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In a surprise result in the opening Group 1 of Epsom Handicap Day at Royal Randwick this afternoon, Murray Baker’s progressive young stayer It’s A Dundeel proved the better stayer and earned Victoria Derby favouritism knocking off the odds-on favourite Proisir in the Spring Champion Stakes 2012.
Jumping the short-priced favourite in the markets for the $400,000 Group 1 Chandon Spring Champion Stakes (2000m), a race that has thrown up a Victoria Derby winner or two over the years, Choisir colt Proisir was tipped to maintain their undefeated record.
However it was another promising three-year-old that remained unbeaten after the Spring Champion Stakes result with High Chaparral colt It’s A Dundeel now five from five.
The Kiwi raider travelled to Sydney in early August, most recently winning the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) at the Randwick track a fortnight ago.
With ace New Zealand hoop James McDonald maintaining his association with the now Group 1 winner, It’s A Dundeel went out as the second pick in the Spring Champion markets but silenced their doubters today.
Everyone thought Proisir had his measure but It’s A Dundeel earned a trip to Melbourne to target the $1.5 million Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday November 3.
Having settled dead last in the small field, King Of Olympia racing keenly in the early stages to lead, It’s A Dundeel definitely pulled out the run of the race.
Proisir sat second last with 800m to go, which was also wen the pace slowed, before It’s A Dundeel moved up around on their outside.
The favourite got out into the clear at the 300m mark but the eventual winner really got going with the top two battling it out stride for stride in an awesome battle to the line.
In the end It’s A Dundeel ($6.50) was just too strong for Proisir ($1.28F) and took out the Group 1 win by a long neck in a smart effort while the untapped David Payne-trained Honorius ($21) finished off the winning Spring Champion Stakes trifecta in third a further five lengths away.
It was a real tactical battle to the line after Proisir looked to have the race shot to pieces but It’s A Dundeel really hit the line well after chasing and accelerating in an effort that will have them topping the Victoria Derby odds at [bookaekr].
“He’s a good staying horse, he hits the line well….he just outstayed them,” Cambridge-based trainer Murray Baker said.
“He’s certainly gets the line good.”
Baker admitted that after It’s A Dundeel pulled up so well from their Gloaming Stakes win that he quietly believed they could get the better of Proisir today.
“He came through that race pretty well…I thought he’d improved and would be pretty hard to beat today,” he said.
“It was a pleasing run, he really digs deep in the last hundred and seems to find another gear.”
As for Baker’s chances of winning another Victoria Derby to add to the one the ill-fated Lion Tamer handed him back in 2010?
“I’ve booked my trip down there anyway,” Baker said coyly.
Jockey McDonald was also thrilled with It’s A Dundeel’s run, especially as there was such a hot favourite behind them on the line, and rated them a definite chance for the Victoria Derby 2012.
“He’s a big favourite, he’s going the right way to win a (Victoria) Derby,” McDonald said.
“He’ll have to keep improving but he’s taking every step in his stride.
“We knocked off the hot shot and it’s a bloody good feeling.
“He’s got the will to win and he definitely knows where that winning post is and he’s a pleasure to ride.”
The full 2012 Spring Champion Stakes results are detailed below.
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2012 Spring Champion Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Royal Randwick Race 5 – 06/10/2012
|1||2||IT’S A DUNDEEL (NZ)||Murray Baker||James McDonald||–||4||56.5kg||$6.50|
|2||1||PROISIR||Gai Waterhouse||Nash Rawiller||0.2L||2||56.5kg||$1.28F|
|3||3||HONORIUS||David Payne||Corey Brown||5.2L||1||56.5kg||$21|
|4||4||LUNAR RISE||Bart Cummings||Hugh Bowman||9.5L||5||56.5kg||$21|
|5||6||BRADMAN||David Hayes||Chad Schofield (a)||9.6L||3||56.5kg||$101|
|6||5||LASER FLASH||David Payne||Glyn Schofield||10.8L||7||56.5kg||$61|
|7||7||KING OF OLYMPIA||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||12.2L||6||56.5kg||$26|
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