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Aaron Purcell admits he expected better from Derby hopeful Rellson when he returned from a spell but the trainer is looking forward to seeing the gelding step up in distance at Caulfield.

Rellson was the $1.70 favourite in a 1400m benchmark-64 at Pakenham on February 8 but could only manage to finish fourth after settling midfield in the field of 10.

He steps up to 1800m on Saturday against his fellow three-year-olds in the Group Two Autumn Classic at Caulfield with Purcell expecting an improved showing.

“He was disappointing first-up. I expected him to win,” Purcell said.

“I didn’t see any other races but a few people told me it was hard to make ground on the night and he has probably run like he’s looking for further.

“It was definitely disappointing at the time but in hindsight it probably wasn’t as bad as it probably looked.”

Purcell said they hope to get lightly raced Rellson to a Derby this preparation.

The gelding is nominated for the Group One Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick in April.

“He’s always worked like a good horse and we expect him to win a good race somewhere along the way,” Purcell said.

“He’s been gelded since the spring. He used to pull a bit hard but now he’s a bit more settled we’re probably going to get him out over a bit more ground.

“I think he’ll be at his best over a bit of ground.

“He’s up to 1800 on Saturday and then there’s the Alister Clark Stakes in a few weeks.

“We’ll probably get into that and we’ll get an idea if we’re on the mark or not.”

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