New Zealand colt It’s A Dundeel appears to have the Victoria Derby (2500m) at his mercy following the latest round of acceptances for Saturday week’s Group 1 staying test.
He heads 24 horses who remain in contention for the three-year-old feature and on the form displayed so far it will take a special performance to end his unbeaten streak.
Trained by Murray Baker, It’s A Dundeel has received a handicap rating of 106, which is 20 points clear of his nearest Derby rival Jimando.
The son of High Chaparral has won all five of his career starts, with the most impressive of those coming earlier this month when he defeated Gai Waterhouse hotpot Proisir in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m).
It’s A Dundeel has not won by big margins but has done everything asked of him and shown a genuine ability to find the winning post.
The only query over his Derby credentials could be that he is untried in the Melbourne direction but he may get a trial at Moonee Valley this Saturday in the Group 2 Mitchelton Wines Vase (2040m).
Baker is still weighing up his options and juggling whether he will contest the Vase and take the risk of backing up straight into the Derby or go into the Derby without a lead-up in Melbourne.
If It’s A Dundeel is successful in the Derby it will be the second success in three years for Baker who guided Lion Tamer to a 6 1/2 length romp in 2010.
Of those still in Derby contention, the most likely horse capable of upsetting It’s A Dundeel is Peter Gelagotis-trained colt Hvasstan who won the Group 3 Norman Robinson Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Notable absentees from the latest round of Derby acceptances are Caulfield Guineas winner All Too Hard who will contest the Cox Plate this weekend and Gai Waterhouse gelding Kabayan who failed to make an impact when fifth in the Norman Robinson Stakes.