It’s A Dundeel is shaping up favourably against recent Victoria Derby winners as he takes his next step towards Classic targets at Canterbury on Wednesday.
The Murray Baker-trained colt made a winning introduction to Australian racing at Wyong two weeks ago and has been kept to midweek company, albeit against older horses, in the Australian Turf Club Handicap (1580m).
The New Zealand colt, who has had a name change from Dundeel to It’s A Dundeel since his Wyong win, has continued to please in his temporary home at the Warwick Farm stables of Baker’s son Bjorn.
Bjorn Baker said Wednesday’s event fitted in nicely with the colt’s likely program instead of a race such as the Listed Ming Dynasty Quality (1400m) against his own age on Saturday.
“He’s probably looking for that bit further and his main aim in Sydney is the Spring Champion Stakes, all going well,” Baker said.
“This race fits in in terms of going to the Gloaming Stakes and hopefully the Spring Champion.”
The past three Victoria Derby winners – Sangster (2011), the Baker family-trained Lion Tamer (2010) and Monaco Consul (2009) – have all been from New Zealand.
“It’s still early days in the scheme of things and he’s got a long way to go, but he’s got some real quality about him,” Bjorn Baker said.
“The past three years horses from New Zealand have come through Sydney on their way to Melbourne and at the same stage his profile is definitely as good as Sangster and Monaco Consul,” Baker said.
“Lion Tamer won the Ming Dynasty in his first start in Australia and was a dual stakes winner at two in New Zealand.”
Baker trained the ill-fated Lion Tamer in partnership with his father but has since set up his own operation in Sydney.
Baker said there was always a bit of concern with horses second-up from a spell but said the son of High Chaparral had thrived in Sydney.
It’s A Dundeel will be ridden by star New Zealand jockey James McDonald who has relocated to Australia from this week.
McDonald has ridden the colt in his two starts for two wins.