Dominion Handicap win the result of a massive team effort
He has been a troublesome boy at various stages of his career, but today Sundees Son took a significant step in his pursuit of trotting greatness, with a New Zealand record performance in the Dominion Handicap. The win is his 4th at Group One level and completes the much sought after Rowe Cup - Dominion Handicap double. He now appears to have this season's trotting features at his mercy.
A race that had previously eluded both trainer and driver, the Dominion Handicap had been the 2019-2020 season target, for Sundees Son before injury put paid to his plans. A long break away from the track followed, before Sundees Son resumed at the end of July. With just the three starts through the spring, that included Group wins in the Ordeal Cup and Canterbury Park Trotting Cup, confidence in the camp was high heading into his Kaikoura lead-up. A check by a breaking runner in that race ruined his chances and for his opponents in today's Dominion Handicap gave them a slight hope that things may not be 100% with the Majestic Son six year old. Regular driver John Dunn would have none have that however, going into today's feature with superb confidence that only bad luck would doom his charge.
Away well from his wide draw today, Sundees Son settled handy enough, but was allowed to slide forward by John with just over two laps to go. When the stablemate Pres Da Belle hopped off the rails at the 2200m, Sundees Son was soon well spotted in the one-one as Majestic Lavros set a strong clip up front. With the first mile cut out in a shade over two minutes, John was again on the move at the 1400m, wanting to ensure that the race was run at a genuine clip. From the parked position, he was able to apply plenty of pressure to the pacemaker, so much so that by the 400m he had hit the front and was off for home. While Majestic Man which trailled rallied strongly for second, he was nearly four lengths in arrears at the line, with Australian Tough Monarch closing strongly for a much improved third.
Put simply, Sundees Son was much too good today, showing that when he is in the right zone, he is nigh unbeatable. Driver John Dunn was his typical humble self after the race, but inside must have been beaming at the result, that has been a long time in the planning. He followed through with a preconceived plan to take luck out of the race.
"He went to sleep once parked and was always travelling."
"His forte is putting on that pressure like he did down the back and that again was the winning of today's race."
John was quick to heap praise on his big support team that allowed him and Robert to turn out 50 runners over the two days of Addington.
"It's a massive operation. We have an unbelievable staff, owners and helpers."
"It's always great to win a Group One and well done to Colin and Nancy."
Owner Colin Hair was delighted with the win as you would expect, paying special credit to John's father-in-law Craig Edmonds for the part that he has played getting "Sunny" back to his very best form.
"Craig has done a tremendous job and I would like to thank the whole team."
For trainer Robert Dunn, the win completes the grand-slam of New Zealand's trotting and pacing features. He too was quick to thank others for their part in making today's win possible.
"It was an outstanding drive by John, taking bad luck out of play."
"Craig has done an outstanding job with the horse including with his shoeing."
"To our vet Sam Taylor we must pay a lot of credit. He has got the horse back sound and happy and we know how good he is when he is sound."
From a personal point of view, Robert was stoked to finally win the Dominion, after changing the focus in recent years to take on more trotters also.
"It is a pleasure to win a Dominion Handicap, this is a race that everyone aspires to win."
With a winning time of 4.00.5 this afternoon. Sundees Son took 0.2 seconds off Monbet's record recorded when winning the race in 2016.
A massive congratulations to all of the team. It was great to see a plan come off.
Posted: Fri 13 Nov 2020