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Big weekend for Dunn gets underway at Newcastle

It could be a big weekend for Warwick Farm-based trainer Matthew Dunn, with live chances across feature races at both Newcastle (Friday) and Randwick (Saturday).

Trainer Matthew Dunn has a busy weekend ahead, picture sportpix.com.au 

British import Cepheus (GB) will take his place in the Group Three Cameron Handicap (1500m), with the chance of a Good rated track at Newcastle the determining factor. The five-year-old is in the first acceptances for the Melbourne and Caulfield cups, sitting at 72nd and 68th in the ballots respectively.

The son of Sea The Stars didn’t handle the deteriorating track at Randwick last start, with the run showing his trainer a rise in trip may be needed. Dunn has a good opinion of the entire and believes that he could be a Cup’s contender next year.

“We’ve approached him with an open mind early in his preparation, because he was really sharp in his trials and particularly first-up,” he said.

“We thought that maybe he was a miler. Maybe train him a bit different to how he would’ve been overseas. The way he’s working and the way he ran last start, I know he didn’t handle the track, but I think he’s going to get to 2000m and beyond.

“With travelling and quarantine, he had a bit of time off. I just need one more run to get him up to his right trip, so he’ll go up to 2000m after Friday or Saturday.

“He’s a decent horse, he’s got huge amounts of talent and he’ll go a long way. He’s entered for the cups, but I don’t know whether he’s ready to do that in this preparation. Maybe next year that’ll be something we look at, but that’s where we’re hopeful to end up, a Caulfield Cup horse perhaps.”

Laure Me In has been accepted for both the Group Three Newcastle Gold Cup (2300m), and the Group Three Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) at Randwick. Although accepted in both, the Warwick Farm-based horseman is leaning the way of starting the seven-year-old at Newcastle.

The son of Ad Valorem (USA) was unlucky in the Wyong Cup last start but won well two starts ago in the Premiers Cup Prelude at Kembla Grange. Dunn said the seven-year-old has come through the run well, with the Group One Metropolitan his spring target.

“Not much went right for him at Wyong,” he said. “The race was stop-start, [and] he copped a couple of decent bumps on the point of the corner.

“He’s quite a big horse and that probably didn’t suit him getting around that little, tight track. But he’s come through the run very well and I was happy with the way that he came through.

“That’s always been the objective this preparation, to head to the Metropolitan. Provided everything stays on track as it is now, that’s the way we’ll go.”

Last start winner Rocklily will face a big jump in grade, going from a midweek maiden victory to lining up in the Group Two Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday. Despite it only being a maiden, the daughter of Exceed And Excel won in impressive fashion, leading all the way to score by 1.9L on a Heavy rated Kensington surface.

Dunn believes the three weeks between runs will suit the three-year-old, adding that it was always the plan to end up in the Tea Rose.

“She’s done really well and the space between runs will help a lot,” he said.

“Physically, she’s a magnificent specimen. She’s got all the bits and pieces that you need, but mentally she’s still dealing with things a bit.

“This was always the plan. We were sort of hoping she’d win the start before so we could take a baby step into where we’re going now, but she’s just got to step up.

“She’s a decent filly. It might be a bridge too far right now, but she deserves a shot for sure. She’s given us no reason to stop her this preparation — she could go right through, but I think in the Autumn is where we’ll see the best of her.”

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