Mark Kavanagh has confirmed he will be accepting for his 2013 Underwood Stakes nominee Atlantic Jewel to take on a crack field of rivals at Caulfield Racecourse this weekend in what is shaping up as a telling Cox Plate lead-up.
There were 26 nominations taken for Saturday’s $400,000 Group 1 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m) yesterday, the likely favourite of which is the undefeated Fastnet Rock mare Atlantic Jewel.
Already a triple Group 1 winner thanks to her first-up victory in the Memsie Stakes at Caulfield last month, five-year-old Atlantic Jewel retained her undefeated status last weekend with an easy victory over a field of fellow mares in the Group 2 Stocks Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley.
She will be on a short seven day back-up this weekend then going up in distance when returning to Caulfield for the Underwood against an open field, but Kavanagh holds no fears.
“She will be running,” Kavanagh told the Herald Sun on Tuesday.
“She has done well since Saturday’s run and she ate up on Saturday night.
“She wasn’t pushed out in winning on Saturday. It was a trot and a canter.”
Atlantic Jewel’s stunning return from injury has seen her dominate early markets for the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) held at the Valley on October 26 and she currently pays a short $2.50 to win Australasia’s weight-for-age championship.
She’ll run in the Underwood and then have a final Cox Plate preparatory run in the $400,000 Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on October 12.
“After Saturday it will be three weeks to the Yalumba Stakes and then two weeks to the Cox Plate. It’s the right progression,” Kavanagh said.
Second favourite in Cox Plate betting at $8 is then Murray Baker’s Kiwi raider It’s A Dundeel at $8 who is also nominated for the Underwood.
A four-time Group 1 winner down under the High Chaparral four-year-old ran a brave first-up fourth to Atlantic Jewel in the Memsie and will be out to turn the tables on Saturday.
The other early Cox Plate favourites nominated for the Underwood are then:
Puissance De Lune ($9) – Melbourne Cup favourite from Darren Weir’s Wangoom stables, won four straight including the PB Lawrence Stakes first-up before their very close Makybe Diva second to Foreteller
Sea Moon ($18) – Lloyd Williams-owned star import can be forgiven for their Makybe Diva 12th on debut when missing the jump, form back in Europe is outstanding and includes a Hardwick Stakes win at Ascot over the mile and a half beating 2011 Melbourne Cup winner Duanden
Rival trainer Clarry Conners is spruiking this year’s Underwood field as a line-up worthy of a Cox Plate, his hopeful former Crown Oaks winner Dear Demi facing a real acid test.
“You couldn’t believe how good this race is – this is as good as a Cox Plate,” Conners said after watching Dehere four-year-old Dear Demi trial over 1400m in a smart time of 1:43.2 at Caulfield this morning.
The 2013 Underwood Stakes field is set for release on Wednesday and will be published right here at Races.com.au so stay tuned.
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