Chris Waller’s fillies dominate the nominations...
They have the class, the form and the Group 1 winning record but there is still a question over this Saturday’s Australian Derby 2013 favourite It’s A Dundeel running out a strong mile and a half at Randwick.
Murray Baker’s impressive High Chaparral colt from New Zealand already boasts a trio of Group 1 trophies having saluted in the Spring Champion Stakes last season before coming back this autumn and taking out the Randwick Guineas – Rosehill Guineas double.
The progressive youngster will now look to complete the prestigious Sydney Autumn 3YO Triple Crown this Saturday with a victory in the lucrative $1.5 million Group 1 ATC Australian Derby (2400m).
Drawn in gate eight of the 10-horse Australian Derby field and due to have regular rider James McDonald in the saddle again, there’s certainly plenty in It’s A Dundeel’s favour.
Their record at Randwick is outstanding with two wins from as many starts, the horse also having won the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) at the track before their maiden elite level victory.
They are also undboutedly the rank horse in the mix after their latest two runs in Sydney the most recent being a breezy seven length stroll in the park to beat home Sacred Falls in the Rosehill Guineas (2000m).
While It’s A Dundeel is set to start the odds-on favourite in the Australian Derby odds there is still hope for the connections of their rivals however as the top elect still must prove themselves a genuine stayer.
With the withdrawal of second fancy and likely speed-setter Fiveandahalfstar from the race this year’s Derby is going to be a genuine staying test with key competitors including Tulloch Stakes winner Philippi (barrier one) and Gai Waterhouse’s Tulloch runner-up Hippopus (barrier five) ready to grind it out.
It’s A Dundeel has had just the one run over a distance greater than 2040m so far, and it really left a lot to be desired when their spring campaign in Melbourne came to an end with a disappointing seventh beaten five lengths by the Anthony Cummings-trained Fiveandahalf in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington.
Even their Cambridge-based trainer Baker is harbouring some concerns about Saturday’s distance.
“There is some debate over the distance and whether he is better at a mile to 2000 metres,” he said.
“The instructions to James McDonald will be to keep out of trouble. It’s all up to him.”
Baker however isn’t too worried believing class will prevail in the end.
“I just think he might win because he is too good,” he said.
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