Dwayne Dunn is pinning his Victoria Derby hopes on a maiden, a week after another three-year-old which hadn’t won a race denied him in the $3 million Cox Plate.
Dunn came agonisingly close to Cox Plate success when Happy Trails went within a photo of running down the 20-1 chance Shamus Award.
He rides the Mike Moroney-trained Famechon in Saturday’s $1.5 million Victoria Derby and has been buoyed by an impressive track gallop in the lead-up to the staying classic.
Famechon didn’t live up to expectations last start in the Norman Robinson Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield but had appeared on track for the Derby when he finished strongly for third to Polanski in the Listed UCI Stakes (1800m)
“He disappointed us at Caulfield. We expected a lot more of him there,” Dunn said.
“I think he jarred up on the track and seems like he wants a bit more cut in the ground.
“I was really impressed with his work on Tuesday morning so if he brings that to the races he’ll be competitive.
“He’s drawn really well which is another bonus.”
Dunn said Famechon had shown enough talent to think he could win a Derby despite having not won a race in six starts.
“He’s probably run out of his depth when he could have run in maidens, but I think he’s shown them more than enough ability to warrant going for a race like that for sure,” Dunn said.
The last maiden to win the Victoria Derby was Redding in 1992.
Famechon and his John Sadler-trained rival Pinstripe Lane were both part-owned by the late Andrew Ramsden. A passionate racing man and former VRC chairman, Ramsden died two weeks ago having never won the Derby.
Sydney three-year-old Savvy Nature and Complacent occupy the top lines of betting for the Derby and Dunn admits they will prove hard to beat.
But he’s convinced Famechon can run out the 2500m which is one thing in his favour.
“They (Sydney horses) look like they’ve got the wood on the Melbourne horses for sure,” Dunn said.
“The distance is going to sort a lot out though.
“But often horses that don’t stay, their class rises to the top so you’ve always got to respect them.”
Moroney has won the Victoria Derby twice with Second Coming in 1997 and Monaco Consul in 2009.