While the stable have been enjoying such a golden run in recent week's this success has been tempered somewhat with the retirement of 3 of our top horses - old timer Rider On The Storm and 4yr old mares Kabet and Surfin Swift. There is also a big cloud hanging over the career of rising star Kotare Mahal.
Rider On The Storm - 9yr B g Live Or Die - Tenisha
(41 starts, 13 wins, 10 seconds, 6 thirds - $188,342)
Probably best remembered for that stunning day in December 2007, when driven by 18yr old Dexter, he smashed the NZ record for 2400m - 2.54.5, that still stands as a 3yr old record.
Probably the most significant of his other victories and one of his final race starts was in the 2009 Pak'N Save Franklin Cup in which he defeated Power Of Tara and champion pacer Changeover.
While Robert was convinced that he could get the horse back to the track, sadly his old body has cried enough. He will probably be remembered as a horse that could have been something special.
Surfin Swift - 4 B m Christian Cullen - Crying Game
(13 starts, 2 wins, 2 seconds - $14,450)
Owned by the Douglas', now based in the North Island, this filly's record may look somewhat unspectacular with only the two wins. However, she was always held in very high regard by Robert and John who were more than happy to throw her in the deep end against the best fillies of her year. The race that most stands out for me was the Cheviot meeting of March 2013. That day she paced the 2600m in 3.11.7 and showed just how good she could have been. Unfortunately unsoundness continued to plague her and while given her chance again this campaign, it was always going to be an uphill battle for her. She will be no doubt do a great job as a broodmare over the coming years.
Kabet - 4Br m - Bettor's Delight - Spring Thaw
(21 starts - 6 wins, 3 seconds and 1 third - $59,586.)
After one win from 5 starts at two, Kabet really flourished at 3, with 5 victories, 3 seconds and a third from just 16 starts. It was unfortunate that in her year group was a champion filly in Adore Me. With her out of the reckoning, a group victory could well have been achievable.
That said she gave a hell of a thrill to her owners, Messrs Woodham, Cummings and Williams. Perhaps her greatest attribute was her ability to use her booming sprint when saved for one shot at them.
While she had come up well at 4, unsoundness continued to plague efforts to get her back to the track. She is now in foal to Christian Cullen.
Blazin N Cullen joins exodus to Australia
Top 4yr old Blazin N Cullen has been sold and will do his future racing in Australia from the stable of John McCarthy. A 4yr B g Christian Cullen - Rye Hanover, "Blaze" leaves these shores at the top of his game. From 13 starts this season he has recorded 3 wins, 3 seconds and 3 thirds. His last start in NZ was an impressive victory at Rangiora over the 2600m std in which he recorded a very quick 3.13.2.
In all Blazin N Cullen raced 36 times in NZ for 9 wins, 6 seconds, 6 thirds - $79,982 in stakes. We wish the new connections all the best and follow his future career with interest.
Hat's off to a true unsung hero
To those who have been around the harness racing industry for some time, the face of Matt Bowden will be a familiar one. Always with a smile on his face, he has long been one of the real respected, "behind the scenes guys," having worked for a host of top stables over the years. In recent times though it has been the Robert Dunn stable that have been the big beneficiary of the years of experience that Matt possesses. "We've been so lucky mate," was John's succinct comment when asked what Matt brings to the team. "To have Matt up north with the horses just takes all the pressure off me and RJ." With the huge stable in Canterbury, neither John nor Robert can afford the time away that such high class racehorses require. "Without a doubt, huge kudos for those two group wins last week - Franco Nelson (Pelorus Classic) and Elios (JLT Futurity Stakes) - goes to Matt. Whenever I have arrived up there, its just a case of hopping in the cart and knowing that the horses are ready to go."
Having been away since early December, based at Steve Stockman's property in Ardmore, Matt is sure to add more miles to his resume over the next couple of months. "He'll head over to Sydney with the two 4yr olds," said John, "so its going to mean more time away from home." However, with a Chariots Of Fire assignment to prepare for and a possible tilt at the Inter-Dominions, I am sure that Matt will be only too happy to continue his relationship with such top horses!
By Mike Drury (Courtesy of ROBERT DUNN RACING)