May the glorious month of January continue for the stable!
Rewind 14 days and the Robert Dunn stable are preparing for day one of the annual Nelson summer meeting. Well placed in the premiership - 2nd place with 36 wins, the feeling was that there should be "a few winners" over the 2 days. To tell Robert, the patriarch and eternal optimist that he would train 16 winners over 4 days of racing.........yeah rite!
The two days of Nelson were great - 8 wins highlighted by a feature race double for Donegal's Guest. Then onto day one of Marlborough. Early wins to new horses on the circuit - Cullect A Guinness and Light Up Boss were followed by a 3rd straight victory by Donegal's Guest. There was real confidence going into the day's feature, the Grp 2 Pelorus Classic. While for Franco Nelson and his connections, this was another chance for a group success, it also had attached to it the very important entry into the Chariots Of Fire in Sydney on March 2. Using his great gatespeed to good effect early on, Franco Nelson led and was able to defy all challengers, running his final 800m in 55.8. This was the Clive and Rona McKay owned 4yr old entire's 13th win from just 24 lifetime starts, for stake-earnings of $299,826.
Pictured here at Addington over Cup Week, the big question now is what to do with the impressive son of Christian Cullen. While he will definitely head to Sydney, there is a temptation to "have a crack," at the Inter-Dominions with him such is the type of form he is in at present. "We're just trying to work it all out now," said John when questioned as to the likely plan of attack. "The real problem is a lack of racing opportunities before the Sydney races. The NZ Inter-Dom heat is not until 15 February so its a bit of a pain to be honest."
Wherever, the stable choose to head with this guy, he will be competitive and will surely take a power of beating in the many feature races available to his age as the season wears on.
Day one at Blenheim was completed with a 5th victory, this time to the talented, but often inconsistent, Live Or Die 4yr old Robyn's Raider. Driven aggressively early to lead, he appeared headed at the 200m, but showed real heart to fight back and beat two real nice 3yr olds in Moondyne Joe and Bio Marinus.
About 2 hours later, all attention turned to the North Island and Cambridge Raceway. The other top 4yr old from the stable in Elios, was set to take on champion racehorse Christen Me in the JLT Futurity Stakes for 4-5yr olds also at Group 2 level . A catch drive for Brent Mangos, he used his great gate-speed to assume control early on. A mid-race move from Dexter and Christen Me was seen off and then it was a case of "catch me if you can," over the last 400m. Try as he might Christen Me was unable to reel in Elios who was recording his 2nd victory at Grp 2 level and his 8th win in total from just 20 starts. The news got even better for connections though, with this victory also confirming a place for Elios in "the Chariots.
Elios recording easily the biggest win of his 20 start career in the JLT Futurity Stakes over Christen Me
It was then onto Sunday and day two of Marlborough. Enjoying his recent drop back in company, Graduate Under Fire was able to make it back to back victories for his Hilderthorpe owners Ray and Maureen Beale. This was his 5th victory from 37 starts.
The final starring act of 4 magnificent days of racing would come in the shape of 3yr old filly Murphy Brown. An unlucky 2nd on debut, when absolutely poleaxed, the draw looked to be a big issue this time, as she contested what was the first heat of the Nevele R 3yr old fillies series. An inspired drive by Dexter saw Murphy Brown trailling the favourite Goodness Gracious Me after 200m. Given her chance up the lane in the straight, she showed a great turn of speed to get home by 1/2 head in 1.57.9 for the mile. John was suitably impressed by the progress of this filly. "She was picked out by Sam Langrope at the sales. He bought her and then syndicated her amongst family and friends, so it has been a great start for them!" She is clearly a filly that looks a very progressive type over the coming months.
So 4 days of racing and 16 victories.......yeah not bad eh! To Robert, John and their magnificent team who work tirelessly behind the scenes - top work guys.
Posted: Fri 17 Jan 2014