Dunn has Grove in $2m the Kosciuszko groove

Few horses have overcome as many setbacks as Kosciuszko contender Derry Grove, but trainer Matthew Dunn finally has him in a good space heading into his most important challenge yet.

The five-year-old will line up in Saturday’s $2 million The Kosciuszko (1200m) looking to continue an undefeated campaign run, which kicked off at Ipswich in July before back-to-back Highway Handicap wins, the first by more than four lengths and the second when he lumped 61kg and overcame a wide passage.

While it has been a season of celebration for connections, the road hasn’t always been easy.

A debut winner at Warwick Farm at three, Derry Grove showed ability from the outset, but Dunn has needed a combination of patience, trust and time for the horse to realise his potential.

“He won his first start at Warwick Farm coming from last at the hundred (metres), so it’s always been there, it has just been a matter of extracting it,” Dunn said of Derry Grove’s talent.

“He’s had lots of problems too.

“He’s had two fibula stress fractures, he’s had a foot abscess that turned into an infected pedal bone and had to have surgery, he had to have knee surgery that got infected three times.

“You name it, he’s had it.”

Dunn has also been spacing Derry Grove’s runs and the horse has been thriving on it.

With no reason to deviate from that formula, the gelding goes into The Kosciuszko fresh, and while Dunn would have liked a rain-affected track it will be offset by a good draw in barrier six and the booking of Nash Rawiller, who is unbeaten in three rides on the horse.

Trainer and jockey combined to win the $1.5 million Alan Brown Stakes (1400m) with Cepheus at Rosehill last weekend and Dunn is quietly confident Derry Grove can deliver them an even bigger payday.

“He’s in a really good spot so hopefully he can step up,” Dunn said.

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