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Rocknavar blossoms for ATC Australian Oaks

Australian Oaks bolter Rocknavar is a better chance than her odds suggest, according to her stable.

Improving filly Rocknavar has thrived in Sydney after last week’s unlucky run and trainer Matt Dunn is growing in confidence he and jockey Jason Collett can land their first Group One wins.

Rocknavar came from last to be eighth, beaten about two lengths in the Adrian Knox Stakes at Randwick last Saturday.

She received several checks in the final 200m and there is little doubt she should have finished a lot closer to the winner Aliferous.

Bookmakers have ignored the run and Rocknavar has been posted a $51 chance for the ATC Australian Oaks (2400m) – a quote that has Dunn bemused.

Dunn had considered pulling up stumps and returning to his Murwillumbah base with the Group One Queensland Oaks in mind.

“But she has done so well we have elected to keep her in Sydney,” Dunn said.

“We weighed her and she has actually put on two kilos since last Saturday. She is a tough thing and just keeps improving.”

Dunn said the further the races went the better Rocknavar would get.

“She can run some very good sectional times and our main worry is again drawing a bad barrier in 15.”

“We wouldn’t ride her forward anyway but it would be nice to be midfield with cover rather than back last.”

Dunn said Aliferous had been back with Rocknavar in the Adrian Knox but got up along the fence.

“I think it is fair to say if we go with her we finish together. But it is what it is and it must be our turn for some luck.

“We have had no luck in big races of late but if you keep turning up you can only hope one day things will change.”

Dunn has had nearly 700 winners since returning to training seven years ago while Collett has ridden nearly 900 winners but neither has broken the Group One duck.

“I was surprised Jason had not ridden a Group One winner as he is one of the best around. Maybe we can get our first Group One together,” Dunn said.

Win, lose or draw on Saturday Dunn is still looking at the Queensland Oaks next month for Rocknavar.

The filly, who cost $300,000 as a yearling, is by top sire Fastnet Rock and her dam’s pedigree is littered with stakes performers.

“Obviously she is already a valuable broodmare prospect but to get black-type for her would seal it,” Dunn said.

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