Champion New Zealand trainer Cran Dalgety returned to Perth last week for the first time for 17 years and he has not given up hope of winning the $175,000 Lancaster Park Golden Nugget Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night with outstanding four-year-old Bit Of A Legend, even though the horse was unplaced in the Four-Year-Old Championship and McInerney Ford Classic at his past two starts.
The 45-year-old Dalgety has fond memories of his first trip to Western Australia when he prepared Desperate Comment for the 1996 interdominion championship.
Desperate Comment, who was driven by Peter Jones, qualified for the final as leading points scorer after a third, a second and a win in the heats. But he finished sixth in the final, won by Young Mister Charles.
Bit Of A Legend, who has amassed $640,178 in prizemoney from 17 wins and 11 seconds from 36 starts, was trained and driven for his four starts at Gloucester Park in this campaign by New Zealander Brent Mangos. His best effort was an easy victory in a prelude of the Golden Nugget three starts ago when he defeated Galactic Galleon and Northview Punter.
"Brent has done a fine job with him, but the horse faces a hard task in Friday night's race," Dalgety said. "Bit Of A Legend is only small and he's not stylish or elegant, but his assets are his great will to win and determination.
"He has drawn barrier four and I'm pretty excited that just to be inside barrier five on the front row. Nowitzki and Condrieu are very fast beginners and I think that when we settle Bit Of A Legend will definitely be in the better half of the midfield --- and that will be a good start. In most of his wins he's come from behind. He just wants to be the winner."
Bit Of A Legend, who will be driven by New Zealand's champion reinsman Dexter Dunn, and has the stable name of Carter, after Dalgety's ten-year-old son Carter, who insisted that his father buy the pacer at the New Zealand yearling sale.
"Bit Of A Legend was very little, but Carter picked him out and said 'we've got to have this one,' Dalgety said. "So I bought him for $NZ50,000, probably from the heart than the head. I had had his half-brother London Legend, who was a good horse.
"I bought Bit Of A Legend for myself, a good stable client in Darryl Brown, from Perth, Ross Stanbury, from Christchurch, and Pat Cabarlla, from Invercargill, and we have no regrets." London Legend, by In The Pocket and the first foal out of Soky's Legend, raced 101 times for Dalgety between 2008 and 2011 for 25 wins, 27 placings and stakes of $456,124.
DEXTER DUNN OUT TO EQUAL HIS FATHER AT GLOUCESTER PARK
Dexter Dunn, New Zealand harness racing's golden boy and a superstar at the age of 24, will make his first appearance in Western Australia when he drives Bit Of A Legend in the $175,000 Lancaster Park Golden Nugget Championship at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
And he would dearly love to emulate the performance of his father Robert, who landed a winner at his only trip to WA, in 1996 when he was successful with Master Musician in a second-round heat of the interdominion championship. Robert Dunn then was in the sulky when Master Musician, the 5/2 favourite, finished third behind Young Mister Charles and Sunshine Band in the final.
Dunn, who will arrive in Perth on Thursday, will get the opportunity to experience driving on the 805m circuit when he handles three pacers trained by Matt Scott in early events on the program.
Scott has nominated Dunn to drive Miss Tee Dawn in the 1730m V. and K. Congerton Memorial Mares Pace, Marooned in the 2130m Happy Birthday Ryan Berti Pace and Zurbaran in the first heat of the Livio (The Champ) Tolomeo The Coulson Pace.
Miss Tee Dawn has drawn the prized No. 1 barrier and has sound prospects of giving Dunn a winner at his first drive at Gloucester Park. This would equal his feat of landing a winner at his first drive in America --- when he was successful behind McClelland (1.50.1) over 1609m at the Meadowlands in New Jersey on June 25, 2011.
Miss Tee Dawn started from the outside of the back ,line and did a good job to finish strongly from the rear to be fourth behind Arts Gangsta over 2190m at Northam on Tuesday of last week. She also unwound a powerful burst from the rear to win from Mount Richon over 2150m at Harvey the previous week.
Marooned, who was claimed for $10,000 last week, has a losing sequence of 20 and faces a stern test from barrier four on the back line. He trailed the pacemaker Sanjaya when a sound third to that pacer last week, with the winner rating 1.55 over 1730m.
Punters are likely to be keen to support the polemarker and smart frontrunner Taiaha against Marooned and the other ten runners in this week's event. Taiaha, who is prepared by Hazelmere trainer Mike Reed, caught the eye when racing first-up at Northam on Tuesday of last week when he raced three back on the pegs and was hampered for room before finishing solidly to be second to Celtic Crusader.
Zurbaran, a winner six starts ago and placed second at two of his past four starts, will be at handsome odds from the outside of the front line in a race in which polemarker Cool Johnny (resuming after a let-up), What God Knows and Soho Highroller will be fancied.
By Ken Casellas