James McDonald (left) riding It's A Dundeel to victoryPICTURE: Getty Images
It's A Dundeel stars in Queen Elizabeth Stakes
Report: Australia, Saturday
Randwick: Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group 1) 1m2f, turf, 3yo+
CARLTON HOUSE made a valiant attempt to win the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the race named in honour of his royal owner, but after trying to make all he was run down in the straight and was well beaten in third behind the outstanding It's A Dundeel (Murray Baker/James McDonald).
Royal Ascot could beckon for the winner, whose majority owner John Messara is this week expected to enter the four-year-old for both the Queen Anne and Prince of Wales's Stakes, where a clash with Treve would provide the potential highlight of the meeting.
"We'll have a think about it overnight," said Arrowfield Stud boss Messara. "I think it is a bad idea to make raceday decisions. I am going to sleep on it for a couple of days, consult fellow members of the syndicate and then come back."
Nick Smith, Royal Ascot's head of communications and international racing, was on hand to press the royal meeting's claims. "It's A Dundeel has emerged as the number one horse in Australia and New Zealand, and de facto he is the horse we want to get this year," he said.
"I had dinner with John Messara and the original owners. John is basically keen on Royal Ascot but he is adamant he won't make a raceday decision.
"We talked about it in detail and he is going to sleep on it but he knows the entries close on Tuesday and hopefully the horse will be in both the Queen Anne and the Prince of Wales's."
After pre-race drama in which he slipped in the saddling boxes and had to pass the vet, It's A Dundeel was sent off 17-5 second favourite for the A$4 million (£2.22m) contest. The race itself - now the most valuable 1m2f turf race in the world - was to prove rather more straightforward for the New Zealand-trained son of High Chaparral, who was settled in third by rising star McDonald as the former Sir Michael Stoute-trained Carlton House strode on at a generous clip.
There were gaps throughout the field as they turned into the straight where McDonald asked It's A Dundeel to quicken. He easily made up the deficit to swamp the leader as they approached the final furlong before holding the late charge of last week's Doncaster Mile winner Sacred Falls.
"We've worked all the autumn for this," said winning jockey McDonald. "When he worked on Tuesday, I got off and said they don't work as good as the way he works. He was back to his best and it was so good to win today."
In December, Messara's Arrowfield Stud secured a controlling interest in It's A Dundeel for a rumoured A$10m - about £5.6m. Messara may well have had divided loyalties in the Queen Elizabeth as he is also chairman of Racing NSW and a prime mover in the staging of the Championships, designed to showcase Sydney racing to an international audience.
As such, there would surely have been few better publicity opportunities than a royal victory, but it wasn't to be as It's A Dundeel held Sacred Falls by three-quarters of a length with Carlton House three lengths back in third. The favourite Silent Achiever, who had beaten It's A Dundeel on her two last two starts, was fourth this time.
"We wanted to roll along at a decent tempo but My Kingdom Of Fife coming up outside of us didn't help," said Carlton House's rider Tommy Berry. "He wanted to get a bit keen but he has a Group 1 placing in Australia and I'm sure he will improve.."
It's A Dundeel, who has now won six Group 1s, had been beaten on all three previous starts at the autumn carnival.
"He took a while to get fit this time around," said Messara. "He seemed to be one run behind and we were a little disappointed with him on the way. Murray [Baker] had him right on the day though.
"Our bloke is now at the top of his game. It has taken three runs for him to get here and he showed us what he could do today. He was trained to perfection for this race as it turns out and here he is."
Baker could hardly believe the amount his horse had won. "It's amazing - it's mind boggling," he said.
"We aimed him for this all along and we thought his gallop on Thursday was back to last year as a three-year-old - it's the most spark he has shown," added the trainer. "He fell over in the parade ring and gave us all sorts of worries but we thought he was spot-on today."
McDonald, a Sydney-based Kiwi, was overjoyed. "I can't believe it," he said. "Not sure I'm more happy about winning the A$4m or the race I don't know.
"This horse has taken me to heights I never thought I'd reach," he added. "I'd like to thank all the Kiwi supporters out there."
>>A crowd of 25,525 was in attendance at Randwick for day two of the inaugural Championships meeting.