Jockey James McDonald was brimming with praise for leading 2013 Cox Plate contender It’s A Dundeel after the four-year-old had an exhibition gallop between races at Caulfield this afternoon.
It’s A Dundeel has not been seen at the races since his upset win over Atlantic Jewel in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) due to a burst foot abscess that saw him miss the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) last Saturday.
The setback leaves trainer Murray Baker in a race against time to get It’s A Dundeel ready for the Group 1 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley next Saturday but based on his performance today the son of High Chaparral is on the right track.
The three-year-old Triple Crown winner worked home strongly and McDonald said in an interview after the gallop that the four-year-old felt brilliant.
“It was good; I think he needed it he was a bit fresh,” McDonald said.
“He worked to the six quiet strongly and he finished off really impressively.
“He doesn’t work that hard without a mate and without the blinkers on he cruised around here and felt brilliant.”
It’s A Dundeel will be heading into the Cox Plate with only two runs under his belt this preparation but McDonald believes that might be a positive for the classy entire who has shown signs of tiring at the end of his past two preparations.
“He won the Rosehill Guineas pretty impressively third-up and he likes his races spaced so I think that it is a blessing in disguise,” McDonald said.
Trainer Murray Baker was worried that It’s A Dundeel would not work hard enough without a training companion this afternoon and said that he would give the Australian Derby winner another serious gallop at the Cox Plate Breakfast With The Stars at Moonee Valley next week.
“He is a relaxed horse who doesn’t do much on his own so we hope that he did enough today,” Baker said.
“We will take him to Breakfast With The Stars next Tuesday and get a mate for him and hopefully we can top him off a bit.”
Baker admits that he faces a tough task to get It’s A Dundeel ready for a rematch with Atlantic Jewel in the Cox Plate but remains confident his star galloper with be at 100 percent fitness on race day.
“She is an awesome mare, she is a champion and is going to take plenty of beating,” Baker said.
“We thought he was spot-on right before his problem.
“He is a horse that doesn’t need a lot of work and we just hope that we can get him there fit and 100 percent.”