They are the early favourite for the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate 2013 but Cambridge-based trainer Murray Baker was talking down the Thursday morning hit-out in New Zealand of his crack Kiwi galloper It’s A Dundeel ahead of their Melbourne return.
A four-time Group 1 champion down under, the High Chaparral four-year-old was certainly not tested in their winning trial this morning with Baker saying he did nothing more than what he had to do.
“It was a four-horse jumpout and he won it by maybe half a length,” racenet.com.au reported Baker as saying.
“He got there but it wasn’t anything special.”
Winner of the Sydney Autumn 3YO Triple Crown, which culminated with a six length success in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick in mid-April, It’s A Dundeel is on track for another stellar season on Aussie soil.
They haven’t raced since Sydney Cup Day when going down as the odds-on favourite to Chris Waller’s import Reliable Man in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m).
That run came at the end of a long and successful campaign however that also including the Randwick Guineas – Rosehill Guineas double adding to their maiden Group 1 trophy won in the Spring Champion Stakes back in October last year.
There were other excuses for the Queen Elizabeth too as they dropped back from the mile and a half to the 2000m, meaning they lost few admirers after the defeat.
So few in fact that as soon as futures betting opened on the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival majors It’s A Dundeel is targeting, they were installed at the top of the markets.
The $2.1 million earner will be among the nominations taken next Tuesday for both the $2.6 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) and the $3 million Group 1 WS Cox Plate (2040m) – the handicap to run on October 19 followed by Australasia’s weight-for-age championship at Moonee Valley the following Saturday.
Dominant favourite for the Cox Plate at around $4.40 in the pre-nomination markets, It’s A Dundeel also hasn’t been ruled out of the famous Caulfield clash sitting top of those odds too at a slightly more generous $7.
There’s also been talk of a $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) nomination for the progressive galloper whose pet distance is yet to really be determined.
While they are going to be in the mix for the ‘Big 3’ spring showdowns, exactly how their new season prep will play out is still being planned.
Baker confirmed this week he hadn’t decided on a starting point for It’s A Dundeel but that they would have an official trial at the famous Flemington Racecourse before their first-up assignment.
“He’ll probably have a jumpout at Flemington when he gets over there,” he said.
“We still haven’t locked in a starting point yet. A lot will depend on how he travels and settles in.”
The horse has had two previous runs in the Melbourne when they travelled across the Tasman for last year’s spring carnival
Their first was a second to subsequent Australian Cup winner Super Cool in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Vase, held over the Cox Plate distance, before they went to Flemington for a disappointing seventh to Fiveandahalfstar in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m).