Deel Breaker

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


Ceirin gives Maher Cup hope

Trainer Ciaron Maher is setting his sights on the BMW Caulfield Cup after tough stayer Mr O’Ceirin booked a place in next month’s $2.5 million Group 1 feature with an impressive win in the Group 3 D’Urban Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on Saturday.

Freshened since his Listed Grafton Cup win in July, the six-year-old improved on his runner-up placing in the Heatherlie Handicap (1700mlast-start to defeat a field of Cup hopefuls for jockey Glen Boss.

The win was extra sweet for Maher who admitted Mr O’Ceirin was unlucky not to feature in last year’s Cup after just failing behind Folding Gear in the Naturalism.

“It’s a great thrill because he was stiff in this race last year so it’s great to get him in because he deserves his chance,” Maher said.

“He went back down to Warrnambool (after the Grafton Cup) and just had a weed around at the beach where he didn’t do a lot and we just maintained his fitness.”

After beginning well from barrier 15, Boss was allowed to dictate terms up front, turning the race into a sprint home from the 600m.

Collared by import Kesampour ($12) halfway down the straight, Mr O’Ceirin ($7.50) found an extra gear in the run to the line, staving off the challenge from the Peter Moody-trained galloper and going on to record victory by a length, with another import, Mick Price’s Bit Of Hell ($20), a further length-and-a-quarter away in third.

Boss admitted the lack of early-race pressure had been pivotal to the success but said Mr O’Ceirin’s final 100m had been his best and the horse would be a live contender with 52.5 kilograms in the Caulfield Cup.

“His first 200 metres is his quickest part so it was great to be able to do what I did there, just cruise across,” Boss said.

“Once we got to the top of the hill I knew it was all over because he gave me such a feel.

“It was a little bit ridiculous when we got to the top of the hill and you don’t want to be going too slow so we got rolling at about the 700m.

“I was thinking someone was going to have to come but it was too late because the bird had flown.”

“I thought the best part of this horse’s race was the last 100m because he really found another gear to run through the line and he was getting away from them.”

Maher said he was likely to give the son of Postponed a final lead-up run in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on 12 October before tackling the Caulfield Cup the following Saturday with 52.5 kilograms.

Story by James Tzaferis


Catkins claws to a career highlight

Progressive Chris Waller-trained mare Catkins claimed the biggest success of her career today with a tough win in the $150,000 Sportingbet Sprint Series Heat 2 Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield.

Ridden by Craig Newitt, today’s victory was the daughter of Dubawi’s seventh victory in 14 career starts underlining her trainer’s substantial opinion of her.

Dropping back to 1200 metres after finishing runner-up behind Commanding Jewel over 1400 metres in the Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes, Waller’s assistant-trainer Justine Hales said the stable expects the daughter of Dubawi to be even better as she steps up in distance.

“She’s very tough she knows how to fight and she knows where the line is, Chris has big hopes for her in the autumn,” Hales said.

“She’s got a lot of ability we’re looking at races like the Coolmore for her in the autumn.

“In the meantime she’ll tell us how she’s going and we’ll just keep placing her to try and keep winning.”

Jumping from the outside barrier, Newitt positioned Catkins ($2.90F) in sixth position, three-wide with cover in the early stages, settling on the back of the Peter Moody-trained A Time For Julia ($6).

Appearing in trouble as Hi Belle ($16) loomed up on her outside with 100 metres left to travel, Catkins responded to fight back and beat Hi Belle by a short-half-head on the line, with Flash Of Doubt ($21) a further neck away on the inside in third.

Revealing that Catkins was probably headed in the home straight, Newitt said it was a good effort to win after dropping back to 1200 from 1400 metres at her previous run.

“The second horse probably headed us in the home straight but she really knuckled down and on the line she was starting to draw away,” Newitt said.

“She gave me the other day over 1400 metres at Flemington that she will be even better suited over more ground.

“The winner that day Commanding Jewel probably just had a better turn of foot but on the line I was gradually starting to wear her back down.”

Story by Ben Asgari


Past winners top Cup weights

The weights for Australia’s most famous horse race, the $6.2 million Emirates Melbourne Cup, have been released today by Racing Victoria (RV) Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter, with two familiar names sitting atop of the 134 entries.

French star Dunaden is likely to carry the number one saddlecloth for the second year running after again being allotted topweight for ‘the race that stops a nation’.

A winner of the 2011 Cup when carrying 54.5kg, the Mikel Delzangles-trained eight-year-old has been given 58.5kg for the coveted 3200-metre handicap at Flemington on 5 November.

Unplaced in last year’s Cup when carrying 0.5kg more, Dunaden will again need to end a streak stretching more than 60 years if he is to join Peter Pan (1932-34) as the only multiple winner of the Cup in non-consecutive years.

“Dunaden has been allotted the topweight for the second year running, however I have reduced his weight by 0.5kg to 58.5kg in recognition of the fact he was beaten almost 10 lengths by Green Moon in last year’s race when favourite,” Carpenter said.

“Whilst Dunaden enjoys a weight reduction, history still presents a significant challenge as no original topweight has won the Cup since Comic Court in 1950. In fact 20 of them have tried and not one of them has placed so he will rightly claim a place in history if triumphant.”

Second in the weights on 57.5kg is the Robert Hickmott-trained, Lloyd Williams-owned defending champion Green Moon, with his high profile imported stablemate Sea Moon and 2011 runner-up Red Cadeaux both allotted 56.5kg – 1kg more than he carried in 2012.

Last year’s runner-up Fiorente, a winner of the Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday, rises 1.5kg to 55kg, whilst the commanding TAB favourite Puissance de Lune has 54.5kg – the weight carried to victory in the last three Cups.

“Green Moon was allotted 53.5kg, but the record books will show that Brett Prebble rode 1kg overweight to win the 2012 Emirates Melbourne Cup with 54.5kg,” Carpenter explained.

“From a handicapping viewpoint he rises 4kg to 57.5kg which is 0.5kg less than Americain (2010) and Dunaden (2011) were asked to carry the year after winning their Cup.

“The Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente, who was most impressive winning the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes on Saturday, rises 1.5kg on his second placing 12 months ago, but does meet Green Moon 1.5kg better for that defeat.

“Fiorente is striving to become the fifth horse to win the Cup a year after running second, with grand mare Empire Rose the last to do it in 1988 when carrying 53.5kg to victory.”

Dunaden or Green Moon, if victorious, would become just the sixth multiple winner of the Cup joining Makybe Diva (2003, 04, 05), Think Big (1974-75), Rain Lover (1968-69), Peter Pan and inaugural winner Archer (1861, 62) in racing’s most distinguished group.

Michael Burn, Chairman of the Victoria Racing Club (VRC), said this year’s 153rd edition represents a significant milestone in the Cup’s evolution and that the release of weights sets the scene for another exciting chapter in its history.

“The release of the weights confirms the high quality of this year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup entries,” Burn said. “We are excited to see such a depth of talent amongst the entries, both Australian and international, as we mark 20 years since the first international winner of the Cup, Vintage Crop.”

Other notable entries and their weights are;

It’s A Dundeel (56kg) – NZ star who was a four-time Group 1 winner at three. He has the same weight as So You Think was allotted as a four-year-old in 2010.
Foreteller (55kg) – Chris Waller-trained import who meets Cup favourite Puissance de Lune 0.5kg worse for his triumph in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes last start.
Dandino (54.5kg) – UK-trained, Australian-owned last start winner of the American St Leger. His stablemate Jakkalberry ran third in the 2012 Cup carrying 1kg more.
Ethiopia (54.5kg) – 2012 ATC Derby winner who has raced just twice since finishing unplaced in last year’s Melbourne Cup. Rises 1kg from his 2012 Cup weight.
Super Cool (54.5kg) – One of only a trio of three-year-olds to have won the Australian Cup, the Mark Kavanagh-trained gelding is the second highest weighted four-year-old.
Mount Athos (54kg) – Luca Cumani-trained English stayer has been allotted the same weight he carried into a fast finishing fifth place in the 2012 Cup.
Hawkspur (53.5kg) – Queensland Derby winner who is now third favourite for the Cup with TAB ($12) after blitzing his rivals in the Chelmsford Stakes in Sydney last start.
Jet Away (53kg) – Highly rated import who is unbeaten in two Australian starts for master trainer David Hayes. He is yet to pass the first ballot clause for the Cup.
Verema (53kg) – Owned by the Aga Khan and trained by 2010 Cup winner Alain de Royer Dupre, the mare is charged with delivering a third French victory in four years.
Leading Light (52.5kg) – Aidan O’Brien-trained 2013 English St Leger winner who would become just the fourth Northern Hemisphere three-year-old to start in the Cup.
Tres Blue (51kg) – Another Northern Hemisphere three-year-old colt, the last start French Group 2 winner was a late entry for premier trainer Gai Waterhouse.

First acceptances for the Melbourne Cup will be taken at 12 noon on Tuesday, 8 October.

Dunaden return confirmed

Dunaden has been given the go-ahead to make a third challenge for the Emirates Melbourne Cup after finding the Japanese ace Orfevre too hot to handle at Longchamp on Sunday.

An advanced finish in the Prix Foy could have persuaded trainer Mikel Delzangles to try the 2011 Cup hero in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe itself, as this 2400-metre event is the crucial trial for older horses ahead of France’s showpiece race in three weeks.

Jamie Spencer, Sheikh Fahad Al Thani’s retained rider, had to keep pushing away at Dunaden on the wet Parisian track and they made little progress through the field, beating only one-time Sportingbet Cox Plate prospect Mandour out of the nine starters.

It was, though, almost as if he were competing in a different race. Orfevre, beaten in calamitous circumstances in last year’s Arc, retained the Group 2 in arrogant fashion as he cruised five lengths clear of the rest under an ultra-confident Christophe Soumillon

Dunaden will not follow the same path as 12 months ago, when he won the BMW Caulfield Cup before an uninspiring 14th place at Flemington.

There had been plenty of promise in the seven-year-old’s most recent start in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud back in June when only the subsequent Ascot Group 1 star Novellist finished ahead of him.

The German colt will be one of the main obstacles in the path of Orfevre on his return to Longchamp, as well as the other trials winners Treve and Kizuna.

“He’ll go to Australia,” said the owner’s racing manager, David Redvers.

“It was soft ground, they all finished in a heap behind the winner, and it didn’t really suit him.

“The plan would be to fly in and go straight for the Melbourne Cup.”

Redvers later reported on Twitter there would be three Spring Racing Carnival runners under the Sheikh’s Qatar Racing banner.

Side Glance is bound for the Cox Plate while there will be a first international runner in the Emirates Stakes in Havana Gold.

Trained by Richard Hannon in Wiltshire, the three-year-old won his first Group 1 over 1600 metres in the Prix Jean Prat and also went very close to lifting a messy French Guineas.

“Dunaden back off to Australia after his prep in Prix Foy. No question in my mind we saw the Arc winner today and he’s made in Japan,” Redvers Tweeted.

“Australia team for QR (Qatar Racing) / Pearl Bloodstock is likely to be Dunaden (Melbourne Cup) Havana Gold (Emirates Stakes) and Side Glance (Cox Plate).”