Sovereign Nation at his best for return

Mark Oberhardt
Trainer Matt Dunn expects stakes winner Sovereign Nation to perform well fresh at Eagle Farm

Murwillumbah trainer Matt Dunn will be the most surprised person at Eagle Farm if Sovereign Nation does not perform well.

Sovereign Nation will be trying to break a 22-month winning drought in the Queensland Chinese Jockey Club Open (1200m) on Saturday.

The gelding has been with Dunn for just over a year and has raced well without success.

It will be Sovereign Nation's first start since finishing an unlucky fourth in an Eagle Farm Open Handicap in August.

Dunn has an air of confidence about Sovereign Nation's chances at Eagle Farm.

"He is going very well and in fact it is the best he has been with me since coming from the south," Dunn said.

"His trials have been extra good and in his latest he beat some of his main rivals on Saturday.

"I would be very disappointed if he doesn't run a big race. I suppose it is 100 metres short of what would be ideal but there should be pace and he will be running home hard."

Dunn tried to book a claiming apprentice for Sovereign Nation on Saturday but his preferred choices were not available.

"He has plenty of weight but his rating is well above the rest of the field," he said.

"Jim Orman will ride him and if you look he has a good record on topweights."

Dunn is looking at a 1400m-race at Eagle Farm a fortnight after Saturday as a follow-up target for Sovereign Nation.

The seven-year-old was formerly trained by Lindsay Park in Victoria where he was once considered a future Group One star and a stud prospect.

But his wayward habits prompted connections to have him gelded two seasons ago.

In Victoria, Sovereign Nation won the Group Two Stutt Stakes and was fourth in the Group One Caulfield Guineas won by Press Statement.

He also finished second to Tosen Stardom in the Group One Toorak Handicap and fourth in the Group One Sir Rupert Clarke.

His last win was in the Listed VRC Stakes at Flemington in March 2018.

When his original trainers David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig decided he needed a change of scenery, Sovereign Nation was sent to Dunn.

"Like all horses who get back in their races he needs some luck. But with a bit of luck on Saturday watch out late for him," Dunn said.