Day At The Track

Modern great honoured at Melton

11:56 AM 27 Mar 2015 NZDT
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Sundons Gift #.jpg
Sundons Gift

One of harness racing’s modern-day greats will be honoured at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight with the running of the Sundons Gift Free-For-All.

Climbing the ranks to become Australasia’s premier squaregaiter, Sundons Gift set records seemingly at will before his retirement in 2012.

Connections attempted an ill-fated comeback in 2013, but those four starts are best forgotten!

Prepared by astute trainer Chris Lang, Sundons Gift was initially retired with 41 wins from 82 starts, with 10 seconds, six thirds and earnings of $1,272,264 also to his credit.

The gelding’s ‘comeback’ netted a second.

Not only is he the richest Australian-trained trotter, Sundons Gift captured a record 10 Group Ones, including an amazing four consecutive victories in the Australian Grand Prix.

“When he got here he’d had seven starts in New Zealand for no wins, so I didn’t expect that much from him,” Lang admitted.

“Then as I began to work him, he just felt like a good horse and I was waiting for the wheels to fall off at some stage.

“Then as he started racing he was a bit erratic, but never stopped improving.

“If you’d told me what he was going to achieve I would have thought you were dreaming.

“The funny part about it is I’d never met or spoken to Neven Botica when the horse turned up.

“It was Michael Doltoff who recommended our stable and organised for him to come here and the only thing I knew about him was when he arrived and his rug had Bernie on it, so he just became Bernie to us.”

Despite his impressive haul, Lang rates one of Sundons Gift’s defeats as his biggest highlight.

“For me his biggest legacy is his trip to Europe,” Lang declared. “He finished sixth in the Elitlopp, but it was his presence there and the publicity generated that helped lift not only our stable, but the local industry onto an international stage.”

On the topic of international interest, tonight’s event will mark the Aussie debut of American trotter, Imperial Count.

Ironically, the stallion is also owned by Botica, who sent the son of Angus Hall to leading trainer David Aiken.

Aiken has given the trotter three trials, but stated he will “need the run”.

“His trials have been really good. We’ll see how he goes but he’ll need the racing,” Aiken said.

“At home he works like a nice horse and he’s great to have around the place.”

Imperial Count will begin from barrier seven.

  • PAUL COURTS

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