A more mature and focused It’s A Dundeel is giving trainer Murray Baker plenty of confidence heading into tomorrow’s Group 1 $1.5m David Jones Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick.
Even though Murray isn’t taking the Derby for granted, It’s A Dundeel’s dominating six and three quarter lengths victory in the Group 1 $500,000 M. J. Bale Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at Rosehill two weeks ago makes him look unbeatable.
“It was a good win at Rosehill, you can say that, but you know what it’s like, there is always one that comes out of the woodwork,” Baker said.
“We’re happy with him physically, he has trained on well and we don’t have to do a lot with him.”
“The faster they go the better.”
Baker can’t see the step up to the 2400m of the Derby will be a problem even though the High Chaparral colt failed to figure in the finish of the 2500m Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby at Flemington in the Spring when when seventh to Fiveandahalfstar.
“I wouldn’t have thought 2400m would be a problem being out a Zabeel mare,” Baker said.
“I would have thought he would get the distance as well as most of them.”
“He got too far back in the Victoria Derby, he did get home well but he was so far out of it. He ran the last 1000m in 57.8.”
It’s A Dundeel went to another level when Baker put the blinkers on leading up to his win in the Group 1 $550,000 Hyland Race Colours Royal Randwick Guineas (1600m) at Warwick Farm on March 16 and the three year old has continued to improve since.
“I think the blinkers seem to have got him focused since he’s had them on. I also think he has strengthened up since the Spring,” Baker said.
“He can take a position in his races now.”
The Mike Kent trained Phlippi is another three year old on the improve after scoring a three lengths win over Hippopus in the Group 2 $175,000 Emirates Park Tulloch Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill last Saturday.
And trainer Peter Gelagotis is happy to forgive Hvasstan for his uncharacteristic failure in the Rosehill Guineas when seventh to It’s A Dundeel and focus on his win over Philippi in the Group 2 $220,000 Sportingbet Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) at Moonee Valley on March 15.
The Gai Waterhouse trained Hippopus could be forced into the pacemaker role after logical leader Fiveandahalfstar went amiss early in the week, missing his chance to add a second Derby to his record.
It’s A Dundeel has been installed the $1.25 favourite ahead of Philippi who is the second pick at $7 ahead of Hippopus at $15 and Hvasstan at $17.