Dubbo trip delivers Winter Country Classic to Canberra trainer John Rolfe

Michael Heagney aboard the John Rolfe-trained Dubai Centre after their win in the Winter Country Classic Final at Dubbo on Sunday.

It was a successful hit and run mission for Canberra trainer John Rolfe at Dubbo on Sunday.

Travelling from the nation’s capital, Rolfe took two horses with him, and Dubai Centre came out and won the $32,000 Winter Country Classic final, while The Pres ran a big race in the 1410m Class Two Handicap to finish second. 

Dubai Centre ($4.60) did it the tough way in the 1300m Winter Country Classic final, with jockey Michael Heagney forced to sit three wide in the race.

Still, the four-year-old was too classy in the end when pulling away for a comfortable 2.23 lengths win from the Mary Moses-trained Just Four (Kody Nestor, $4.60), while in third and 2.47 lengths off the winner was the Gavin Groth-trained Foreign Brother (Matty Palmer, $8.50).

Rolfe said he travelled to Dubbo confident he had the horse to beat after Dubai Centre finished a strong second to Foreign Brother in the colts and gelding qualifier at Dubbo back on June 10.

“His run in the qualifier was quite good and we thought he would run a good race in the final,” Rolfe said. 

“To be honest, we thought he was a good thing in the heat, but he had the harder run and still ran really well to finish second. 

“Then he made the final, and off that run, we couldn’t knock back the prizemoney, so we had to go, and he ran a good race.”

Despite having only won the two races from 20 starts, Dubai Centre appears to have some upside, and Rolfe explained that the Pride of Dubai gelding, that is out of Queen’s Fashion, has all the makings to go onto bigger and better things. 

“1300m is not his distance; he will get out over 2000m, but we kept him fresh and had a crack,” Rolfe said. 

“When Danny (O’Brien) had him, he set him for the Derby and he ran second to Young Werther in a maiden, but then had a throat op (operation) and had one start and they sold him. 

“In his first prep with us, he was still getting over it (the throat operation), but he never ran a bad race for us, and in good class races too.

“Last prep, he had a virus, which is why he only had the three runs, but he has come back good and now he is completely over everything and is going great.”

Rolfe will now start to get the four-year-old over more ground, with a potential trip to town on the cards. 

“We are stepping him up over a mile next start; maybe at Albury,” Rolfe said. 

“It depends on how much they penalise him for Sunday’s win, but if we do that, we will then look to get him in a Highway, but the problem is that we are in Canberra, and he goes to the bottom of the ballot, so we will have to wait and see what happens.”

For the moment, Rolfe will soak up the good win, and he praised the Dubbo Turf Club for hosting a good meeting after what has been a wet and difficult period for the industry and country clubs. 

“Yesterday (Sunday) was good, Rolfe said. 

“In the heat, we drew (gate) one and you had to get to the outside fence, but yesterday we drew nine and it didn’t matter because the track was good and played pretty fair,” Rolfe said. 

“He went three wide, but he kicked good on the corner and handled it well.”

For full Dubbo results, readers can click here