Sundees Son fast resetting the record books

Sundees Son fast resetting the record books

With another Group One win and another New Zeland Record breaking performance at Alexandra Park last night, Sundees Son is fast etching a very special place for himself in the New Zealand Trotting record books. The once frustrating, but always talented square-gaiter has well and truly grown up and is now writing his own unique story as part of New Zealand harness royalty.  

Rewind the story to June 2019 and Sundees Son had just added a Group One Harness Jewels win at Addington to wins in the previous month, both at Group One level in the ANZAC Cup and the Rowe Cup. Such was the nature of those victories that he appeared likely to dominate the open class trotting ranks for some time. After a brief break, he started the 2019-2020 season just as he had left off the previous, with totally dominant victories at Addington, including the Group Three Ordeal Trotting Cup. However, a late break after leading in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup, followed by similar below par efforts at Ashburton and Addington revealed that something was amiss and plans to tackle the Dominion Handicap and other big season targets were put on hold, with connections determined that time would be the best friend for the still flawed, but hugely talented individual. 

It would be eight months before Sundees Son was again seen on the race-track. A break on that occasion was more a reflection of the time that he had been away from the track, but it was a different story when he was seen six weeks late in defence of the Ordeal Trotting Cup. After trotting off the mark like a toff, he was much too good winning by five lengths after sitting parked from the 1200m. A further victory followed in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup a fortnight later, another devastating victory over Majestic Man.

With the son of Majestic Son kept restricted to stand starts through to the Dominion Handicap, he would have just the one further start before that target, at Kaikoura on their cup day. A check at the 600m put paid to his chances that day and gave some hope to other challengers, but driver John Dunn was never concerned putting it down to one of those things that can occur in the course of any race. The first of his three New Zealand Record breaking wins in the Dominion Handicap quickly backed up Dunn's confidence as he decimated a very good field of trotters in an incredible 4.00.5, having sat parked for the last 1400m.

With the Dominion Handicap victory ticked off, it was onwards and upwards with a North Island campaign. First up it was the Group Two Lyell Creek Stakes at Alexandra Park, where after again having to sit parked the trip, he was simply stunning in winning over Majestic Man in 2.39.5 for the 2200m, a new New Zealand record. Two weeks later, Majestic Man finally got one back on his rival, proving too slick at Cambridge over the mile cut out in a quick 1.55.7. Any thoughts that Sundees Son may be showing signs of vulnerability through that defeat would be again be put to the test through battle with not just Majestic Man, but also the newcomer Bolt For Brilliance in the Group One National Trot at Alexandra Park a week later.

Last night's Group One, was run over the 2700m trip and was always likely to favour Sundees Son, the champion stayer that he is. In racing however, there are no certainties. While he held his own off the gate, it would be Majestic Man that would blast the gate for Brad Williamson to take the early lead. Eager to put his best foot forward, Bolt For Brilliance trotted his way to the top at the 2400m, with Sundees Son four lengths away in 4th. As soon as Tony Herlihy backed off the pace with that runner at the 2000m, John was straight around to the lead, keen to dictate his own terms. From there he was able to get away with some soft sectionals. A last 800m in 55.3, a final quarter in 27.0 saw him not only a two and a quarter length winner over Bolt For Brilliance at the line, but also the owner of a third New Zealand Record, having trotted the 2700m mobile in 3.20.3, taking 0.2 seconds off Winterfell's previous record. 

It was an enthusiastic John Dunn post-race reflecting on the fifth Group One victory by Sundees Son.

"I got him settled early and picked the right time to move."

"We got nice enough sectionals in front and sprinted home pretty quick. He felt a million dollars."

"A big credit goes to Craig Edmonds who has been up here with him."

"When he is in the zone, this horse is pretty freakish to drive really."

The win last night was the 19th of Sundees Son's 55 start career and takes his stake-earnings to just shy of $600,000 for owners Colin and Nancy Hair. They would be the first to recognise the huge team effort that has gone into getting the horse to the point he is at today, but would also single out John's father-in-law Craig Edmonds for the incredile job that he does with this horse.

Sundees Son wins his 5th Group One and establishes a third NZ Record 

Just one race later and it was the night's feature race the Group One Auckland Cup, where we were represented by stable newcomer Matt Damon. After stepping the mark well enough, he ended up four and five back in the running, with the pace dominated by the All Stars stable runners. After following through the eventual winner Amazing Dream (three back), when she started her run at the 400m, he kept coming in the straight to finish 4th, behind the three big guns of the race, Amazing Dream finishing over top of both Spankem and Copy That in nailling the win. John was absolutely over the moon with the run.

"I was really happy with that performance."

"He found the fence like you have to when they are run those sectionals."

"To finish 4th behind those horses at just his 14th start we were rapt."

Matt Damon was a very good 4th at just start 14 behind Amazing Dream in the cup

Photo: HRNZ

Posted: Fri 01 Jan 2021

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