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Racing NSW rule on Dunn’s country status

Matthew Dunn will have a final chance to snare another Highway Handicap in Sydney but his horses will be ineligible to feature in the Kosciuszko.

The Murwillumbah-based trainer has maintained a small team in Sydney during the coronavirus pandemic after biosecurity processes implemented in Queensland prevented him travelling his team to Brisbane.

However, with Queensland’s restrictions easing, Racing NSW has informed Dunn he must forgo his Sydney base by July 10 if he wants to maintain his status as a country trainer.

Dunn has indicated he accepts Racing NSW’s position and will be maintaining a Sydney presence.

“Racing NSW has made a decision to exclude us from country races for the time being and that’s something we respect,” Dunn told Sky Racing radio.

Rothenburg, who lines up at Rosehill on Saturday, will be his last Highway Handicap runner in the short term.

The horse is permitted to start because he was already an acceptor for the race and will be travelling to Sydney from Dunn’s country stable.

Dunn recently sent several horses he regards as metropolitan grade to Sydney but the majority have only been given barrier trials and have not raced.

He feels it would be unfair to his owners to pack up now without giving those horses a shot at Sydney prize money.

“I can’t expect my owners to fork out $1000 in travel costs and not even have a run in Sydney,” Dunn said.

The decision to keep a team in the city will mean Dunn is not able to have a runner in the Kosciuszko this year.

While he has already ruled out Snitz, who has been spelled, stablemate and Country Championships winner Gracie Belle and rising three-year-old Lady Banff are prominent in early Kosciuszko markets.

However, Racing NSW chief steward Marc van Gestel said the Kosciuszko rules stipulated that horses must be in a country stable by July 1 to qualify.

“This year, he (Dunn) won’t be eligible,” van Gestel said.

“The Country Championships cut-off is the first of October so that might be different.”

Van Gestel indicated the rules around Highway Handicaps meant Dunn’s horses would not be re-eligible for the weekly fixtures for another 12 months.

Rothenburg will be one of three Rosehill runners for Dunn on Saturday, along with Lady Banff in the Darley 2YO Handicap (1100m) and Cubix in the Bowerman’s Commercial Furniture Handicap (1500m).

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