Local trainers will be doing their best to stave off the attack of visiting stables looking to cash in as major feature races quickly approach, and Dar Lunn will be hoping Classy Rebel can keep up his good form in the 1120m John McKinnon Memorial Cup Sprint Prelude.
The seven-year-old has been in career best form this preparation, winning five times from eight starts, quickly earning a reputation as one of the best sprinters in country NSW.
The former Victorian kicked off his golden running, winning a meagre 1100m Benchmark 45 Handicap at Binnaway before romping in at Wellington and then winning the Gulgong Cup by a massive 7.86 lengths.
Since then, the Rebel Raider gelding has stepped up in class, finishing a good fifth behind Attila in the time-honoured Coonamble Cannonball, winning a Benchmark 66 at Warren before his most recent victory at Dubbo, when boulting in for a 2.34 length victory in a tough little Benchmark 74 Handicap.
Lunn made it no secret that he was setting Classy Rebel for the $50,000 Flying Handicap next month, the second feature race on Dubbo Cup program.
“He has done a good job this preparation,” Lunn said.
“It depends on how he pulls up on Sunday, but the way he is going, we will probably head to the Flying Handicap on Cup day.
Despite being eight runs into his current campaign, Lunn said the 37-start veteran was going as good as he could be at this time of year.
“He has been running well and his run at Coonamble against some good horses was really good,” Lunn said.
“This time in, he has had eight runs in for five wins and a second and this will be his ninth run.
“He is as bright as he has ever been and I think he is as good as he was before he won last start; he feels good, works good, looks magnificent and he is not showing any signs of slowing down at all.”
Classy Rebel’s rise through the country racing ranks has been well-documented, and while he is the short-price $1.75 favourite to win his sixth race this preparation, Lunn was paying full respect to his opposition.
“It does look a good race, but I think they will be more frightened of me than I am of them but there are a couple to watch out for,” Lunn said.
“That horses of Cavanough’s (Dubai Tycoon) was racing well in Brisbane before he ran second in the Bengalla Cup and Bryon Dixon also has a hose that was racing in Queensland, and both look pretty good.”
Home track advantage will count for a lot on Sunday and Lunn admitted it was nice to be getting ready to race for better prizemoney at Dubbo.
“I only have to walk across the car park, and we are there; he goes good on the track, so it works out well,” Lunn said.
“It is good to have a bit of money on our doorstep, plus you don’t have to travel three or four hours to get there and back.”
In an interesting statistic, since Classy Rebel’s win in the Gulgong Cup back in June, Clayton Gallagher hasn’t lost on the talented galloper, helping him to wins at Warren and Dubbo, and Lunn said it was good to see him back on board his sprinter as the pair chase a quartet of wins.
“Clayton has had three wins on him from only three rides,” Lunn said.
“I used to be a jockey and I know how good it is when you can find a jockey that goes good on a horse, so you just try and keep them on.”
In another race that will no doubt garner plenty of attention from punters and racing fans alike, the John Nestor Memorial Dubbo Cup Prelude over 1420m attracted a full field of 12 runners and four emergencies.
Brett Cavanough has the top weight and well-fancied $2,90 favourite, Eiger, and Madeline Owen will jump on board for a three-kilogram claim, meaning the winner of five races will only carry 56kg.
The in-form dubbo specialist, Wishfilly, will also be thereabouts in the betting for Michael Lunn and apprentice hoop Casey Waddell.
A runner of interest is second favourite, Heza Gentleman, with Mitch and Desiree Kearney trekking out west with the Hawkesbury galloper.
The noted on-pace runner is a last-start Randwick placegetter, he loves some give in the ground and he will inject some speed into the event with Winona Costin on board.
Gates will open at 11am and patrons can witness trainers compete for a myriad of trophies named after past members who have gone above and beyond to make the Dubbo Turf Club what it is today.