McDonald to Miss Major 2013 Australian Derby Rival

Star New Zealand jockey James McDonald should be cheering over the news Fiveandahalfstar won’t be part of Saturday’s Australian Derby 2013 field but the hoop of hot favourite It’s A Dundeel said the second pick will be missed.

It's A Dundeel

It's A Dundeel's jockey James McDonald is confident they can win 2013 Australian Derby. Photo: Steve Hart.

Anthony Cummings’ exciting The BMW winner from last weekend Fiveandahalfstar was originally set to back up in the $1.5 million Group 1 ATC Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

They were not part of the 10-horse Australian Derby field announced on Tuesday however after having been found to be suffering from a sprained fetlock.

There seems to be little now standing in the way between the Murray Baker-trained High Chaparral colt It’s A Dundeel and the Autumn 3YO Triple Crown hat-trick.

Hot favourite to take out the ATC Derby following his winning double in the Randwick Guineas and Rosehill Guineas, It’s A Dundeel will again be ridden by McDonald who has been aboard for all 10 of their career runs to date producing seven wins.

McDonald admitted that he had been looking forward to meeting Fiveandahalfstar again in the Australian Derby where he and It’s A Dundeel would have had the chance to turn the tables after being beaten five lengths by them the first time they met when seventh in the Victoria Derby (2500m) last Melbourne Cup Carnival.

The Australian Derby will be It’s A Dundeel’s first look at a distance greater than 2000m since then, and McDonald admits that Fiveandahalfstar would have added some nice speed to the race.

“I would have liked Fiveandahalfstar to be in the field for the race,” McDonald admitted.

“It would have added to the race and added some pace.”

That said, McDonald remains confident he’s on the winning horse and that It’s A Dundeel will easily handle the mile and a half this time in.

“He’s just tractable,” McDonald said.

“Where he was losing his races, he was losing it between the 800 and 400 where he was off the bit.

“They all skipped away on him and he was doing well just to get up. He was winning by noses and heads but now he’s putting them away by big margins. That’s how much he’s improved.”

Much of It’s A Dundeel’s recent success has been credited to trainer Baker adding blinkers to their gear at the start of their autumn campaign but McDonald said the horse had the talent to thrive with or without them now.

“I’d say they make a bit of difference but if you took them off in the Derby, I reckon he’d still win,” McDonald said.

“He’s still a good colt without them. The blinkers have just switched him on a little bit.”

With Fiveandahalfstar out the next best fancied Derby contenders to score an upset are then Tulloch Stakes winner Philippi and runner-up in the same Derby lead-up last Saturday Hippopus from the stables of Gai Waterhouse who is one of four High Chaparral progeny in the field along with the faovuirte.

High Chaparral sired the winning Australian Derby trifecta back in 2010 when the now Chris Waller-trained Shoot Out saluted over Descarado and Monaco Consul.

They get the chance to do so again on Saturday also being represented by Michael Kent’s High Shot out to improve on their Tulloch Stakes eighth and the John O’Shea-trained Kingdoms who comes off a distant fourth in the Rosehill Guineas.

When you’re ready to back your favourite three-year-old this weekend make sure you have access to the hottest Australian Derby odds by betting online with – home of the country’s premier range of fixed win horse racing markets.