It’s A Dundeel upsets Atlantic Jewel

| September 24, 2013
It's A Dundeel upsets Atlantic Jewel's winning sequence in the Underwood Stakes at Caulfield.

It’s A Dundeel upsets Atlantic Jewel’s winning sequence in the Underwood Stakes at Caulfield.

It’s A Dundeel brought the unbeaten run of star mare Atlantic Jewel to an end, winning a thrilling renewal of the Underwood Stakes in Melbourne.

The race had been marketed as the #raceofthemillennium, and the spectacle which brought an end to the day’s racing at Caulfield failed to disappoint.

With no natural leader in the race, Michael Rodd took Atlantic Jewel to the front but he was tracked by James McDonald on It’s A Dundeel.

When the heat went on rounding the turn, both gallopers responded and settled in for a stirring drive to the line with It’s A Dundeel getting the upper hand in the final strides.

Winning trainer Murray Baker said he knew his horse could not win if he gave Atlantic Jewel too much start.

“It was a brilliant ride by James. There was no pace in the race, he went forward and took it up to her,” Baker said.

“It was a very special race between two very good horses.”

It’s A Dundeel, a dynamic winner of the Australian Derby over 2,400 metres in the autumn, returned to racing with a solid fourth behind Atlantic Jewel in the Memsie Stakes (1,400m) earlier this month.

And their clash in the Underwood could merely be the entree, with both expected to clash again in the Caulfield Stakes on their road to the Cox Plate.

“We thought he improved vastly in the last three weeks but we didn’t think we could beat Atlantic Jewel over 1,800 metres,” Baker said.

McDonald took all the accolades for his decision to take It’s A Dundeel forward in what was a slowly run affair, even though his instructions were to find cover.

“My heart was in my mouth … the instructions went out the window after they jumped,” he said.

“I probably put my head on the chopping block a little bit by sending him forward, but you can do that on really good horses and get away with it.

“When I was in striking distance of Atlantic Jewel I thought this is what everyone has come to see, a race between two champions.”

Bookmakers have responded to the result by easing Atlantic Jewel to $3 for the Cox Plate, while It’s A Dundeel’s price more than halved into $3.70.

The Underwood was always going to be Atlantic Jewel’s acid test – stepping up to a distance more suitable for the likes of It’s A Dundeel and Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance De Lune – but she certainly lost no admirers in defeat.

“No excuses from our camp,” Rodd said. “Congratulations to Murray and his team. They’ve done a really good job with their bloke.”

The slow pace of the race made it hard for backmarkers to get into the finish.

Victoria Oaks winner Dear Demi raced in behind Atlantic Jewel and It’s A Dundeel and fought on strongly to finish third.

Veteran galloper Manighar showed glimpses of his old form, running on to just miss grabbing fourth place from Happy Trails.

Cup favourite Puissance De Lune (seventh) and reigning Cup champion Green Moon (ninth) both worked home solidly to be beaten less than four lengths.


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