It’s A Dundeel’s website launched today
When trainer Murray Baker says, “Dundeel’s the best horse I’ve trained by quite a bit,” he is making a big statement.
It’s part of the story told in words, images & videos on It’s A Dundeel’s website: www.therealdeel.com.au, which has gone live on Tuesday morning, just as the horse himself settles back into the Warwick Farm stable of Murray’s son Bjorn for his Autumn 2014 campaign, and his first in the ownership of Arrowfield Stud.
The website is titled Dundeel, the original New Zealand-registered name by which he will be known as a stallion. A special feature of the site is The Story which uses videos interspersed with text to create an interactive story-telling experience.
It’s A Dundeel completed his final piece of work last Friday at Cambridge in New Zealand, pleasing his trainer with a bright gallop over 950 metres, finishing a half-length ahead of his stable mate, the NZ 2000 Guineas G1 winner Atlante, who travelled with him to Sydney on Sunday.
Given a current Timeform rating of 125, the handsome son of High Chaparral is Australia’s top-ranked entire alongside Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente, and the early favourite for the feature race of The Championships, the $4 million ATC Queen Elizabeth S. G1 on 19 April.
It’s A Dundeel doesn’t have much left to prove in Australia, with five Group 1 victories from 1600 to 2400 metres, including a history-making sweep through last season’s Sydney classic races and a magnificent defeat of Atlantic Jewel in the 1800-metre Underwood Stakes.
However, Murray Baker and It’s A Dundeel’s breeder & co-owner Murray Andersen have always maintained he would be seen at his best as an Autumn 4YO. If they are right, his programme of four Group 1 races, beginning with the ATC Chipping Norton S. over 1600 metres on 8 March, will light up the entire BMW Sydney Carnival.
Baker’s assessment of It’s A Dundeel is backed by the stable’s outstanding honour roll extending back to the 1980s when he trained his first major winner, Sir Vigilant (NZ St Leger G1, Wellington Derby G2).
Then along came multiple Group winner Kates Myth, the first of Baker’s three New Zealand Fillies of the Year, and the first top-class performer he brought to Australia, The Phantom, who raced with great distinction in a champion-filled era.
The Phantom (Noble Bijou) was placed in the South Australian Derby G1 at three, and the following season placed in Group 1 weight-for-age class behind champion mare Horlicks in New Zealand and Almaarad in the Underwood S. G1.
At five, The Phantom hit his straps, defeating Royal Creation and Zabeel in the Underwood, finishing an unlucky second in Kingston Rule’s record-breaking Melbourne Cup G1, and fourth in the Cox Plate G1. Injury derailed The Phantom for the next two seasons, but Baker nursed him back as an 8YO to score probably the best win of his career, in the 1993 L.K.S. MacKinnon S. G1, beating Fraar and Naturalism.
Around the same time, high-class stayer My Eagle Eye (Grosvenor) emerged from New Zealand 3YO Group 1 success to claim the 1992 Sydney Cup G1, beating Aquidity and Castletown, and the Ranvet Stakes G1, defeating Rough Habit and Stylish Century.
Another stable resident in that period was It’s A Dundeel’s grand-dam Staring (Fiesta Star), who was New Zealand Filly of the Year, and trained on at four to win in Group 1 weight-for-age company over 2000 metres.
More recently, Nom du Jeu (by Montjeu from another Baker-trained Group 1 winner, Prized Gem) won the 2008 Australian Derby G1 and placed in four other Group 1 events, including the 2008 Caulfield Cup G1.
Two years later, Baker returned to Melbourne with another gifted “traveller”, 3YO colt Lion Tamer (Storming Home) who won the 2010 Victoria Derby G1 and, like It’s A Dundeel, confirmed his class with victory in the 2011 Underwood. Tragically, he was euthanised after fracturing a leg during the Cox Plate.
On that terrible day in October 2011 Baker told the media, “I’ve now just got to find another one.”
He didn’t know it then, but he already had. The 2YO colt by High Chaparral from Stareel had just entered the stable for the first time and almost exactly a year later, on 6 October 2012, he would put the Baker stable back in the Australian Group 1 winner’s circle.