Day At The Track

Hatrick in a hurry for Aaron

02:00 PM 01 Nov 2019 NZDT
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Aaron Dunn,Harness racing
Aaron Dunn

Jovial Horsham harness racing trainer-driver Aaron Dunn is usually all smiles - but at the moment he certainly has every reason.

Dunn made a conscious decision a few years ago to give the sport a red hot go, and this week struck a patch of red hot form, landing three winners in the space of 24 hours.

"I don't bet, but gee a few of them were at good odds," Dunn said.

"Their work at home had been great and they have been racing really well, so the wins weren't complete surprises."

Dunn's winning streak started at Bendigo on Tuesday night with tough five-year-old mare Marjorie Jean (Blissfull Hall-Longtan Ebony (Village Jasper), who did it hard outside the leader Millah Joy ($2.10 fav) but pulled out plenty to score easily at 15/1.

Dunn said he had decided to increase the mare's workload because she puts on weight "in the blink of an eye".

"She is a funny horse. Sometimes her work can be great and then she doesn't take it to the races - but she was in one heck of a mood at Bendigo which usually means she's going to go okay!" he said.

And the luck rolled on when Dunn's talented three-year-old Sporty Azz won the very next event.

The handy son of Sportswriter was a 6/1 chance and led from the start, packing too many guns for Rock On Playboy, the $2.20 fav.

Both winners were driven to perfection by youngster Jackie Barker, who got away with a leisurely speed early on Sporty Azz, then slipped him into another gear for a 56.2 last half.

Sporty Azz was bred by Aaron Dunn, out of the family's consistent race mare Madazhell, and has now won three of his past four.

"Madazhell was a handy performer who just couldn't quite crack it for a win in Melbourne, but she ended up winning seven races and a heap of placings for us, so she paid her way," he said.

The third winner in a superb 24 hours came in the far north-west at MIldura when Keayang Kookai (Sportswriter-Melita (Whats Next), and again, it was Barker in the sulky, rating the pacer to perfection.


Jackie Barker and Keayang Kookai, which has won its last two

The result was never in doubt and punters who took the short odds would have been happy a long way from home with Keayang Kookai scoring a runaway 24 metre victory.

The pacer had also saluted 10 days earlier at Maryborough and that win was a good effort.

"He's a bit one-paced, but we did think he would take some beating in the Mildura event."

Dunn was at the Bendigo meeting, but passed up the four-hour trip north the next night to watch Keayang Kookai.

"I got home from Bendigo at 2am and I was up at 5.30am baling hay. So I didn't get much sleep, then I pulled a hamstring that morning, so I was a scratching from Mildura! It would have been fantastic to be there, but I just wasn't up to it."

Dunn has jumped out of the blocks this season, preparing five winners and four placings from 17 starters for nearly $23,000.

He has established a terrific training complex near Horsham on 240 acres. It features a 1350 metre track with two hill runs, well fenced 50 x 30 yards with shelters and numerous paddocks.

"I decided in the past few years to set it up properly-I spent a lot of time doing the paddocks because I just got sick of fixing them all the time," Dunn said.

"I've been running my own mobile seed cleaning business for the past 20 years and operate three trucks. It's only seasonal, but I'm hoping to perhaps take more of a back seat soon and concentrate on the horses.

"We have six well-bred broodmares and over the years we've bred our own or got one or two from the sales. Although in saying that, we haven't been too often to the sales in the past 13 or 14 years."

Dunn said he still got a helping hand from his dad Barry and a friend from Mortlake in Stevie Blacker.

"Stevie and I go back a long way - we played junior football together. He comes here probably three days a week," he said.

"And my brother Bryan who is an owner and lives in Tasmania, picks out which races may be best suitable for each of our horses. I think he's got Melton or the coming St Arnaud Cup pencilled in for Marjorie Jean."

Dunn said junior reinswoman Jackie Barker, a granddaughter of a legend of the sport, Jim Barker, was a most competent driver.

"I never give her any instructions-she knows our horses and drives them well. I'm on the sidelines with a suspension at the moment, but even when I'm back I'll still be using her often," he said.

 

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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