All eyes are on next month’s Big Dance for in-form galloper Cepheus but trainer Matthew Dunn sees no reason why can’t have a decent pay-day on the way in Saturday’s $1.5m Alan Brown Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill.
The seven-year-old won the South Grafton Cup in July to secure his eligibility for the $3 million Big Dance and Dunn said running in the Alan Brown keeps a nice two week progression from race to race until the November 7 grand final.
Cepheus won the Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m) two weeks ago and Dunn elected not to run in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap, because he didn’t need to.
“The beauty is there’s so many races and you can pick and choose your way along,’’ he said.
“We could have backed up last week but chose not to because we had this race.
“If it hadn’t have been there we probably would have backed up so it gives you so many options.
“His goal always has been the Big Dance but these races along the way, he’s so competitive in them.
“He’s going two weeks, two weeks then two weeks and three days so he doesn’t need huge amounts of work now.”
Dunn said he can’t see any negatives for Cepheus in the Alan Brown, he’s drawn barrier two for Nash Rawiller and is unbeaten at Rosehill and he should get his preferred dry ground.
He was impressed with how Cepheus, $5.50 with TAB on Thursday, put the Shannon away last start and the prospect of a fast run race pleases him.
“It was really strong, he got himself to the front and if they’d gone further he’d have won by further,’’ Dunn said.
“Maybe coming back 100m might help, Nash commented he wanted to overdo things a little bit last start so that tiny bit of extra tempo back to 1400m might help if anything.
“He needs a firm deck, he’d had a couple of starts for us on chopped out ground and he went awful.
“His form on top of the ground is so much better than anything that’s rain affected.
“He’s a chance again this week. He’s going really well, we gave him an easy time after we qualified him for the Big Dance and once he gets fit he’s pretty simple.”
Two years ago Cepheus ran third behind Think It Over in the Hill Stakes (2000m) but missed the best part of 18 months with a tendon injury after he stretched to 2400m in the Tattersalls Cup.
But, aside from a heavy track failure in the Doncaster, he’s rarely missed a place.
Dunn said he’ll head to the Filante Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on October 21 then the Big Dance on November 7.
Meanwhile, Derry Grove completes his preparation for Saturday week’s $2 million The Kosciuszko (1200m) over the weekend and Dunn is rapt with how his emerging galloper is progressing.
The flashy galloper, who races with a distinctive brow band, has won successive Highways at Randwick in dominant fashion to put himself in the Kosciuszko picture.
“He’ll have his last hit-out on Saturday and head down Wednesday night. If it could rain that week it’d be good,’’ Dunn said.
– Racing NSW