Bookmakers around the country can’t find a dollar for Carlton House in Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but the cheer squad for her majesty’s horse will be led by It’s A Dundeel’s owner and Racing NSW chairman John Messara.
The architect of The Championships would love to win its $4 million showpiece, but he wants success for the event even more.
“Honestly, I have to say if It’s A Dundeel and Carlton House come away to fight it out I’ll be cheering, but I don’t know who for,” Messara said.
“If the Queen’s horse can win it, it would bring worldwide attention on the race and the day. I want this to be a success for racing in NSW and any personal success would have to come second.
“So I wouldn’t mind if It’s A Dundeel runs second in that scenario.”
The bookmakers would lean the same way after a big shift towards It’s A Dundeel since the barrier draw, which has led to the four-year-old usurping Carlton House as favourite. The entire is the $4 favourite with Ladbrokes ahead of Carlton House at $4.20 and Ranvet Stakes and The BMW winner Silent Achiever at $4.60.
Sportingbet’s Michael Sullivan said punters had got the race down to two, It’s A Dundeel and Silent Achiever.
“The Queen obviously doesn’t have a bet and everyone else is following her lead,” Sullivan said.
“We are very happy to take on It’s A Dundeel, it has won a race this autumn and is a good risk. Punters definitely have a different view and are also backing Silent Achiever.
“We will be cheering the rest.”
It is a similar story at the TAB where It’s A Dundeel has been popular since betting opened.
“It’s A Dundeel was about 40 per cent of the money bet on the race before the barrier draw and that has gone to 45 per cent in the last three days,” TAB’s Glenn Munsie said.
“The punters don’t want to be with the Queen’s horse at all, it was probably a false favourite. It’s A Dundeel has always had support from the time we started betting and they just think that he is peaking for this race.”
Messara can understand the ground swell of support for the horse his Arrowfield Stud took a majority interest in, valuing him at $10 million after a frustrating autumn.
It’s A Dundeel started favourite when he found Queen Elizabeth rival Boban too good in the Chipping Norton Stakes at the beginning of his campaign before a grinding effort behind Silent Achiever and Carlton House in the Ranvet Stakes.
“The whole way through he has been a run or half-run behind,” Messara said. “He just hasn’t been where we wanted him, but the trainer [Murray Baker] is very happy now and he has him at his best for the big day.
“His last run in the BMW when he came from last [to run second to Silent Achiever] was his best and things have gone forward from there.”
Messara’s focus has been on building an event for Sydney racing rather than It’s A Dundeel and he was delighted to get a break in the weather leading into Saturday.
“We had great racing last weekend and with the sun out we have the weather to match it now,” he said.
“I think the Queen Elizabeth is a fantastic race and we will see a real contest. It’s A Dundeel would be a good result for me but there are great stories in the others.
“The Queen’s horse, Silent Achiever, which would confirm herself as the dominant racehorse of the autumn, or even Chris Waller, who could continue his great form after getting the first four in the Doncaster.
“The build-up was been great, we need the race to match it.”
Messara has racing interests through the day with Woodbine carrying the Arrowfield colours in the South Pacific Classic, while Havana will run in the Royal Sovereign Stakes before heading to the Brisbane winter carnival.
“We are really hoping that the track gets to a dead condition for Havana because he is a very good horse on the right ground,” Messara said.
“He has been gelded and I think we have a racehorse now. We are very concerned about the wide draw but given the right sort of track it is a race we would be confident in.
“Woodbine has been a colt we have had a good rap on and it would be satisfying if could get a black-type win before going for a spell.”