Dwayne Dunn goes from one extreme to the other in the final two Group One races of the Melbourne Cup carnival.
He rides odds-on favourite Chautauqua in the Darley Classic while in the Emirates Stakes he partners the $51 outsider Messene at Flemington on Saturday.
Both are prepared by the Hawkes family of John, Wayne and Michael who do date haven’t troubled the scorers at the Flemington carnival.
Chautauqua is set to change that for the training partners while providing Dunn with another winner to add to the four he has already ridden.
And if conditions suit Messene, then the quote of $51 may be looking generous.
“He’s such a big-striding horse,” Dunn said.
“He’s not as effective on a slow track, so if the track dries it helps his chances.”
A winner at Sandown as a younger horse, Messene wasn’t seen at his best when tackling Group One company in Melbourne last spring.
After a long lay-off he returned in August and given a steady build-up to spring engagements in Sydney, culminating with a fourth to Winx in the Epsom Handicap.
He ventured to Melbourne where he lined up over 1400m at Flemington last Saturday, but was thwarted by a wet track and racing deep.
“His last couple of Sydney runs had been pretty good before coming down and he was fair the other day,” Dunn said.
“He needs to improve off that, but if he brings his `A game’, he can be competitive.”
Dunn said the Emirates Stakes had undergone a class shift in recent years with this year’s race having more depth.
Magic Artist and Arod represent European stables while Bow Creek, a newcomer to the John O’Shea stable from his Godolphin counterpart Charlie Appleby, have added strength to the race.
“The Emirates was always a second tier sort of race at the back-end of the carnival but now people are aiming for it,” Dunn said.
“It’s getting a lot more recognition.
“It was a handicappers’ race and lightweights had a good chance in it, but it’s a solid race now and worthy of being on the radar.”
Dunn said he’s looking forward to getting back aboard Chautauqua and thinks he’s improved since his last start Moonee Valley win where Tommy Berry had the mount.
“He’s up there with the best I’ve ridden and I don’t think we’ve seen the ceiling yet with more improvement to come off this,” he said.
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au