Great day for Dunn family on Day One at Marlborough

The annual summer meets at both Nelson and Marlborough have often proved happy hunting grounds for the Robert Dunn stable. A four win bag to Robert as a trainer and John as a driver has definitely started the two day Marlborough meet on a superb note.

There was a lot of confidence about 3yr old American Ideal filly American Tart's chances today on debut and she never looked out of second gear, despatching a handy field of maidens with ease. The winner of a trial and a workout recently, John rated American Tart as his best of the day and he drove her accordingly. Beaten for the early lead, she was given rein to go to the front at the 1900m. Once having assumed the front she was allowed to roll along, setting a strong tempo. At the 1400m, brother Dexter driving Runaway Star headed forward to find the breeze and thereafter, there were no further moves in the race. At the 400m, those two runners drew about three lengths clear of the field and at the 200m were locked together in battle. However, John was just kidding on the long striding filly and as soon as he went for her the response was instant, and at the line they were going away by an ever increasing two and a half lengths in a smart 2.49.2 for the 2300m journey. The final sectionals cut out in 800m 56.6 and 400m 28.1 suggest that this is a filly with a fair bit of class.

American Tart is the first foal to race out of Redheadedwildflower, a one win mare raced out of the stable previously. She is raced by her breeder Rob Courtney, along with John and Peter McAlister. She will miss the second day of the meeting, instead being reserved for Invercargill Cup Day next Saturday.

For a horse that took until his 7th start to win a race, Kotare Yael has now well and truly hit his straps, completing a hatrick of wins today at start nine of his career and taking his earnings to over the $17,000 mark. Raced by his breeders Tony and Gay Abell and Kotare Downs, he showed some real ticker to get home today after being obliged to race parked for the last 1300m of the race, outside the pacemaker Bella Jones. While vulnerable to those coming off his back John never panicked sitting one out and his charge appeared to relax beautifully and was on a tight rein turning for home. He immediately mastered Bella Jones once in the straight and after putting a two length buffer on the field at the 200m fought tenaciously to win by a neck over Nek Time, with a further half neck back to Chip Ganassi in third. The full journey was run in 2.50.9 and with the final sectionals cut out in 800m 57.2 and 400m 27.9, it was hard for those coming from the back to make an impression.

Kotare Yael will now tackle a C2 - C2 assignment on the second day and while he is fast climbing the classes, he is sure to give a good account again from a favourable draw.

Dalness Xchange was big on both days at Nelson and again put in a top effort today against C2 - C3 company. After settling midfield early on from her second line draw, she was awakwardly placed four back on the markers at the 1300m. However, with a strong pace set up front by Expressive Victor, that was strongly attended down the back by favourite Innocent Artist, the gaps always looked likely to come. At the 400m John was able to extricate from a tight spot and peeled four wide coming into the straight. While he still had a bit of work to reel in the leaders, once she flattened out, the Changeover 4yr old stormed home over the top of her opposition and at the line was a comfortable winner by one and a quarter lengths in a smart 2.48.2 for the 2300m.  

Today's win was the third in an eight start career and she is doing a superb job for Dave and Mrs Heather King. She will now deservedly take her place in the cup on Sunday and while this is a huge step up in company, she does appear the type of mare that can make the necessary improvement.

The final of the four stable winners for the day was good three year old Bite The Bullet. After a nice win at Nelson and then a hard fought second on day two he was confidently expected to deliver today. However, the bad luck that he has with the draws continued and he had to be good to come from the back to deliver win two of his career.

John allowed the Mach Three 3yr old the chance to settle early and he was well back with a lap to go as second favourite Crackabella dominated up top. He made his move down the back straight with about 800m to go and was level pegging with Crackabella from the 400m. Turning in and the two settled down for a good fight. It was only from the 100m that Bite The Bullet gained the ascendancy and went to the line a good winner by three quarters of a length in 2.51.5 for the 2300m over Crackabella, with Coringa Delight a fast finishing third.

Bite The Bullet will line up in C1 company again on day two, after a free win today. The bad luck with the draw continues after drawing eight.

Other top efforts by stable runners today included:

Angel Of Destiny - a nice third on debut 

Graduate Under Fire and Joey Maguire - 3rd and 4th in the day's feature the cup prelude

Meanwhile Dexter also got a big piece of the action today with three wins - Alpha Rock and Kompressor for the Cran Dalgety stable and Santorini Sunset for Kevin Townley in the day's feature trot. Dexter now goes to 97 in the drivers' premiership, with John a clear second on 54 wins. The Purdon/Rasmussen team hold a seven win lead in the trainers premiership over Robert.

To view all four of the winners by the stable today check out the Video Watch page:

Posted: Fri 22 Jan 2016