Great old timer back in the winning way at Westport

Great old timer back in the winning way at Westport

He has only re-joined the Robert Dunn stable recently, but a good second to Say My Name at last week's Orari trials convinced John Dun that there was at least another win in the old boy Graduate Under Fire. Back at the track where he recorded his maiden win three and a half years ago, Graduate Under Fire recorded win 11 of his 101 start career beating Sails and Dexter Dunn in a driving finish to the line.

Starting off the 20m backmark, Graduate Under Fire was quick into stride, but settled down in the second half of the field. After getting the back of third favourite Sails that progressed quickly at the 1600m to take the lead, Graduate Under Fire was obliged to sit in the breeze for the next 600m, before assuming the lead from the 1000m. While he travelled well turning for home, it was Sails that had enjoyed the cold sit and was waiting for the gaps to appear. Finally clear at the 100m, Sails powered through to take a narrow lead before Graduate Under Fire dug in to outlast that runner by a head in a Dunn-Dunn finish.

His 11th win, combines with a further 31 placings - 17 seconds and 14 thirds, to underline what a great horse he has been for his owners Ray and Maureen Beale of Hilderthorpe. Now back in C2 company he will take his place in tomorrow's feature at Westport, in which Buster Brady looks set to start a very short-priced favourite after narrowly coming up short in yesterday's cup. With his good manners, Graduate Under Fire is at least a good place hope tomorrow.

The other stable winner yesterday was maiden winner Dream To Reality. After a couple of average runs recently, Dream To Reality was allowed to go out second favourite behind a very heavily supported debutante from the Greg and Nina Hope stable in Franco Lamar.

"I knew he was a lot better than what he had showed at the last couple of starts," said driver John Dunn.

"All the talk though was around Hopey's one so I thought we were running for second placing at best really."

However, the whole complexion of the race would change just after the start as first Franco Lamar went into a full on gallop, while Dream To Reality was able to enjoy an uncontested lead throughout. He always looked to be travelling well within himself and on the turn there was only one horse that you wanted to be on. In the straight, he ran out a convincing winner by three and a half lengths in a smart 3.24.6 for the mobile 2600m.

The win is the second in six starts for the Bettor's Delight three year old, after a penalty free win on debut at Forbury as a two year old. He continues a good run for his owners the Leadley's who have enjoyed success recently with two year old Alta Maestro and with Franco Cristiano, a horse that they are part owners in. Both of these horses and another that they own, Alta Las Vegas, will all race at Auckland on New Years Eve.

Returntorocknroll put in a nice run for third in the first race after sitting parked throughout. She looks a big chance for that maiden win in the first tomorrow.

The big disappointment of the day was Say My Name in the Westport Cup. John was very confident ahead of the race but after improving to be parked from the 1600m, the Art Major 5yr old was battling turning for home, eventually finishing a well beaten 9th.

"It probably wasn't one of my better drives," said John after the race.

"I was in two minds as to whether I should go around when I did and as it panned out it wasn't ideal being parked for the last mile after a long time away from the track."

"We will miss Omakau now and at this stage my preference is to go around at Reefton on Friday."

"He ate up well after the race, so I am happy with him for now and know he is a much better horse than he showed yesterday."

Posted: Tue 27 Dec 2016