Its five of the best for J R!
While it was meant to be the influx of southern raiders that would dominate the night, instead it was our own "JR" Johnny Dunn who did his "grab and run" with a lot of the major spoils.
On the 12 race card, John had 8 drives, including 4 for the Robert Dunn stable. This laid back horseman, who has the most amazing work ethic, would never have envisaged that by the end of the night he would have his first 5 win bag on a programme, with a 2nd, 3rd and 6th from his remaining three drives!
John's first drive for the night was stable runner Return To Sender in Race 2. While he was dropping back in class after contesting the Sires Stakes final on Cup Day, his horror draw of 12 looked set to ruin his chances. Instead, John delivered a superb drive which saw him land the 1-1 sit early and then for the last lap of the race, before getting up in a driving finish to knock off favourite Medley Moose, at odds of 15-1. Owned by Ian Dobson, Return To Sender is a 3yr old Mach Three colt out of his champion mare Mainland Banner and appears to have come back a much stronger horse this time in.
Win one for the night on Return To Sender
John's second win on the night came in Race 4 with the impressive 4yr old Christian Cullen entire Franco Nelson. Often accused in some quarters as a horse that doesn't try that hard at the end of his races, John took luck out of the equation with this drive. From a wide draw he speared to the lead and was left alone to dictate terms. He was always travelling like the best horse in the race and when John cut him loose on the turn, it was game over. With final sectionals of 56.6 and 27.3, the chasers were never going to get close. The "real" Franco Nelson has now stood up and made a statement and owners the Mckays' look in for a lot of fun.
Franco Nelson shows his class and gives John win number 2 for the night.
John's third drive and third win for the night was on last season's champion 2yr old filly Venus Serena. After spearing to the lead early in one of the Group 2 features on the night - The Peter Breckon Memorial Ladyship Stakes - John conceded the lead a lap out to an aggressively driven Angelina Jolie. That runner managed to keep the momentum rolling into the home straight, where it appeared for a time that the outside swoopers were going to be the major players. However, as champions are prone to do, Venus Serena found another gear and drove through just short of the line to head classy northern filly Lincolns Megastar. As a 3yr old she has lost none of her high speed and her toughness is there for all to see. It will now be all roads heading towards the Group One Alabar fillies final on the course on New Year's eve.
Venus Serena back and starring at three - gives John 3 for the night
With Dexter in Western Australia driving Bit Of A Legend in the Golden Nuggets final, John picked up a catch drive for the Cran Dalgety stable on Regulus, one of last seasons top 2yr olds. This Mach Three 3yr old has been below his best in general this camapign but had a good draw (2), from which to pozzie up behind pacemaker and 2nd favourite Maxim. The Barry Purdon trained Maxim got away with cheap sectionals throughout and the race turned out in a dash over the last 800m. When Te Kawau and Sky Major joined Maxim on the turn Regulus appeared flatfooted. However, according to John, "he was just bit rough on the bend. I had to nurse him and then once back to a straight line he really let down. I thought it was a top run really with some nice ones in there." This was the 4th win from 15 starts for the horse and he may be on his way back after some below par efforts of late.
The Cran Dalgety trained Regulus makes it 4 out of 4 for John.
Placings followed in Races 8 - Whitney (2nd), Race 9 Pemberton Shard (3rd) and then Hurricane Bromac produced a solid run for 6th in Race 10 the Franklin Cup behind a very impressive Easy On The Eye.
John's final winning drive for the night was Race 12 with Elios. Drawn well, he was launched out of the gate, but was quickly joined in the race for the lead by the previously unbeaten Christian Cullen colt Locharburn. The two locked horns for the first 600m, neither prepared to yield in a little heard of lead time of 39.7 for the first 600m. From there Locharburn continued to run them along in front, before John launched Elios at the 400m, quickly mastering Locharburn and going clear at the 200m. Once back in a straight line Locharburn took good ground out of Elios in the run to the line but he managed to hold on, a convincing 1 1/4 length winner. "I was stoked with my fella," said John, "but how good is that colt of Kev's (Chapman)!"
Its 5 for John as Elios wins the last of the night
All in all this was a magic night for John and big ups to a guy who often flies under the radar when the plaudits are being handed out!
Posted: Sat 07 Dec 2013