Dun­deel goes out with a bang

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

weather that had un­done many car­ni­val as­pi­ra­tions, in­clud­ing those of Mata­mata’s New Zealand Derby win­ner Puc­cini.

Af­ter a fi­nal dose of 20mm of rain on Tues­day night that sent the Rand­wick track back in the heavy range, the skies cleared at last on Wed­nes­day and stayed that way right through the hol­i­day weekend.

A Fri­day morn­ing visit to the Rand­wick track was a tasty en­tree, with some of the best train­ers and jock­eys from near and far gath­ered as they put their charges through their fi­nal work be­fore the fol­low­ing day’s main event.

Young New Zealand train­ers David Greene of Te Rapa and Mata­mata’s Lance No­ble were there with their weekend run­ners Beauty’s Beast and Vi­adana, along with older hands Ken Kelso and Donna Lo­gan who had their classy three-year-old fil­lies look­ing good for their big as­sign­ments.

Race day dawned to a dry­ing track that the lo­cals were de­scrib­ing as a Slow 7 – com­pa­ra­ble to New Zealand track with a bit of mois­ture in it – amid pre­dic­tions that it would im­prove only slightly as the day wore on.

The ac­tion couldn’t have started bet­ter for the Kiwi con­tin­gent when 33-year-old Greene pro­duced his first ever Syd­ney run­ner to lead through­out in a three-year-old sprint car­ry­ing one of the lesser but still healthy stakes at A$150,000.

Beauty’s Beast, a son of Wind­sor Park Stud stal­lion Guil­lo­tine who had won at Te Aroha on Breed­ers’ Stakes two weeks ear­lier, treated his ri­vals to a gal­lop­ing les­son as he waltzed home an easy win­ner. Co-owner­breeder Nel­son Schick was on hand to ac­cept the tro­phies, hav­ing ar­rived on a morn­ing flight and promis­ing me when I saw him af­ter the fi­nal race that he and trav­el­ling com­pan­ion Roger Blunt fully in­tended to catch their late night re­turn flight.

In the fourth race, star Mata­mata filly Bound­ing did all she could to win the A$500,000 Royal Sov­er­eign Stakes only to be de­nied in the last two strides by the home town favourite Side­step.

The re­sult was in some ways hard to take given the Rail­way Stakes win­ner had to work hard early from her out­side gate and was be­ing hailed the win­ner un­til right on the line, but there was noth­ing but ad­mirable praise from co-trainer Ken Kelso and owner Gary Hard­ing.

Next up it was Vi­adana’s turn to see if she could bring her ex­cel­lent New Zealand form to the Rand­wick arena in the A$1 mil­lion Queen of the Turf Stakes. Lance No­ble had her look­ing bright and bouncy and the big team that had cheered her all through the last year were there in all their fin­ery.

A brave fifth, two lengths from the Gai Water­house-trained win­ner Di­a­mond Drille, was her lot how­ever, and while she wouldn’t have won you were just left won­der­ing if she could have fin­ished a plac­ing or two closer if the breaks had gone her way in the straight.

The A$1 mil­lion Aus­tralian Oaks, race six on the card, had a dom­i­nant Kiwi pres­ence headed by the favourite, Sav­abeel filly Lu­cia Valentina, with a strong sup­port act com­pris­ing the Lo­gan sta­ble’s New Zealand Derby run­ner-up Ris­ing Ro­mance, New Zealand Oaks win­ner Miss Moss­man whose trainer John Sar­gent and own­ers the Cloth­ier clan were hop­ing could turn around her dis­ap­point­ing first-up Syd­ney form, and the filly who had chased her home in the Tren­tham clas­sic, the John Bary­trained O’Reilly filly Miss Selby.

In the end the race be­longed to Ris­ing Ro­mance as James McDon­ald made up for his erring pre­vi­ous start ride with a per­fect dis­play on the Ruakaka filly.

Af­ter track­ing the lead­ers he took her to the front at the top of the straight and never look­ing like be­ing over­hauled.

Auck­land Cup win­ner Who Shot The­bar­man had a strong sup­port crew dis­tinc­tive in their match­ing caps on hand for his big mis­sion in the A$1 mil­lion Syd­ney Cup, but there was no McDon­ald magic this time as the raw geld­ing was forced over ground early in the two-miler and ul­ti­mately faded on a likely home turn run. So to the main event. The A$ mil­lion Queen El­iz­a­beth Stakes had for weeks been touted as a true in­ter­na­tional match-up.

The monarch af­ter which the race is named had her colours up on the Gai Water­house-trained Carl­ton House, three of Aus­tralia’s big­gest own­ers, Lloyd Wil­liams, John Sin­gle­ton and Gerry Har­vey, each had run­ners and then there was the po­tent Kiwi con­tin­gent of Silent Achiever, It’s A Dun­deel and Sa­cred Falls.

An hour and a half be­fore the race, stew­ards an­nounced that the horse we know as Dun­deel had spooked and slipped over in the sta­ble are, tak­ing skin off a hind leg but hope­fully not harm­ing him­self fur­ther.

The five-time Group One win­ner re­mained the horse they wanted to back, how­ever, with the Roger James-trained Silent Achiever also well up the or­der as she at­tempted to com­pleted an au­tumn Group One tre­ble for owner Kevin Hick­man.

Sa­cred Falls was there for the chal­lenge head­ing ex-pat Chris Waller’s five-strong team, back­ing up from his Don­caster Mile win of the pre­vi­ous weekend.

Part-own­ers Garry and Mary Chittick were on hand hop­ing for a bonus to go with what the studbound O’Reilly colt had al­ready achieved in his 18-start, eight-win ca­reer.

When the cheer­ing was over It’s A Dun­deel, jockey James McDon­ald and trainer Mur­ray Baker were the he­roes of the hour.

With a per­for­mance that was to bring the cur­tain down on what could only be de­scribed as a bril­liant ca­reer, It’s A Dun­deel took the race by the throat and dashed home to score from a hardly in­fe­rior Sa­cred Falls.

Spec­u­la­tion that It’s A Dun­deel would be en­tered for races at the Royal As­cot car­ni­val ended with the an­nounce­ment on Mon­day that he will be re­tired forth­with to Ar­row­field Stud.

Sa­cred Falls has been en­tered ten­ta­tively for Royal As­cot, with the more likely sce­nario that he will also go to stud this spring, join­ing his sire O’Reilly in the po­tent Waikato line-up.

It would be un­fair to sign off this week’s rac­ing page with­out men­tion of the win on the lo­cal scene by Whosy­our­mas­ter at Hast­ings on Satur­day.

The black-type sprint vic­tory for train­ers Lance O’Sul­li­van and Andrew Scott and owner-breed­ers Danny and Judy Moss was due re­ward for a horse whose record would be so much bet­ter but for a wind af­flic­tion.

Spec­tac­u­lar: It’s A Dun­deel and James McDon­ald cap a su­perb day for the Ki­wis with vic­tory in the A$4 mil­lion Queen El­iz­a­beth Stakes at Rand­wick on Satur­day.

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