Trainer Matt Dunn and his staff will be a busy team over the next few days, especially at Murwillumbah on Sunday when the stable could have 17 runners across the nine-race meeting.
Dunn’s strong numbers at Sunday’s meeting have come about following the loss of last Tuesday’s Murwillumbah meeting, abandoned after the first race following a heavy storm which left surface water on sections of the track.
Five Dunn horses who didn’t get a run last Tuesday – Spanish Hurricane, Loose Goose, Fear Factor, Major Luck and Mia’s Got Class – will get another chance at Sunday’s meeting.
Throw in Dunn’s nine runners at Saturday’s Gold Coast meeting and another two starters at Randwick on the same afternoon and the stable is in for a hectic weekend.
“And I’ve also got 18 horses down to trial (on Sunday),” said the Murwillumbah-based trainer. “I’ve got a staff of 36 and we are all going to be pretty busy. Keira (Dunn’s wife) will got to Sydney with our Randwick runners (Runway Ready and Londehero) and I’ll be at the Coast on Saturday and Murwillumbah on Sunday.
“Last Tuesday’s abandoned meeting has boosted our runners at Murwillumbah on Sunday and I’m pretty sure 17 runners on the day will be our highest ever number of runners at one meeting.”
Dunn rates Wallander (race three) and Star Rock (race seven) as two of his strongest contenders on Sunday.
Wallander, a beaten favourite on debut at Doomben on December 20, lines up in the Westlawn Finance & Insurance Maiden Hcp (1200m).
Sent out the $2.15 favourite on debut, the Domesday three-year-old was run down in the final stages by Engraved to be beaten 1-1/4 lengths.
“I was disappointed he was beaten but not in his performance,” said Dunn. “Nothing went right for him really, missing the start slightly and then going forward to lead from an awkward draw.
“But I think he’s a very nice horse and after Sunday’s race we’ll probably take him to Sydney for one of those TAB Highways.”
Star Rock will step up to the Pottsville Beach Sports Club Benchmark 65 Hcp (1530m) after breaking through in dominant fashion at his previous start in an Ipswich Maiden (1350m) on December 22.
Formerly trained in Melbourne by Ciaron Maher for his first two starts, Star Rock had been a costly horse for favourite backers in his first two runs for Dunn late in 2017, finishing fifth first-up at the Gold Coast as the $1.90 favourite then third at Murwillumbah (on a heavy 9) on December 8 as the $2.50 favourite. But he bounced back in fine style at Ipswich on December 22 as the $2.30 favourite, romping home by three lengths.
“I was a bit surprised it took him a couple of runs to break through up here, but he won very well at Ipswich and Jeff (Lloyd) was very keen to stick with him on Sunday – which is always a good sign.”
Lloyd, who combined with Dunn to win two features at Doomben last Saturday aboard Care To Think and Don’tbabylon will also partner Wallander, the cleverly-named first-starter Mother To Race Her (race one), Viceman (race four), Major Luck (race six), Fear Factor (race eight) and Lauderdale, who resumes in the final race.