Hey, he’s the real “Deel!”

Australian punters, buoyed by the parochial Sydney media, saw the Group I $A405,000 Chandon Spring Champion Stakes as a one-horse race at Randwick today, but they all got it wrong.

Proisir and the Cambridge three-year-old (It’s A) Dundeel, both unbeaten colts, clashed in the 2000-metre feature, but listening to all the pre-race hype and you would have thought New Zealand’s big hope was only chasing second money. Proisir was backed as unbeatable and even the extra cramped odds were being referred to as good money by the Sydney trackside presenter Richard Callander, who could not see the Gai Waterhouse-trained colt halted in his bid to make it four wins straight.

On the day, however, Proisir was no match for the determination of the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained Dundeel, who credited champion Kiwi jockey James McDonald with his second Group One success in Sydney and his third in Australia.

“We have knocked off the hot shot and it is a bloody good feeling,” said McDonald after the race. “They are talking about Gai’s horse being a Cox Plate horse. Just imagine what my horse is going to be when it comes to the Derby.”

The Group I VRC Derby is the main goal for Dundeel and the manner in which he came from last to land his fifth win has seen him elevated into favouritism for the Flemington 2500-metre feature later this month. And when it comes to winning the VRC Derby, the Baker stable knows how to do it, having landed the money a couple of seasons ago with Lion Tamer.

McDonald settled Dundeel at the tail of the field today with Proisir a couple of placings ahead. And approaching the home turn he made a move to sweep around Proisir and try and pocket him.

“It was a nice pace early, but slowed up from the 1000m onwards, hence why I made a little bit of a move early,” said McDonald. “He has a little bit of a flat spot and he hit it at the 500 metres and ended up letting Proisir out so it was a good effort to reel him back in.”

Proisir was being hailed as the winner when he hit the front early in the run home despite Dundeel being right on his hammer. And when it came to a fight it was the Kiwi who proved the toughest as he grabbed the honours.

“He has got that will to win,” said McDonald. “He definitely knows where that winning post is and he is a pleasure to ride. He is a big favourite of mine. He is going the right way to winning the Derby. He is going to have to keep improving, but he is taking every step in his stride.”

Dundeel lived right up to the expectations of Baker, who quickly realised his potential as a two-year-old with an autumn win at Ellerslie on debut to his credit. Dundeel was sent straight to Sydney this season and has improved with each run, always doing his best work over the final stages.

“He is a good staying horse who hits the line well,” said Baker. “I got worried when he was back (today), but he just outstayed them. He really digs deep in the last 100m, he seems to find another gear.

“When I came back on Wednesday I thought he’d improved a bit and I thought he would be pretty hard to beat today.  I’ve got my trip down to Melbourne now.”

The Baker — Forsman stable landed a stakes double today as down at Riccarton Jeu de Cartes raced away with the Listed Christchurch Casino Spring Classic (2000m) in the hands of Matt Cameron.

Jeu de Cartes is a daughter of Baker’s dual Group One winner Prized Gem, whose wins included the Brisbane Cup and Kelt Capital Stakes (the race won today  by Shez Sinsational), and a half-sister to Nom du Jeu, the stable’s winner of the Group I AJC Derby.

According to Forsman, there is a chance Jeu de Cartes could join Dundeel in Melbourne. Her mission will be some of the lesser staying races.