A hotly anticipated rematch is looming in the Cox Plate after top class Kiwi It’s A Dundeel lowered the colours for the first time of Atlantic Jewel in Group 1 $400,000 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield today.
The previously unbeaten Atlantic Jewel was going for her tenth straight win but a never say die ride by James McDonald on It’s A Dundeel saw Mark Kavanagh’s super mare taste defeat for the first time.
McDonald had to throw his pre- race tactics out the window when Michael Rodd let Atlantic Jewel stride to the lead and slowed the pace and the back marker took up a handy position sitting right on her tail.
“My heart was in my mouth at the 800m, Murray told me to get back, follow through, don’t be last” McDonald said.
“The instructions went straight out the window as soon as they jumped. He’s a different horse this prep. I like how he possied up today and when I was in striking distance of Atlantic Jewel I thought that this is what everybody comes to see, a match race between two champions.”
“I probably put my head on the chopping block by sending him forward. We weren’t expecting it.”
“You can do that on really good horses and get away with it.”
A rematch is looming with the pair likely to meet again in the Group 1 $400,000 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on October 12 on their to the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 26.
“Brilliant ride from James. There was no pace in the race, went forward and took it to her, it was a great race,” winning trainer Murray Baker said.
Baker was very excited with the surprise win over the nation’s headline galloper Atlantic Jewel and is looking forward to the two great horses meeting again in three weeks.
“I think he is a very talented horse. He showed today he can run on the pace. Last Autumn in Sydney he was running off the pace and still running time and running sectionals,” Baker said.
The punters stuck with Atlantic Jewel as she faced her toughest test to date and sent her out the $1.60 favourite and she was gallant in defeat, being beaten by a nose by a top quality horse in It’s A Dundeel ($7.50).
Third placegetter Dear Demi ($71) also ran a mighty race to finish right on the heels of the first two.
The Cox Plate market has been noticeably reshaped with Atlantic Jewel easing to $3.20 while It’s A Dundeel has shortened dramatically to be challenging for favouritism at $3.40.
Puissance De Lune wasn’t suited by the slow pace of today’s race and found it hard to make up any ground in the straight before finishing seventh and is still on the third line of betting at $6.