Dunkel to rebound in Roy Higgins

A Melbourne Cup start is up for grabs to the winner of The Roy Higgins at Flemington.

DUNKEL. Picture: Racing Photos

Trainer Patrick Payne is a realist when it comes to his horses and says it is time for Dunkel to take the step up to the big league. 

A dual Derby winner as a three-year-old, Payne has chosen the stayer's races wisely, to the point when the gelding is an eight-time winner from 12 starts with two runner-up finishes thrown in for good measure. 

A Melbourne Cup start is on offer on Saturday when Dunkel runs in the Listed The Roy Higgins (2600m) at Flemington

The Roy Higgins is one of four staying races run at Flemington that offers a 'win and you're in' into the Melbourne Cup in November. 

Dunkel has been unplaced just twice in his career, the most recent being when sixth in the Listed Pakenham Cup (2500m) on March 15. 

Using a sports analogy, Payne said that race was like Dunkel stepping up from the juniors to playing in the seniors. 

"The pressure was on in that race," Payne told RSN. 

"He's been pretty much protected through his career running in all the easiest possible races and maybe he's been 'babied' a bit. 

"It was a tough run race, and hopefully that will hold him in good stead for the future." 

Payne said Dunkel had come through that contest well and hopefully it will toughen him up for what lies ahead. 

He said the biggest thing with Dunkel was being able to maintain a constant gallop, for longer. 

"He's got quite good stamina but he's actually a slow horse, he can't sprint," Payne said. 

"He will stay all day, if he can get comfortable. 

"If he's too close to his top for too long, he can't maintain a gallop, but I think if he gets comfortable on the weekend there will be no problem." 

Dunkel needs to make up six lengths on Glentaneous who finished second in the Pakenham Cup, but Payne pointed out that his stayer had beaten that gelding home at his previous appearance. 

"Glentaneous is a nice horse and will be suited by the 2600 metres at Flemington, but from our point of view there is nothing wrong with Dunkel going into this race," Payne said.