From the Commentary Box – Monday, 23rd September 2013


Boom Cambridge galloper Dundeel did the unthinkable last Saturday.

The Underwood Stakes at Caulfield was supposed to be another win for budding champion Aussie mare Atlantic Jewel.

Unbeaten in nine previous starts, Atlantic Jewel was considered a certainty to win the race.

Most pre race discussions centred around how much Atlantic Jewel would win by.

For the first half of the race, things looked to be going according to plan with Atlantic Jewel soon in front and dictating her own terms in front.

What most people didn’t count on though was the brilliant tactical ride from Dundeel’s jockey, James McDonald.

Sensing Michael Rodd, aboard Atlantic Jewel, was going to dictate terms in front with an uncontested lead, McDonald threw his pre race instructions out the door.

“I was told to ride him back in the field and come at them with the last run” said McDonald after the race.

When Dundeel broke well from the gates, McDonald didn’t hesitate to take advantage of that fact.

“I could see Atlantic Jewel was going to get her own way in front, so I thought I’d go up outside her and sit there” said McDonald.

That single move was the undoubted winning of the race.

As the other runners jostled for positions back in the field throughout the race, courtesy of the lack of speed from the leaders, Dundeel was tracking Atlantic Jewel.

Nearing the home turn as the pace increased, all the back runners had no chance to pick up the leaders.

Dundeel however was poised to pounce.

With 200m to go Atlantic Jewel was under pressure to hold out Dundeel, with the two horses staging a titanic struggle over the concluding stages.

Eventually Dundeel got his head in front right on the line, much to the disbelief of most observers.

The win was the third in the race for co trainer Murray Baker.

“I won it previously with The Phantom and Lion Tamer, but this is very special” said Baker later.

“To see those two horses go head to head was exciting” said Baker.

For McDonald the win, and his tactical brilliance, further enhanced his already glowing reputation.

“It was a hero or zero situation, but I’ve got the utmost faith in my horse’s ability” said McDonald.

While disappointed at being beaten, Atlantic Jewel’s jockey Michael Rodd was gracious in defeat.

“I can’t complain with the run we had, but we got beaten by a very good horse and an outstanding ride” said Rodd.

Although beaten, Rodd was eagerly looking forward to a rematch with Dundeel in the Cox Plate in a few weeks’ time.

“My mare is better ridden just off the pace and I’m sure she’ll improve further with this run too” said Rodd.

Rodd’s reaction epitomised his professionalism.

He is a genuinely decent bloke and a top rider to boot as well.    

Personally, I hope Dundeel’s win may silence some sections of the Aussie media.

A Sydney daily newspaper last week questioned how good Dundeel actually was.

The headline was “It’s A Dud Deel” in reference to Dundeel’s Aussie race name, It’s A Dundeel.

Also Ron Dufficy, the outspoken panelist on Aussie Retro, claimed a couple of weeks ago on the show, how the Kiwis had battled to be competitive in recent years.

To that daily newspaper and Ron Dufficy I suggest a healthy dollop of humble pie is in order.

Mind you, looking at Dufficy, he may have already started eating his fair share of humble pie !! 

I’ll catch you next week.