Cambridge salutes Jewel’s conqueror

It took a Cambridge superstar to end the unbeaten run of champion Australian mare Atlantic Jewel in Melbourne yesterday.

Dundeel, who races as It’s a Dundeel, in Australia, upstaged the Aussie queen when getting in the deciding stride to beat her by a short head in the Gr. 1 Underwood Stakes at Caulfield, thanks to a brilliant ride from another Cambridge export, James McDonald.

Atlantic Jewel was chasing her 10th win and was back as unbeatable in the 1800-metre event, but Dundeel’s trainers, Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, and McDonald spoilt the party with Atlantic Jewel’s rider, Michael Rodd, conceding his mount had been beaten by a better horse on the day.

“I knew when he eyeballed me early on that he wouldn’t go away,” said Rodd. “He’s a very good colt.

“I think everyone has seen what he’s capable of. It was just a beautiful ride by James to sum it up and come and sit up outside me. You could notice it was going to be a sprint home and he had the stamina in the end.”

As expected, Rodd took up the running on Atlantic Jewel, but the big surprise came from McDonald on Dundeel when keeping within striking distance of the favourite and eyeballing her when the pressure went on.

“My heart was in my mouth at probably the 800 metres because Murray told me to get back,” said McDonald. “The instructions went out the window as soon as they jumped.

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

“It was a dogfight. I could see her from the 400 metres picking up the speed but I knew he could sustain a long run to the line so I put it to her and made it a test.

“Full credit to the two horses, they battled it out really well.”

Baker was full of praise for the initiative shown by McDonald and also the class of his stable star.

“It was a brilliant ride by James ,” said Baker. “There was no pace in the race, he went forward and took it to her. It was a very special race between two very good horses.”

It was a turnaround from the first clash between Dundeel and Atlantic Jewel in the Gr. 1 Memsie Stakes, in which Atlantic Jewel proved superior and Dundeel finished fourth. But Baker knew there had been improvement in Dundeel, even though unsure he could beat Atlantic Jewel at 1800.

“He went into the Memsie on a very short prep, he’d had one jumpout,” said Baker. “He is a very talented horse. He showed today he can run on the pace. Last autumn in Sydney he was running off the pace and still running time and sectionals.

“He is a beautiful horse to work with and we just hope he gets through the carnival sound.”

It was Baker’s third win in the Underwood Stakes, following on from The Phantom and Lion Tamer, and now he has his sights set on a first Gr. 1 Cox Plate, in which Dundeel will again meeting Atlantic Jewel at Moonee Valley on October 26.

Despite Dundeel’s latest Group One success, Atlantic Jewel still holds favouritism for the Cox Plate slightly over the Baker –Forsman star.