She’s odds-on favourite for the weekend, and shortie for the Cox Plate at the end of the month, but jockey Michael Rodd is far from bullish over his chances on the Mark Kavanagh-trained Atlantic Jewel over the 2000m on Caulfield Guineas Day.
The Fastnet Rock five-year-old became a triple Group 1 winner first-up off a 16 month, injury-enforced break when easily defeating the likes of Ferlax (2nd), Super Cool (3rd) and It’s A Dundeel (4th) in the Memsie Stakes (1400m) back on August 31.
After suffering her first career loss at the hands of It’s A Dundeel with a photo finish in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) on September 21, Atlantic Jewel will look to bounce back in Saturday’s $400,000 Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
She won’t have to face her last start conqueror either with five time Group 1 hero and upset Underwood winner It’s A Dundeel to miss the rematch due to a hoof abscess.
With only five rivals to defeat now Atlantic Jewel dominates Caulfield Stakes betting at an odds-on price of $1.40.
The form is there for all to see, and she’s definitely the horse to beat, but jockey Rodd knows there are still a few doubters out there that need convincing.
“There’s going to be a lot of doubters but we’re out there doing our best and hopefully she can run it out strongly,” Rodd told ABC News.
He’s ridden the mare for all but two of her 10 career starts to date, including her three Group 1 victories, and her massive seven length romp in the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes at Flemington last November.
The Wakeful was Atlantic Jewel’s only previous look at the 2000m, and she killed it, however Rodd isn’t sure whether it is really her best distance.
“We know she’s got the best turn of foot but we also know that 2,000 metres might not be her best distance,” he said.
“There’s a lot of question marks still there, so hopefully she has her chance.”
In the Underwood Rodd was forced to take Atlantic Jewel up front, a job he hopes noted speedster Spacecraft will do in the Caulfield Stakes so he can get his mount some cover.
“Expectations for Saturday, hopefully we just go out and win,” Rodd said.
“That would be nice. But who knows, everyone thought that would have been the case in the Underwood and we just went down to a very good horse.
“Obviously there’s no It’s A Dundeel on Saturday but still, there’s horses that are getting up to their strong distance and it’s a question mark with her.”
The hoop is hoping she’ll prove him wrong with a Caulfield Stakes kill on the weekend as she heads towards the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 26.
“We want to see her run well because the Cox Plate is two weeks later,” he said.
Rodd may be harbouring doubts but the bookies certainly aren’t with Atlantic Jewel the dominant $2.80 favourite in futures Cox Plate betting ahead of the Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente ($4.60) and It’s A Dundeel ($5.25) who continues to ease as their Cox bid remains in danger.
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