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A softer surface and controlling the lead are the factors trainer Kim Waugh believes are key to Dylan’s Rojo to putting in an improved effort for his Melbourne Cup-winning owners.

Ralph Johns and his family race Dylan’s Rojo and also had a share in 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist.

Dylan’s Rojo was racing back then and went around at Hawkesbury two days after Protectionist cruised to victory in Australia’s greatest race.

Protectionist returned to Europe where he won a Group One race before his retirement this week while Dylan’s Rojo returns to metropolitan grade in Saturday’s Ashbury Handicap (1550m) at Canterbury.

Dylan’s Rojo ran fourth first-up at Rosehill on September 24 and second at Port Macquarie on October 7.

He was last of 12 runners at Taree on October 21, but trainer Waugh warns against reading too much into that performance.

“He got to the front and then one of the outsiders took off and took him on so the jockey let it go and just kept running,” Waugh said.

“It really sort of mucked the race up a little bit.

“He was just a little bit jarry pulling up. Not too bad but the whole combination of things were a bit costly for him.”

The natural front-runner is no wet-tracker but appreciates some give in the surface, Waugh said.

“He’s such a big heavy horse, it’s always nice when the sting is out of the track a little bit,” she said.

Chris Waller-trained Religify is odds-on to win the race after being narrowly defeated by Rock Forthe Ladies at Randwick on October 22, while Dylan’s Rojo is a $21 chance.

Rock Forthe Ladies was the beaten favourite in the greys’ race at Flemington on Thursday, while Religify was scratched from the Listed Ladies’ Day Cup at Hawkesbury on the same day, to be saved for Canterbury.

Hawkes Racing-trained God’s In Him is the $4.60 second favourite and top weight Red Excitement is at $8.

Waugh says Dylan’s Rojo gets the benefit of a significant weight drop to 54kg.

“I’ve been really pleased with him. His work’s been good this week so he’ll go well,” Waugh said.

Jay Ford, who has been aboard Dylan’s Rojo for more than a third of his 25 starts, will get back on him on Saturday from barrier four.

 
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