Dunkel gets off the canvas for Flemington win

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All eyes were on at on Saturday, and the hottest favourite of the day duly delivered – but not without giving his supporters some nervous moments along the way.

The -bred son of had made a big impression with two smart wins and a second from the first three starts of his career, and he carried favouritism into Saturday's Benchmark 70 test.

Dunkel was slow to leave the starting gates and settled near the back of the field for most of the race, then found himself blocked in traffic early in the Flemington straight.

By the time found a way into clear air, Dunkel still had half a dozen lengths to make up and was rapidly running out of time to do it.

But the Patrick Payne-trained three-year-old lengthened stride stylishly in the final 200m and ran down the front-running Soul Choice, sailing past to score by half a length.

“Even with his big weight (61kg), I knew he had a better turn of foot than most in the race, and if a slight gap came in the straight, I'd be able to take it,” Coffey said.

“That's what happened in the end.

“He got a little bump on the way through and lost a bit of momentum, but I didn't fully put him under pressure. I just let him regain his confidence and stride, and he got the job done.

“It would have looked like a tough watch, but he was pretty soft in the last 50m.

“He's a lovely horse – we've just got to get him doing things right. He's obviously got very nice ability, and he's a stayer that's on the rise. But he's just doing a few little things that make him hard to watch.

“Today was no different to his win at Sandown last start. He missed the start, was a tad disinterested, and then at about the 600m he gains a bit of motivation.

“He's a horse that's going the right way, and when he does work out what's happening, he's going to be even better.

“It's how well he pulled up. He's very clean-winded. Paddy (Payne) and his team have done a great job.

Dunkel was bred by 's Pencarrow Thoroughbreds Ltd and is out of the Cape Cross mare Kudamm. A four-time winner and a Listed placegetter in the South Island (1600m), Kudamm is the dam of five winners from five foals to race.

Dunkel was a $40,000 purchase from Book 1 of 2021 as a yearling, then returned to the sale ring later that year for the Ready to Run Sale, where secured him for $100,000.

Dunkel's four-start career has now produced three wins, a second and $229,500 in stakes.

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