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Aaron Dunn looking for some love in Protostar

5 July 2024

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By Adam Hamilton

Horsham trainer Aaron Dunn hopes a trip to Queensland later this month is just the first of some exciting travels in coming months.

Dunn is taking his exciting two-year-old Forty Love to Brisbane for two races, including the inaugural $500,000 Ladbrokes Protostar at Albion Park on July 27.

He will have a lead-up run the week before in the $52,000 Group 3 Wayne Wilson Paleface Adios Pace at the same track.

At the same time, the best horse Dunn’s ever owned and/or trained, Bondi Lockdown, is just weeks away from starting the next phase of his career in North America.

If everything goes well, Dunn hopes to head to the US himself to watch Bondi Lockdown, who won 17 races and almost $470,000 in Australia, tackle the US Breeders Crown final in October.

“They tell he’s settled in well and will be racing over there by mid-August,” Dunn said. “He’s paid-up for the Breeders Crown and that’s the dream, to be in that. I’d love to sneak over and see that race, if he makes it.

“He’d done a great job in Australia and Luke (McCarthy) said he was sending a few across and recommended Bondi Lockdown go with them. It seemed the right time.”

Just as Dunn was excited about Bondi Lockdown from day one, it was the same with Forty Love.

“I reckon I’d only fast worked him once, but loved him and then Brad (Steele) rang me from Albion Park telling me about the new slot race for two-year-olds, the Protostar,” Dunn said.

“I thought so much of this guy, so I bought my own slot in the race to back him in.”

Forty Love (Photo: Stuart McCormick).

Forty Love certainly hasn’t let Dunn down with five starts netting three wins, a second and a third.

“And both his beaten runs have been terrific,” he said. “I know it’s going to be a really strong race, but if we get a decent draw, I’m sure he’ll be very competitive,” he said.

Forty Love won the Sapling Stakes at Melton on May 25 and has only raced once since for a fighting second to Always Hot at Shepparton in a brilliant 1mun53.2sec mile rate for 1690m on June 14.

“I thought he went huge. The winner is obviously very good, but we covered 18m extra ground than him and only got beaten nine metres,” he said.

“I’ve decided to take him up for the lead-up race the week before, so I’ll float him up on Monday week.”

Dunn will use Saturday night’s Melton meeting to decide if he takes stablemate Little Louie along for the Brisbane trip with Forty Love.

“I’m leaning that way,” he said. “Little Louie trialled well at Melton on Monday night (second to last season’s Victoria Derby winner Petracca) and it looks a good race for him first-up this weekend.”

Dunn also has Hot Deal from barrier seven in race three at Melton on Saturday night.

“I can’t believe his luck with draws. He finally gets into a race with a random barrier draw and lands the outside (front row, gate seven). It makes it so hard from there, but at least it's 2240m and not a sprint race,” he said.

Forty Love is one of four Victorians from the eight confirmed runners in the 10-horse Protostar field.

The others are Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s pair The Highlight Reel and Cigano, along with Damien Burns’ Hesitate.