There may be a few doubters ahead of the 2013 Australian Derby this Saturday saying odds-on favourite It’s A Dundeel won’t handle the trip, but rival jockey Nash Rawiller is not one of them.
Murray Baker’s talented New Zealander It’s A Dundeel has won seven of their 10 career starts to date including three Group 1’s which they will look to add to at Randwick this weekend in the $1.5 million Group 1 ATC Australian Derby (2400m).
The nicely-bred High Chaparral colt comes off back-to-back elite levels with a Randwick Guineas win over the Warwick Farm mile followed by an all-too-easy seven length romp in the Rosehill Guineas (2000m) on March 30.
A win in the Derby and they will complete the autumn 3YO triple crown.
Their obvious class and the absence of last weekend’s The BMW winner Fiveandahalfstar from the line-up has seen It’s A Dundeel installed as the shortest-priced Australian Derby favourite in a quarter of a century their current quote of $1.25.
Still they must prove themselves over the distance with their only run over the 2040m previously being a below par seventh when crossing five lengths off Fiveandahalfstar in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) last November.
While some of their competitors are hanging onto that one con Rawiller knows It’s A Dundeel is the deserved favourite and that all the others must be at their best to come close including his mount, Hippopus ($15) who comes off a second to $7 Derby second pick Philippi in the Group 2 Tulloch Stakes (2000m) last Saturday.
Rawiller got his first real glimpse of just how strong It’s A Dundeel was when he rode hot favourite Proisir to their second behind the Kiwi in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick last October.
“I probably underestimated him when he beat me in the Spring Champion but since that day I’ve taken notice,” Rawiller said.
“But he has gone to a whole new level this preparation.”
Rawiller was able to turn the tables on them when It’s A Dundeel resumed in the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) on a Heavy (9) track at Rosehill last month to finish fourth to Rawiller’s mount Pierro.
However there are no Pierro’s in the Australian Derby this weekend and with It’s A Dundeel at peak fitness they are really hard to go past even at the short price.
Rawiller won’t go down without trying however saying the Waterhouse-trained Hippopus, also by High Chaparral who sired the Australian Derby trifecta three years ago, looked a genuine stayer.
“This bloke’s best asset is that he can stay,” Rawiller said.
“I’m not saying the other bloke (It’s A Dundeel) can’t, but I’ve got to ride my horse to best suit him.
“We will see what happens from there.”
The colt won two races at Canterbury over 1900m earlier this prep before stepping up to stakes company for the first time in the Tulloch Stakes finishing a credible second in the Tulloch Stakes, the step up to the mile and a half this weekend to suit.
“With every race start the penny has dropped that bit more,” Rawiller said.
“The other day (in the Tulloch) he was held up at a crucial stage and I’m not saying it cost him the race, but it cost him his momentum turning for home.
“He’s the sort of horse where that takes a bit off him, he’s a free-roller.”
To get behind It’s A Dundeel in the Derby head over to bookmaker.com.au and access the country’s best range of Randwick racing odds including those on Black Caviar next race in the TJ Smith Stakes!