After the smallest glimmer of hope was being kept alive yesterday that star Kiwi galloper It’s A Dundeel could prove themselves fit for the 2013 Caulfield Stakes this weekend, they have now officially been ruled out of the important Cox Plate lead-up.
The $3 million Group 1 WS Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 26 is now looking to be the next time Murray Baker’s five-time Group 1 champion will have another run against super mare Atlantic Jewel.
The two faced off for the first time last start in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 21.
Mark Kavanagh’s then undefeated Atlantic Jewel jumped odds-on favourite but went down in a shock defeat to High Chaparral four-year-old It’s A Dundeel who got her by a nose on the line.
This Saturday’s $400,000 Group 1 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes (2000m) was scheduled as round two between the dynamic 2013 Cox Plate-bound duo.
It’s A Dundeel however will now miss the highly anticipated clash, putting their Cox Plate bid in danger, after they were found to be lame over the weekend due to a hoof abscess.
The abscess burst on Monday morning but they failed to galloper to Baker’s satisfaction in a beach gallop on Tuesday morning and so will not be accepted for the Caulfield Stakes field.
“It burst out yesterday morning and I put a shoe on him yesterday,” Baker told Melbourne’s RSN radio on Tuesday.
“He went to the beach this morning, but it’s still a bit tender so he won’t run on Saturday. We don’t want to risk it.”
Due to their imposing record, It’s A Dundeel won’t be able to use a handicap race as a Cox Plate lead-up now with Baker to consider a trial between now and the end of the month.
“Five weeks between runs is not impossible, but we’d be desperate to get a trial into him somewhere,” Baker told the Herald Sun on Tuesday.
“You couldn’t run him in a handicap because he’d get 65kg.”
While It’s A Dundeel’s price to win the Cox Plate is easing at the bookies due to the setback, the horse now right out to $5.25 as the third favourite behind Atlantic Jewel ($2.80) and the Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente ($4.60), Baker is keeping the options open for his stable ace.
“We might even look at running him in the Mackinnon Stakes instead,” he said.
“Who knows, we might still go Cox into the Mackinnon and maybe have him at his peak for the Mackinnon.”
The $1 million Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) runs at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day, Saturday November 2, a week after the Cox Plate.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au to view the official 2013 Caulfield Stakes field once it’s announced shortly, seeing the brave rivals taking on Cox Plate favourite Atlantic Jewel.
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