McDonald gives Dundeel thumbs up

James McDonald is pleased trainer Murray Baker gave Dundeel an exhibition gallop between races at Caulfield today.

The solo hit-out was part of the build-up to Saturday week’s Gr. 1 $A3.3 million Sportingbet Cox Plate at Moonee Valley and it gave McDonald an opportunity to weigh-up the Cambridge galloper’s fitness for the testing event..

Dundeel, who races in Australia as It’s A Dundeel, had missed the Caulfield Stakes last Saturday lead-up because of a hoof abscess and  Baker is making up for lost time with his stable star.

“He needed it,” said McDonald after Dundeel had worked alone today. “He was a bit fresh and he worked to the 600 (metres) quiet strongly and finished it off really impressively.

“He doesn’t really work that hard without a mate and without blinkers on, but he cruised around here and felt brilliant.

“He’s real fresh. Even going around, he towed me around, but he finished it off and galloped brilliantly. He swapped legs at the top of the straight and felt good.”

Dundeel will be third-up going into the Cox Plate, in which he will again meet Atlantic Jewel’s whose winning streak he ended when beating her in the Gr. 1 Underwood Stakes at Caulfield last start.

“When he won the Rosehill Guineas he was third-up,” said McDonald. “He likes his racing spaced.”

Baker had originally planned to work Dundeel with Sangster today, but the latter is scheduled to be flown home to New Zealand tomorrow. However, Dundeel will have a mate when he works at the Breakfast With The Stars at Moonee Valley next Tuesday morning.

“That should top him off more,” said Baker. “I don’t think he lost too much with the time off. He only missed a couple of days and he’s an athletic type.

“I thought he was spot on before (the hoof abscess) and he’s one of those horses that doesn’t need a lot of work.”

Baker is looking forward to a rematch with Atlantic Jewel at Moonee Valley. “She’s a champion and will take a lot of beating,” he said.