Globetrotting jockey James McDonald believes that super Kiwi colt It’s A Dundeel would be very competitive on the international stage following a brilliant workout at Cambridge in New Zealand on Thursday morning.
McDonald is on his way back to Sydney from a riding stint in England but made a special stopover to partner It’s A Dundeel in a special track gallop and couldn’t hold back his enthusiasm for the rising four year old.
“It’s the first time in his career when you actually look at him and think he’s a real racehorse and hopefully he will stand up and make his mark in Melbourne and potentially campaign in Europe,” McDonald said.
“He’s brilliant, he felt like an open sprinter and came off the track bucking his brands off.”
It’s A Dundeel was put up against stablemate Orion and after letting the two year old work ahead the Derby winner had no trouble reeling him in in the run to the line to finish together.
“He felt amazing,” said McDonald.
“We sat off Orion. He was very relaxed and when I let him go, the turn of foot he had was brilliant. And that was without blinkers.
“He showed more brilliance than before and he gave me the impression he could even be hard to beat at 1400 metres fresh-up. He feels even better than last campaign.”
Trainer Murray Baker will wait as long as possible before deciding which race It’s A Dundeel kicks off his Melbourne Spring campaign as he heads towards the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 26.
Baker will choose between the Group 1 $350,000 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 31 or wait a week for the Group 1 $350,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington.
“Being a stallion, every race counts,” said Baker.
“I’ll leave it closer to the time to see which ones suit him better.”
After his first up run, Baker will following the same path as last year’s Cox Plate winner Ocean Path and tackle the Group 1 double at Caulfield, the $400,000 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) on September 21 followed by the $400,000 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on October 12.
“I’ve won the Underwood Stakes twice before, with The Phantom and Lion Tamer, and it’s a good lead-up for Dundeel,” said Baker.
It’s A Dundeel is qualified for the Group 1 $6.2m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 5 due to his outstanding Sydney Autumn Carnival which included a win in the Group 1 $1.5m David Jones Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick, but Baker will not confirm a run at this stage.
“The Cox Plate is his main target and it’ll be up to the owners whether we have a go at the Melbourne Cup,” said Baker.
It’s A Dundeel currently heads the Cox Plate markets at $4 ahead of Australian Cup winner Super Cool at $4.80 with the unbeaten Atlantic Jewel and Hong Kong’s super star Military Attack sharing the next line of betting at $9.