Racing: McDonald looks for big upset

By Mike Dillon

Proisir is the odds-on favourite for Spring Champion Stakes but It's A Dundeel is also on a roll.

The Turnbull Stakes is a stronger line-up than Zurella has met in two Melbourne starts. Photo / Michael Cunningham
The Turnbull Stakes is a stronger line-up than Zurella has met in two Melbourne starts. Photo / Michael Cunningham

It's A Dundeel has risen to every challenge so far and his jockey James McDonald is counting on his staying prowess to fashion an upset against the brilliance of Proisir in the group one Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick in Sydney today.

Proisir is the odds-on favourite for the 2000m race after his explosive five-length victory in the group three Spring Stakes (1600m) at Newcastle, his third win from as many starts.

It's A Dundeel is also unbeaten from his four starts including the Gloaming Stakes (1800m) two weeks ago.

"There's a pretty good horse in the field on Saturday, the horse of Gai's [Waterhouse] who is going to be hard to beat," McDonald said.

"Especially considering my fella is a backmarker and he [Proisir] is an on-pace runner, so he's going to be hard to run down.

"But I've got a bit of confidence in my horse - he goes pretty well."

The Murray Baker-trained It's A Dundeel arrived from New Zealand in August as the winner of an Ellerslie maiden and has continued to win with narrow victories at Wyong and Canterbury before a fast-finishing Gloaming Stakes success.

The jockey believes the extra 200m will suit It's A Dundeel today.

"People have said he hasn't beaten much but all he can do is win and he is a horse that's never going to win by a big margin," McDonald said.

"He's a colt that only does what he has to and that's what he has done to date. Hopefully he can keep that picket fence going."

McDonald also believes the colt stacks up well against recent New Zealand 3-year-olds that have been successful in classic races in Australia.

McDonald rode the Trent Busuttin-trained Sangster to third in last year's Spring Champion and second in the Norman Robinson Stakes.

He was replaced for the group one Victoria Derby, which Sangsterwon.

"I always said he [It's A Dundeel] was better than Sangster, but Sangster was a different type of horse," McDonald said. "Sangster had a bit more brilliance about him.

"This horse is very good but he can sustain a longer run than Sangster. He's got a high cruising speed and for a stayer he's got a good turn of foot as you saw last start in the Gloaming."

Proisir is the $1.45 favourite with TAB fixed odds ahead of It's A Dundeel at $4.80 - the only other runner under double-figure odds.

•Shaune Ritchie says to expect another Let's Elope run from Zurella in today's A$500,000 Turnbull Stakes, but adds a question mark.

"The way she's worked and the way she looks I'm sure she's as well as when she won the Let's Elope before getting beaten last start, but whether that's good enough to win this race remains to be seen.

The Turnbull Stakes is a stronger line-up than Zurella has met in two Melbourne starts.

"It's basically the Caulfield Cup field minus the European horses.

"The next Caulfield and Melbourne Cup payments are due on Tuesday and the pair of them come to around $5000, so the payments are starting to ramp up.

"If she's not going to be competitive in the big races it'll pay to find out now and we can knock back her training and aim her at the 1600m mares races.

"There is a fair bit of money in those races."

Zurella has a change of rider today with Sydney's Chris Munce taking the reins.


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