Dean Mirfin and Island Press out to impress in Narromine Cup

Bathurst trainer Dean Mirfin will set Island Press for Sunday’s $40,000 Narromine Gold Cup. Photo: Racing Photography.

The $40,000 Narromine Gold Cup will be run and won on Sunday and Dean Mirfin will present race favourite Island Press ($3.10) in the 1600m Open Handicap.

The Bathurst galloper boasts a tidy record of 14 starts for four wins and one placing, and most recently produced a good effort to win the 1420m Dubbo Cup Prelude back on August 7.  

Mirfin said he went to Dubbo confident Island Press was ready to win, hinting his four-year-old had come on strongly after finishing third over 1800m at Bathurst the start prior.

“Yeah, we thought he could win that day,” Mirfin said. 

“I ran him in an 1800m race 10 days earlier at Bathurst, and I came to the conclusion he couldn’t run that distance out.

“I always thought he was a seven or eight-furlong horse, but the race at Bathurst looked irresistible to run in, and I thought he might be able to stretch out and get the distance, but it wasn’t to be that day, and he ran into a strong race.  

“It worked out well though, because after that run he peaked and come on well, and was looking like a million dollars going to Dubbo.”

While Island Press is guaranteed a start in the Dubbo Cup after his Prelude victory, Mirfin explained that the Press Statement gelding would likely miss the $100,000 race, with connections eyeing the 2023 Country Championships. 

“I know he is exempt from the ballot in the Dubbo Cup, but that is a very unlikely target, as we want to give the horse a spell and bring him back for the Country Champs,” Mirfin said. 

“I thought I would give him one more run and give him a break, so he will go to Narromine, provided the meeting goes ahead, and if not, he is nominated for a race in Sydney next week or Newcastle on the Saturday.”

With bigger and better things in mind, Mirfin was still focused on the job at hand, and he believes Island Press deserves to enter Sunday’s Narromine Cup as favourite.

“I am confident he will run up to the same standard as he did at Dubbo, and the horse is in peak order and ready to go again,” Mirfin said. 

In-form hoop Anna Roper will take the ride, and after helping Island Press to victory at Dubbo last time out, Mirfin is confident the two-kilogram claiming apprentice can get the job done again. 

“I have a good opinion of Anna. She is very intelligent and very pleasant, and she is going great at the moment,” Mirfin said. 

“She is winning the NSW jockey’s premiership, so she has started her career with a bang. 

“The thing I like about her is that she is still in that learning phase of her career, but horses are racing well for her, and if one or two things go against her, she still has the ability to get the best out of them, which makes her very promising.”

Roper and Island Press won’t have it all their own way on Sunday, with the 2023 Narromine Cup attracting a good field of 11 runners, including 2022 winner, Wild Rocket

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