Coffs Harbour trainer Brett Dodson is keen to avenge Desert Bunny’s unlucky defeat in last year’s $40,000 Lismore Cup.
The then six-year-old gelding played up in the barriers, missed the start and wound up third to Chilled and Royal Reign in the 2100m feature.
On Thursday, Dodson hopes Desert Bunny can hop into gear quickly and run up to stable expectations.
“Matthew Bennett knows the horse a lot better now, knows all his quirks,” Dodson said.
“He rides the horse work all the time.
“They’ve clicked together. Matt loves him.
“After missing the kick last year, he had to circle the field, ended up running third. It was a huge run.
“Hopefully, that doesn’t happen again and everything goes according to plan.
“His form, the track, distance, everything’s perfect.”
The seven-year-old has been in solid form recently, winning at Grafton (2108m) in July and Casino (1900m) three starts back on August 14.
Last time out Desert Bunny surprised even Dodson with an excellent length second to Joe Blow in the 1600m Ballina Cup on September 8.
“I thought the 1600 metres would be too short for him. He ran a great race, better than I expected,” Dodson said.
“His work before Ballina was good.
“It’s been exactly the same leading into Lismore but he’s probably in better condition and the step up in distance will suit him.
“He’s pleased me.”
Like a lot of ageing geldings Desert Bunny, with 31 starts under his belt, has a few niggling wear and tear injuries but Dodson’s astute management has overcome them.
“He’s had a fair few runs this preparation and feeling a few things but generally he’s been pretty good,” Dodson said.
“He’s an easy horse to do anything with.
“I’m pleased where he’s at. He’s done good.
“It looks a pretty even field Thursday. His weight (57kg) is okay and he’s drawn good (five).
“Given luck in running he’s going to be pretty hard to beat.”