It’s A Dundeel became the first horse to defeat Atlantic Jewel after the four-year-old came out on top at the end of an epic battle in today’s $400,000 Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes (1800m).
The win provided the son of High Chaparral with the fifth Group 1 victory of his career and now potentially sets up two mouth-watering Group 1 showdowns with Atlantic Jewel in both the Caulfield Stakes and Sportingbet Cox Plate.
Ridden uncharacteristically close to the speed by jockey James McDonald, trainer Murray Baker praised McDonald’s initiative to go forward and take the race up to Atlantic Jewel.
“We realised that we couldn’t give her a big start and I thought it was a brilliant ride from James (McDonald), there was no pace in the race so he went forward and took it to her,” Baker said.
“He went into the Memsie on a very short preparation, he’d only had the one jumpout and we thought that he’d improved vastly in the last three weeks but we didn’t think that he’d beat Atlantic Jewel over 1800.
“He’s a very talented horse. He showed today that he can run on the pace, last autumn in Sydney he was coming from off the pace and still running time and good sectionals.”
Driven forward in the early stages to sit outside the leader Atlantic Jewel ($1.60F), McDonald allowed It’s A Dundeel ($7.50) to stride up and eyeball the mare before the home turn.
No sooner than it appeared Atlantic Jewel would keep her unbeaten record intact, It’s A Dundeel surged over the final 50 metres to record a famous last-stride victory.
Crown Oaks winner Dear Demi finished just under a length away further back in third position after also racing on the speed.
Admitting he had his heart in his mouth after making the decision to go forward, McDonald said It’s A Dundeel has come back a much more tactically versatile horse this preparation.
“The instructions went straight out the window as soon as they jumped,” McDonald said.
“I probably put my head on the chopping block by sending him forward and having him second in the run like that, but you can do that on really good horses and get away with it.
“He’s a different horse this preparation, once I was in striking distance of Atlantic Jewel I thought this is what everyone comes to see; a match race between two champions.
“I knew he could sustain a really good run to the line so I put it to her (Atlantic Jewel) 400 metres from home to make it a real test for her.”
Despite suffering her first defeat in ten starts, jockey Michael Rodd could offer no excuses for Atlantic Jewel saying she was simply beaten by a very good race horse.
“It was a beautiful ride by James to sum it up and come and sit outside me,” Rodd said.
“We had a lovely run in front. I’m not going to make any excuses about the track or anything like that. She tried very hard.
“She will be better suited ridden stalking the speed, which we will get in the Cox Plate. I think she will improve a fair bit out of that. No excuses from our camp, congratulations to James and Murray.”
Though he finished in sixth position, Melbourne Cup favourite Puissance De Lune lost no admirers, rocketing home from last to run the fastest last 800 metres of the race.
Click here to watch the full replay of the Hyland Race Colours Underwood Stakes
Story by Ben Asgari