Coming of age for four year olds
On Flying Stakes Day at Ashburton yesterday, there was a sense that two of the stables most promising horses, Henry Hubert and Sundees Son are set to take some big steps in their career. Their performances in two of the day's intermediate events marked them as horses well and truly on the rise.
Driver Gavin Smith combined with both runners yesterday and continued an amzing strike rate that he has driving for the Robert Dunn stable.
First up, it was the turn of Henry Hubert who was taking on a field of up-and-comers over the 2400m mobile. The real problem looked to be the draw, but when Smith extricated his charge from a tight spot after 500m, he was immediately out and after pacemaker Beaudiene Western, down from the North Island in preparation for the Sires Stakes on Cup Day. After a brief tussle with the northerner, Smith and Henry Hubert took the lead with a mile to go.
It was evident as far out as the 800m that something special was about to happen as Henry Hubert had his rivals gasping as he sailed away down the backstraight. Able to get away with a 29.2 quarter, he then sprinted home in 27.7 to win by six lengths from a late finisher in Acuto, with second favourite Smokin By a further one and a quarter lengths away. His overall time of 2.52.7 was just 0.2 seconds outside the New Zealand record set by the ill-fated The Dorchester in last year's race.
Co-trainer John Dunn was very complimentary of the Bettor's Delight four year old.
"It was great to see him pacing probably the best he ever has."
"We thought that the run last start was very good, as he had been taken on a bit and obviously he went very well when driven by Ben Hope first up."
"We have definitely seen a lot of improvement in him both mentally and physically this season and we haven't gotten to the bottom of him either."
A likely plan from here sees him take on PGG Wrightson Aged Classic at Kaikoura on Monday, before taking in the junior free-for-all at Addington on Cup Day.
Owned by Ross and Angela Gordon, Henry Hubert is a full brother to Lambros that raced successfully also out of the stable, before being sold on to Australia.
A little bit later on the programme and Smith took the seat behind a trotter of huge promise in Sundees Son. The winner of four of his 22 starts and over $60,000 in stake-earnings before yesterday, Sundees Son has proved frustrating at times in the past for the stable, but only because they realise what a talent that he is.
Heading into yesterday's resumption a little bit underdone, John was quietly confident, but also a little bit weary after a break at last week's Rangiora workouts.
Sundees Son stepped like a toff from the 10m and off the unruly and was perfected positioned in the one-one after the first 200m. After enjoying a perfect run in that spot until the 1000m, Smith opted to go forward ahead of Globe Trekker, but would sit parked from the 800m, as that runner ran to the lead. Turning for home, he was immediately up and putting it to Globe Trekker and ran to the lead for an incredibly confident looking Smith. Over the last 100m he was allowed to stride out under his own steam as he went to the line an easy one length winner, a margin that clearly flattered his well beaten rivals.
The time of 3.03.6 for the 2400m stand was very good, but the closing sectionals of 56.1 for the last 800m and 28.2 for the last 400m stamp the class of the performance.
Sundees Son will now head towards Cup Week, where he was a winner last year.
The other standout run on the day was definitely from Alta Orlando in the Flying Stakes. From his unruly spot he bobbled away, but then quickly settled into his stride to be well placed three back on the outside, on the back of stablemate Captain Dolmio.
Following a conservatively run first mile of the race, dictated by the Purdon/Rasmussen pair of Dream About Me and Eamon Maguire, the last 800m was always going to be run at some crazy sectionals and make it so hard for those off the pace to win the race. Four lengths off leader Dream About Me at the 800m, Alta Orlando got home like the great stayer he is to be beaten just under two lengths by Eamon Maguire and Dream About Me. With the last 800m run in 54.2 off the front, he has paced home himself in 53.8 seconds and must now be regarded as one of the genuine challengers to the All Stars arsenal over the 3200m trip of the cup.
Captain Dolmio got home resolutely after a nice trip throughout for Nathan Williamson to run 7th, while it wasn't Letspendanitetogetha's day after some great lead-up form heading into the race.
Posted: Tue 23 Oct 2018