Fiveandahalfstar Out, Derby Dundeel?

When news filtered through yesterday that Fiveandahalfstar would miss Saturday’s $1.5 million Australian Derby (2400m), it is likely there were plenty of smiles inside the camp of It’s A Dundeel.

It's A Dundeel will be tough to beat in the Australian Derby. Photo by: Steve Hart.

The BMW and Victoria Derby winner stood as the biggest stumbling block on the road to Sydney’s three-year-old triple crown for It’s A Dundeel.

Fiveandahalfstar jockey Hugh Bowman declared after Saturday’s BMW victory the impressive stayer would win the Derby but a strained fetlock has instead sent him to the spelling paddock.

While racing fans will rue the missed opportunity to watch It’s A Dundeel attempt to chase down front-runner Fiveandahalfstar, the former’s trainer Murray Baker is probably cheering.

It’s A Dundeel, who was already an odds-on favourite, now appears to have the third leg of the triple crown at his mercy.

On his performances so far this autumn, it will take a special effort to upset the favourite.

After flashing home for fourth in the Hobartville Stakes first-up, the New Zealand product won the Randwick Guineas before delivering a seven-length demolition job in the Rosehill Guineas.

The only query over the son of High Chaparral, if there is one, is his ability to run a strong 2400m. He is yet to win at more than 2000m, having finished seventh in his only attempt in the spring in the Victoria Derby (2500m).

It’s A Dundeel is currently a $1.30 favourite to win the Australian Derby ahead of Tulloch Stakes winner Philippi ($6).

Tulloch Stakes runner-up Hioppopus occupies the next line of betting at $11 with Victoria colt Hvasstan at $13.

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