Matthew Dunn not worried about $3m Big Dance misstep

Matthew Dunn is confident Big Dance favourite Cepheus can overcome a minor setback in time for the $3 million Melbourne Cup Day feature at Randwick.

The in-form gelding was scratched from Saturday’s Filante Handicap (1600m) at Randwick after presenting with mild swelling in his near-fore fetlock three days earlier.

However, Dunn said he had been weighing up whether Cepheus needed another run and the hiccup had all but made the decision for him.

“Everything is fine, he just had a little setback,” Dunn said.

“I was in two minds about whether to run him (on Saturday) anyway and that just tipped me the other way.

“We x-rayed and scanned and did everything we needed to do. He has ticked every box so there’s no reason to stop. It was more precautionary than anything.”

Cepheus, who has not missed any work, will have a track gallop early in the week before heading to Rosehill for a barrier trial hitout on Friday.

Stewards confirmed he would undergo another thorough veterinary examination following the trial, but Dunn wasn’t expecting any further issue.

“He will trial on Friday and he’ll be sweet,” he said.

After missing all of 2022 with a career-threatening tendon injury, Cepheus has been nursed back to health by Dunn and finds himself in the form of his life this preparation.

Qualifying for the Big Dance with his South Grafton Cup victory in July, he was given a freshen-up and has strung together consecutive wins in black-type company at his past two starts, capturing the Shannon Stakes (1500m) last month and the inaugural $1.5 million Alan Brown Stakes (1400m).

He is a $4.50 favourite for the Big Dance in pre-nomination markets with Australian online bookies.

Dunn also reported Derry Grove had been sent for a short break after finishing midfield in the Kosciuszko and would be aimed towards Queensland in January.

“He’ll have a couple of weeks off and then go to the Magic Millions,” Dunn said.

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