When Perfect Dare attempts to clean up the Country Championships final at Randwick, trainer Matthew Dunn can take a short break from mopping the flood waters that have inundated his stables at Murwillumbah.
Dunn had barely arrived in Sydney for Saturday’s $400,000 decider over 1400m before turning tail for the NSW-Queensland border to witness the damage wrought by an overflowing Tweed River, a legacy of tropical cyclone Debbie.
“We’ve got water in the stables,. It’s a bloody nightmare,” Dunn said while stuck in traffic near Tweed Heads on Friday.
“No one’s going to die and the horses aren’t going to be washed away but the water came up through all the boxes and through the house.”
Dunn arrived in Sydney on Thursday but once the extent of the flooding became apparent he left his wife Keira to oversee the final stages of the four-year-old’s lead-up..
On a positive note for Dunn, Perfect Dare was rated the $3.30 favourite with Sportsbet to lead home the 16-strong field, an outcome that took on even more significance once staff told him about the rising waters.
“It’s not the end of the world, but we’ll need Perfect Dare to win to pay for it (damage),” he said.
The Dunns’ property, handily located across the road from the Tweed River Jockey Club, was last affected by flooding five years ago although their house was spared on that occasion.
“You think about moving when this happens and forget about it quickly,” he said.
“The benefits of being here far surpass a flood every five or six years.”
Perfect Dare qualified for the final at Grafton on February 13 in course record-time and has not raced since, a deliberate ploy by Dunn.
“He’s had a big space between races on purpose,” Dunn said.
“He doesn’t really need racing. He had a jump-out over 1000 metres in a barrier trial (on February 28) to keep him ticking over.
“He galloped on Wednesday and worked great. He’s really bright and well. He’s as fit as I can have him.”
Dunn, who has 80 horses stabled at Murwillumbah, said his only concern was the heavy track at Randwick, a surface Perfect Dare has so far been shielded from in his 18-race career.
“I think he’s probably the best horse in the race but I’ve never had him on a heavy track because I didn’t think he could handle it,” he said.