Yamazaki not Dunn with yet

Trainer Matt Dunn hasn’t given up hope that Yamazaki could yet sneak into the field for The Invitation, confident the enigmatic mare has returned to work better than ever. The backmarker is second reserve for Saturday’s $2 million showpiece and Dunn says she won’t be out of her depth if she can secure a last-minute start. 

“She is second emergency for The Invitation and I’d love to get a run in that. If not, she’ll run in the Filante [Handicap],” Dunn said. 

“Some of her runs in Queensland were incredible. She ran second to Nudge a couple of times and if one of those results had gone the other way, she probably would have got a run in The Invitation.” 

Matt Dunn thinks Yamazaki will acquit herself well if she gets an Invitation start, picture

Yamazaki finished second to Nudge in both the Pam O’Neill and Sapphire Stakes during the Brisbane winter carnival and was warming up late when she resumed behind Minhaaj in The Nivison, making ground on the worst part of the track. 

Whether she tackles the Filante Handicap (1400m) or The Invitation on Saturday’s Randwick card, Dunn is optimistic Yamazaki will make her presence felt. Formerly trained by the disqualified David Pfieffer, the 6-year-old has raced four times for Dunn, who also used to accommodate her at his Murwillumbah base when she was campaigning in Queensland. 

A sour mare who was difficult to deal with, Dunn has seen a significant change in her demeanour and credits regular trips to the beach for keeping her in a good mood. 

“She is a much happier horse than what she has ever been,” Dunn said. “She used to stay at my place at Murwillumbah when David had her and if you tried to put a saddle on her, she’d bite and she was a handful. But she’s turned the corner and she doesn’t do that now. She is quite manageable. 

“Her gallop on Tuesday was as good as she’s worked since I’ve been in charge of her.” 

Yamazaki has scored three of her five wins over 1400m, the most recent in the Listed Silk Stocking at the Gold Coast in May.