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Dunn's Highway To The Australian Derby

By Julieanne Horsman

It’s a long trip from Murwillumbah down to Sydney and Matthew Dunn usually gives his horses a few starts close to home before sending them out in a TAB Highway race.

But he will take a calculated chance with Care To Think this Saturday when he lines up in the Class 2 TAB Highway Handicap (1200m) at Royal Randwick after just one race.

Care To Think made an eye-catching debut in a 1200m Maiden at the Gold Coast on New Year’s Eve. He flashed home from a tricky midfield spot to snatch victory from stablemate Dia De Reyes.

“His first start was really impressive and there’s no reason why he can’t do it again,” Dunn said.

“I am confident he will become one of the better horses in my stable within a preparation.”

Care To Think has his work cut out for him on Saturday though. With five last start winners and another five placegetters it’s a stronger than usual Highway field but Dunn still rates his horse’s chance as high.

“He galloped with one of my other horses Hanwritten the other day and he was equally as good,” Dunn said.

“Hanwritten has a record of four wins and two placings from nine starts including a 1.5L win in a Saturday Benchmark 75 race over 1200m at Doomben.

“Care To Think’s barrier is a little bit awkward but we get in well at the weights and have a good jockey (Tim Clark) on board.”

The $16,000 gelding by So You Think from Slippery Madam was slow to mature and didn’t have his first start until the middle of his three-year-old-season but Dunn says what he lacks in experience, he makes up in ability.

“Obviously he is up against older horses with more practice but I believe he is the best horse in the race,” Dunn said.

“He came down to Sydney on Wednesday and the trip should help him settle and get his head around what racing is all about.”

So high is Dunn’s opinion of Care To Think he has nominated him for the $2 million Group 1 Australian Derby to be run at Royal Randwick in 1 April.

“From the start of this preparation he has being doing things only special horses do,” he said.

“If he keeps improving at this rate I think he could be ready by the time the Derby rolls around.

“The nominations have to be in early so it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

It’s been a huge week for Dunn who celebrated the most significant win of his career last Saturday.

Madotti held off a surging In His Stride to claim victory and $600,000 prizemoney in the Magic Millions QTIS Open (1300m) on the Gold Coast.

“It was a great feeling but you soon come crashing back to earth when you have to get up for work the next morning,” Dunn said.

“There are another 80 horses that need my attention so you can never celebrate too hard.”

View the fields, form and race replays for Royal Randwick here.

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