Doubt over Dundeel overshadows win

Cambridge trainer Murray Baker was thrilled to see Sakhees Soldier make a winning debut at Te Awamutu today, but his mind was also in Melbourne, where his stable star Dundeel is fighting to be ready to race at Caulfield next Saturday.

The Dundeel camp is “feverishly” fighing to get Dundeel to the Gr. 1 $A400,000 Cathay Pacific Caulfield Stakes after a foot abscess surfaced last Thursday and burst in trackwork yesterday morning.

“There was a small crack at the end of his frog,” said co-trainer Murray Baker today. “He was being treated and we thought we had got on top of it, but overnight it travelled up the bulb of the hoof, so we’re waiting for it to come out the heel.

“They’re working feverishly on it and hopefully he’ll be right in time for the Caulfield Stakes. If he doesn’t start there, he’ll have to go straight into the Cox Plate and that’s not ideal.”

Dundeel’s stablemate Orion finished seventh behind Polanski in the Listed UCI Stakes (1800m) at Flemington yesterday after being given his chance in the trail by rider Michael Rodd.

“He only went average, considering the run he had,” said Baker. “He didn’t kick on like I thought he would. Mind you, he still finished only two and a half lengths from the winner.”

Orion has been entered for the Gr. 1 Caulfield Guineas, but it’s doubtful he will get in the race. “We might have to revisit where we go with him next,” said Baker.

There was joy for Baker and his co-trainer Andrew Forsman at Te Awamutu today when Sakhees Soldier took a step towards the Gr. 1 $400,000 Sothy’s NZ 2000 Guineas at Riccarton next month.

Sakhees Soldier, a son of The Oaks sire Sakhees Secret, lived right up to Baker’s expectations when racing away to a six-length debut win in the Tony Fabish Panelworks 1400 in the hands of Matt Cameron.

“He’s a nice horse and I’ve liked him all the way through,” said Baker. “I wasn’t surprised to see him do that. She’s still in the 2000 Guineas. I only left two of ours in it. The other is Atlante, who is racing at Avondale tomorrow.”

Sakhees Soldier was bred by The Oaks Stud and Baker bought him privately for some first-time Melbourne clients.

Sakhees Soldier had two trials going into today’s race, both at Cambridge. He was runner-up to the highly rated Cosmic Cube last March and after returning from a spell he was a long neck second on September 10.