Trainer Henry Dwyer expects a return to a conventional racetrack to be a positive for steeplechasing convert The Dominator.
The gelding scored a narrow win at his steeplechasing debut at Warrnambool earlier this month and immediately goes to Saturday’s Australian Steeplechase at Sandown, one of the feature races on the jumps calendar.
The Dominator charged away midrace before holding off a late bid from King Kamada, an opponent on Saturday.
“That’s him to a large extent but I think that first go over them will take the edge off him a bit,” Dwyer said.
“As he has more racing he’ll learn to settle a bit better.
“It was also his first time through the open paddocks so that probably didn’t help either.
“He did a good job to see them off and he meets the ones he raced against there better at the weights.”
Importantly for Dwyer is The Dominator, since switching to the bigger jumps, is treating those obstacles with more respect.
Dwyer said the gelding used to crash through his hurdles which ultimately ended in him taking a heavy fall at Pakenham last year.
The decision was made to switch The Dominator to steeplechasing, undergoing some early education before a spell.
“We took the view that we didn’t want to see him fall again so we schooled him up over fences,” Dwyer said.
“That got him going and we gave him a couple of schools this year and he’s been as good as gold.
“He may be going keenly, but his jumping has been faultless, touch wood, and hopefully that can continue.”
John Allen replaces Steve Pateman on The Dominator on Saturday who is on the minimum with 64kg.
Gold Medals, who won last year’s race carrying the minimum and has since won the Grand Annual Steeplechase at Warrnambool, rises to 69kg, the maximum topweight under the conditions.
Dwyer is hoping a tough campaign may count against Gold Medals.
“You’d have to think he wouldn’t be on the way up after being targetted at those races at Warrnambool whereas we’re on the way up,” Dwyer said.
“He’s a quality jumper and we’re yet to prove it, but we’ll see what happens.”