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Some of New Zealand’s top harness racing trainers have always believed in Jack MacKinnon and now the recently turned 21-year-old is starting to repay their faith in them. When MacKinnon was 17 master Canterbury trainer Paul Nairn entrusted the then Ponsonby teenager with some of his team in the North Island. Since then MacKinnon has also worked for several horsemen and women including Tim Vince, Michelle Wallis & Bernie Hackett, but in 2015 he started to impress top New Zealand trainer, Robert Dunn. “Jack worked part-time for me for about a year while he worked for his father (Jamie) in his Auckland ‘Olympic Swiss Watches’ business. “He came to me very experienced considering he was just 19 or 20. Then in February we took him on full-time in Pukekohe. He gets on well with a lot of my horses and he is a very capable horseman who came to me with a very impressive CV,” Dunn said. “If Paul Nairn can put his faith in him as a teenager, then that’s good enough for me,” Dunn said. Nairn also had high praise for MacKinnon. "Jack has helped me out when I come north and he is a smart young guy and very conscientious. I’ve always believed in his horsemanship, he has a bright future in the game," Nairn said. Going into Friday’s (June 17) meeting at Alexandra Park, MacKinnon was the leading junior driver at ‘Northern Headquarters’. He put that down to experience and a better quality of horse he is now driving. “I really want to win the Alexandra Park premiership. It was my goal last year and I finished in the top five. Coming to Robert’s was one of the best decision’s I’ve ever made. “My driving has improved I think because Robert has a large team and therefore I can get better quality drives. I’m learning all the time. Robert is one of New Zealand’s best trainers. The statistics will tell you that,” MacKinnon said. This was clearly evident last Friday night when MacKinnon drove the Dunn trained Cherry Bay to her first win in four starts. “He gets on very good with that filly and got the best out of her last week. He also had a good rapport with Whitney. He’s a very good wee driver and we have yet to see the best of him. “I’m just happy we are able to provide him with the next stepping stone in his driving career,” Dunn said. Both of MacKinnon’s parents were delighted with the way a city boy was making it in a predominantly rural sport. “It’s not easy for him because he wasn’t born into a prominent harness racing family. But now he’s working for Robert Dunn and he’s a very good friend of mine and he is an exceptional trainer. That can only be good for his career,” said Dad, Jamie. MacKinnon’s mother was equally proud. “I am one of Jacks biggest supporters. He has the whole family backing him and we are absolutely thrilled with his success. His dedication and hard work is paying off and it's great to see his name out there amongst the best of the best,” his Mum, Gayleen said. Auckland-born and Mt Albert Grammar educated MacKinnon is currently experiencing his most successful season in the sulky with nine wins – six of them at Alexandra Park. All up he’s saluted the judge 21 times since 2013. He’s also trained three winners since 2014, including two this season – Kneed The Dough at Thames in January and Any Old Way at Alexandra Park in August. “I just want to keep turning over the winners so other owners and trainers realise I can drive a bit. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I am living the dream and am delighted to be working in one of New Zealand’s biggest and most successful stables,” the Northern 2014 Primary ITO Cadet of the Year said. MacKinnon trained his first winner when Ruby Castleton won at Tauranga on January 26, 2014. That came 19 months after MacKinnon won his first race in the sulky behind his mate David Branch’s then 6-year-old pacer, All About Speed (June 11, 2012). MacKinnon, a former star in the Kidz Kartz ranks, paid a tribute to those who taught him during those mini-pony days. "If it wasn't for Kidz Kartz and the people who educated me on how to drive I wouldn't be where I am today. I have always wanted to be a driver and Kidz Kartz made my dream come true," MacKinnon said. “I also want to thank every owner and trainer who has put their faith in me since then,” he added. There have been 19 junior drivers who have lined up at ‘The Park’ this season. The TOP FIVE Junior Drivers at Alexandra Park (as at June 16) are: Junior Driver Starts Wins Seconds Thirds UDR Jack MacKinnon 84 6 14 7 0.1918 Tony Cameron  27 5 1 2 0.2305 Sean Grayling  26 5 1 5 0.2778 Kyle Marshall  53 5 2 7 0.1593 Andre Poutama  39 4 2 1 0.1396 Last season's TOP 5 Juniors at Alexandra Park Junior Driver Starts Wins Seconds Thirds UDR Tony Cameron 41 6 7 6 0.29 Michael Blakemore  27 4 5 4 0.3004 Kim Butt  9 4 0 2 0.5185 Robbie Close  11 4 2 2 0.5253 Jack MacKinnon  59 4 8 5 0.1714

The rain kept coming and so did the winners for Kaiapoi based Harness Racing Driver/Trainer Gavin Smith. For the past few days Smith has watched his good mates Robert and John Dunn's team dominate. The Dunn's picked up trebles at Forbury on Thursday, Nelson on Friday and Auckland on Friday night. Not to be out done, Smith also picked up a double on the first day of Nelson Harness Racing Club's annual two day winter meeting with his own runner Alison Stokke and the Bruce Hutton trained Ideal Arden. And by the end on of racing on Sunday, there was only one person people on course were talking about, and that was Smith. After dominating the 9 card meeting with 4 driving win's which included 2 training wins. Alison Stokke, a 3yo Bettor's Delight filly, put the writing on the wall for Friday's maiden victory with a strong 2nd at Ashburton 5 days earlier. Making a flying from the tapes, Smith had the filly who is owned by his wife Sara and J Chin, out front and running along nicely before handing up to Sam Ottley and 2nd favourite Glenferrie Classic with 1400m to run. It all nearly turned to disaster though when Glenferrie Classic galloped in front, causing Alison Stokke to break for several strides before Smith was able to get her back down into a pace. With the galloper safely negotiated, Gavin asked his charge for a full effort and cleared out to win by 1 ½ lengths over Bobby M (Robbie Close) and Cullen's Bardon (Stephen McNally). Although it was the drives on Ideal Arden in the Nelson Winter Cup Prelude and Cup that had most people impressed. Using the American Ideal gelding's stand start speed to lead out on both occasions, Smith then handed up to the Robert Dunn trained Highview Freddy, who is well known as a front runner. From there on it was just a matter of Smith extracting the Bruce Hutton trained 6yo to either the inside or the outside of the leading and zipping away. Ideal Arden was the only runner to record a win on both days of the meeting. Smith started off his Sunday morning with a well deserved win aboard It's How You Use It who is trained by former stable employee Lawrence McCormick. The 5yo mare by Diedre Don recorded her maiden victory at start number 18 for owners, J T Morrison, A J Morrison, M J Gallagher, A Palmer, Mrs J E Lowe and Lawrence himself. Smith also recorded wins with pacer Melanie Ohara, who galloped on the first day but thanks to a change in bit was a strong maiden winner. While He's Like The Wind put up a improved performance after galloping late on day one to record win number three of his career. Andrew Fitzgerald

It was business as usual for Team Dunn at the Nelson Harness Racing Meeting today. Backing up from a treble at last nights Forbury Park Trotting Meeting, the Dunn team started their late season charge towards closing the premiership gap between themselves and the All Stars team. Sitting on 97 wins coming into todays meeting, that was soon 98 when maiden trotter Bourbon And Dry won the first of the day. Purchased at the late Carl Middleton's dispersal sale by the Neumann family, Bourbon And Dry was having his 2nd run from a spell when he beat 40 start maiden South Coaster, trained by Brad Mowbray at Yaldhurst, was will be forced to come back on Sunday to try and break his maiden status. Fast forward to race 6 and smart 3yo pacer Letspendanighttogetha was a dominate winner and brought up win number 99 for the season for trainer Robert Dunn and also win 99 for driver John Dunn. Away well from barrier one, the Washington VC gelding was shuffled back along the fence, before storming up the passing lane to win by ½ length to a super brave Ultimate Fella in 2nd. It took until the last race in the day for Team Dunn to bring up season win 100 and what a way to do it. Driver Ross Houghton, who is John Dunn's right hand man at their Woodend operation, was successful on Joey Maguire who he also part owns. It was a masterful drive by Houghton, who also brought up his 50th Career driving win, to find the front early on after drawing badly on the second row. After being allowed to dictate the race in front, Ross was off and gone at the top of the straight with 29.2 final quarter on a slushy Nelson track. Houghton was obviously stoked with the win, shown by his large salute to the crowd as he went over the line. Todays treble closed the gap in the premiership down to just 20 wins with a little over 6 weeks left to go in the season. John will look to pick up his 100th Season driving win on Sunday. Bourban And Dry Letspendanighttogetha Joey Maguire Andrew Fitzgerald

Maybe there is one last plot twist in the harness racing national trainers’ premiership after all. A hat-trick of wins at Forbury Park on Thursday night set the ball rolling for the weekend that could make or break Robert Dunn’s chances of winning the national title. Still 23 wins behind the Purdon/Rasmussen stable, Dunn has a bit of ground to make up - but has the luxury of a strong and plentiful winter racing team which will take him deep into July. The All Stars on the other hand are expected to start to slow their operation down, but with a number of Breeders Crown heats to be contested as well as the odd winter racing proposition they will still be out and about. Dunn made the call to push for the premiership earlier in the year when things were close. He’s had to watch as his stable ran a string of unlucky placings over the last month while the All Stars have kicked right into gear. But last night’s treble, including the first driving win for Craig Smith, might have been the boost needed to get things moving and with 14 more chances over the course of the weekend - especially considering one venue is Nelson could really set things alight. The stable has eight runners engaged on the opening day of the Nelson Harness Racing Club’s Winter meeting and there are a number of strong winning chances amongst them. Those who race today at Nelson will also race there again on Sunday giving the stable two bites of the cherry. Leading the charge is promising 3-year-old, Letspendanitetogetha. The Washington VC gelding, who has placed behind; GI Joe, Major Ben and Mr Mojito in his last three starts gets the coveted ace barrier draw against a tidy field of pacers and will give his owners; Reg Storer and Terry McDonald a great shot at the second win of his career. Yukon Cloud, who was a very handy runner-up behind Anny Ivy when last produced also has the one marble and will be hard to beat from there for Ross Houghton. An in-form Highview Freddy and the consistent Joey Maguire look like other leading chances of success for the barn at Richmond Park. In Auckland, five runners will do business - spearheaded by talented trotter, Natural and Bevan’s Cullen was very good last week at Alexandra Park. Matt Markham

Canterbury based Harness Racing Junior Driver Craig Smith's past month in the sport have involved one of the worst days, and now the best day of his career so far. 3 weeks ago, Ohoka Benson who was part owned by Smith, sustained a life ended injury at Timaru. The loss of his good mate 'Ben' hit him hard but the stable rallied around Craig, and soon he was back to the smiling and laughing Craig Smith everyone knows. "The support from everyone after losing Ben was awesome and Nigel Armstrong gifted me a 50% share in Vanhalem, so that's the reason I'm driving him. I owe this win to him and the rest of the Syndicate members" said Smith. Smith picked up his first driving success from just the 29 career drives aboard the Robert Dunn trained Vanhalem at Forbury Park tonight. Shuffled back early after the start from barrier 1, Smith soon had the 5yo Santanna Blue Chip gelding off the pegs and into the 1x1 position before again being shuffled back. Down the back Craig was able to push out and get a lovely drag into the race behind Blair Orange and Really Desirable, before just being able to hold on from a fast finishing Jessica Young and Real Raider. Vanhalem is owned by the Westview Racing No 15 Syndicate, which is run by Nigel Armstrong, who is a large supporter of the Robert Dunn barn and Craig. From just the 4 drives behind Vanhalem, Smith has recorded a 3rd, a 10th, a 2nd and now a win. Not having any family involved in Harness Racing didn't stop Craig getting involved in the industry. “I went along to the races one day with a bunch of school mates and liked what I saw, so I looked up some stables and asked around.  Most people told me Robert & John were some of the best, so I rang up and asked for a job” said Smith. "I wasn't too worried about how long it took to get my first win, being out there and gaining experience was what I was after" "I'd love to thank everyone over the last few years who have given me advice, especially John. Being able to learn off John and Dexter each day has been a huge help to my driving". Craig has been employed by Dunn for approximately 3 years and has had stints with the satellite stable up in Auckland, but is currently in charge of a team of 7-8 runners based out of Martin Denton's property in Mosgiel. "Marty has been great, the team are going super at the moment, I just hope it continues" Dunn also picked up another two wins with Music and Mr Meddle saluting the judge, both were driven by son Dexter. With the support of John & Robert Dunn this certainly won't be Craig's last winner, we look forward to following him over the following seasons. Andrew Fitzgerald

If there is to be any chance of a stable success on jewels day, it will most likely have been in the 4yr old Diamond for the mares. Miss Daisy and Dalness Xchange are two quality mares and while needing that ounce of luck on the big day, can get a major slice of the prize. Miss Daisy has always been a notch below the very best mares, but her stocks have increased steadily this season as some of the real class mares of her age - especially The Orange Agent and Fight For Glory - have been resigned to the sideline through injury and retirement. In her lead-up race last week at Alexandra Park she was stunning in fillies and mares company, blasting the gate from a wide draw and then being untroubled to lead throughout. While this week's race is a major step up, from her good draw she will get all favours with options to either stay in front, or to hand up to one of the more favoured brigade. She is sure to be ultra competitive here. Stablemate Dalness Xchange has done very well this season and has a Group One placing in top mares company at Addington in her form four starts ago. She rarely runs a bad race and if she can get forward early from an awkward draw, she would be far from a forlorn hope for driver Colin De Filippi. Eyrish Mist is a newcomer to the stable, transferred this week by owner Ricky Allen. He contests the 2yr old Ruby for the trotters (Race Two) and from his unruly barrier, will need mistakes by others and be on his very best behaviour. While he shows a lot of promise he may be a season away from his best. Billy Badger (Race Six) contests the 2yr old Emerald for the colts and geldings. From his wide second line draw, he will need every bit of luck for driver Dexter Dunn and deserves to be at long odds. The final two stable runners on the day are Little Rascal and Robbie Burns in the 4yr old Emerald. Both horses are in form, but have had contrasting luck with the draw. Little Rascal from two looks sure to go forward early. He may end up in a good spot and could be a nice place hope at odds. Robbie Burns has had no luck at all drawing wide on the second line. He will rely on a cracking pace up front and a nice drag into it to have any chance. He too is a place hope. Robert Dunn Trotting Stables

With no shortage of racing in Dunedin in the next month, the decision has been made by Robert and John Dunn to base a team in the south headed by Craig Smith. Smith will look after a team of 5-6 horses out of the Mosgiel property that Martin Denton trains from. "As much as anything it is trying to look after the owners really," said John. "The types of horses that we will send down will be the ones that have been competitive at Manawatu and Forbury as of late." "They have either met their mark in Canterbury, or are just needing that slight drop-back in class to be really competitive." John sees Craig as the ideal man to look after these horses. "He's a great worker Craig and he can look after our ones and give Marty a hand with his ones. They get on well so it should be a good fit." John has been very mindful of travel costs and the fact that the owners do take a decent hit in the pocket whenever their horses travel. "It is hard on the owners definitely. This way it will keep the costs down in terms of travelling and they will have a race each week that they will be competitive in." This weekend there is a big stable representation, with 23 horses down to run from Auckland in the north to Addington in the South.  Michael Drury Robert Dunn Trotting Stables

He was meant to be enjoying some time on the hills in the north, but in a cruel twist of fate, Wesley Silcox has lost his life in a freak accident caused by a lightning strike. Always rated highly by the stable, Wesley Silcox, the winner of eight of his 12 race starts was in recovery mode after being troubled by a suspensory injury. The winner of his last three starts in Auckland 14 months ago, Wesley Silcox was being given every chance to return to the track after injuries had curtailed his promising career. "We thought this time that rather than bugger around we'd give him every chance to recover and that time would be his best friend," said Robert. However, some severe weather including some spectacular electrical storms hit the north late last week. "When we were coming back from the races last Friday you couldn't see a thing," said John. "It was shocking weather." Further north and it was one of these electrical storms that would seal the fate of Wesley Silcox. "He was in a paddock with a couple of other horses," said John "and it sounds like a tree in the paddock got hit by lightning." "Wesley Silcox was obviously sheltering under the tree when a massive branch fell hitting him and taking his life. They reckon he would have been dead instantly." "Its really sad," said Robert. "He had a lot of untapped potential and I was confident we would get him back and into the highest classes." "They are a great bunch of owners, but I feel really bad especially for Stu Leadley who owned a half share in the horse. Stu owns Alta Las Vegas outright and is also a part-owner in Franco Cristiano, both horses that went amiss this season suffering the same injury, a fracture of the pastern. I am just pleased for him that Franco Cristiano is getting close to being on the track again." Robert Dunn Trotting Stables www.robertdunntrotting.co.nz

On the brink of a drop-back leading into tonight's assignment, Little Rascal produced a tough winning run, after missing away and in doing so strengthened his claim for a start in this year's 4yr old Emerald for the colts and geldings. After a good run for 6th in the Taylor Mile two starts ago, the son of Panspacificflight had no luck in Field Marshall's Messenger, choking down and being pulled out of the race. John had reported pre-race that the horse had worked up well leading into tonight's assignment, but his real concern was the stand start manners. As he has done previous, he bobbled away at the start, settling at the tailend. With a strong tempo being set up front John waited until the backstraight to launch and he strode to the front entering the straight. Having done a power of work, he did look vulnerable in the run to the line, but fought resolutely to hold on by a neck from Risk in 3.23.9 for the 2700m. Tonight's winning stake see's him rise a few places on the jewels leaderboard to 9th spot and he now looks a great chance to join stablemate Robbie Burns on jewels day in three weeks time. The win tonight was Little Rascal's was his 7th from 35 starts and takes his stake-earnings to over $90,000 for his owner Ian Dobson. Courtesy of Robert Dunn Trotting Stables

The last time popular Canterbury trainer/driver Jim Curtin ventured north to the mighty Manawatu Raceway was back in February of 2015. He picked up a driving/training win with The Persuader, while he also saluted the judge with Miss Middleton for Palmerston North trainer Stephen Doody.   Curtin travels north with 1 stable runner Atchoo and while she has drawn badly she doesn’t appear the worst chance. “We had to come north to find a suitable race for her; she’s not too good from the tapes. I thought she would be a good chance but it’s a hard draw so we are hoping for some luck” said Jim. Interestingly enough, Curtin has driven 7 trebles at the Manawatu track, and he is a regular to salute the judge. “7 trebles are pretty nice but I’ve had some luck on the track and hopefully it continues” Jim also had a further 6 drives and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him salute the judge with any of them. Jim Curtin & The Persuader winning at Manawatu back in February 2015. Robert & John Dunn travel north with a strong team of 4 runners, which includes last start Forbury winner The Royal Garden and while the son of Mach Three climbs a grade for this assignment he slots in well and looks mighty tough to beat. While earlier on in the night Mr Meddle, a 5yo Live Or Die gelding comes up with the plum draw, and looks the likely leader in an even C2 field. He was only beaten 2.5l by Beyond Belief, which has since ran 2nd in a hard race. That form should make Mr Meddle a leading chance on both days of the meeting The Royal Garden's last start win Andrew Fitzgerald

This Fridays Taylor Mile is one of the most even fields you will see in a while. Won by Mossdale Connor last year, other stars to win this sort after race include, Christen Me, Terror To Love, Changeover and Elsu. While this year nobody really stands out above the others. After the scratching of Say My Name this morning the Dunn barn have Robbie Burns and Little Rascal engaged. Robbie Burns made an early mistake back on the 31st March, he lost close to 50m and was seen storming home behind Bettor Spirits in a quickly run affair. “Robbie Burns was super last start, he’s a great chance from his draw, and there isn’t much between them both” said John Dunn Little Rascal was another to make an early mistake last week and cost himself plenty of ground in a tidy field. They ran home in 55.2/27.4 off the front and he finished just in behind them after being 5L off them at the 400m. “Little Rascal’s run last week was a lot better then the form line reads, he’s been going nice races and I wouldn’t rule him out of a top 4 placing with a handy trip” said Dunn. Other Canterbury visitors Maverick (Nigel McGrath) and Field Marshal (Tim Butt) look strong chances. Maverick has been a revelation since joining Nigel McGrath’s barn; Owned by A J McGrath and breeders Ken and Anne Marie Spicer, this season Maverick has won 6 from 16, including 5 seconds. "Maverick has travelled up well, his bloods weren't right a while ago and we missed a trial so I’d expect him to improve on this weeks run. The 2700m is more his go" said McGrath. The Tim Butt trained and likely favourite Field Marshal, will look to continue his picket fence line after beating Locharburn last start. Drawn awkwardly on the second line, driver Dexter Dunn will have to at his very best to get the Art Major entire over the line in first place. Hug The Wind (Barry Purdon) and Bettor Spirits (Mike Berger) look the best of the Northerners chances, both have been in super form recently but have tough barriers to work from. While Prince Of Pops (Garlick/Telfer) and Risk (Andrew & Lyn Neal) have drawn perfectly in barriers 1 and 2 respectively. Australian My Kiwi Mate arrives on a flight late this week looking to qualify for the Harness Jewels. With Tact Tate likely to receive the Harness Jewels invite, trainer Craig Demmler will be hoping to qualify his runner through the Taylor Mile and Messenger Andrew Fitzgerald

It’s a battle that has many people talking and watching. Purdon/Rasmussen vs. Dunn. Dunn vs. Purdon/Rasmussen.   The power house stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen currently sit on 87 wins (as at 14 April) for the season. With the Auckland carnival about to swing into action, the blue with silver stars will no doubt be frequent visitors to the Alexandra Park birdcage. Last week the All Stars stable lined up 7 runners in Auckland, with 6 of those being 2yo fillies who contested a heat of the Magness Benrow Sire Stakes. They managed 2 wins from 2 races. This friday they will line up just the 2 runners at Alexandra Park with both expected to be leading chances. While the reinforcement’s aren’t far away, there is a small matter of the Invercargill Diamonds Day this Sunday. All Stars have 8 runners engaged including MacKenzie in the Southern Oaks and Heaven Rocks in the Group 2 Southern Supremacy.     Meanwhile Robert Dunn who is currently sitting on 84 wins, just 3 behind Purdon/Rasmussen, will have runners at Auckland on Friday night and Rangiora on Sunday afternoon. Dunn will line up 7 runners in 5 races at Alexandra Park with trotters Queen Kenny(Race 7) and Chevrons Sweetheart(Race 10) standing out as top chances. Queen Kenny is looking to complete her hatrick after two tidy wins lately and even off the 40m mark she is sure to be competitive once again. Maiden trotter Chevrons Sweetheart, a recent addition to Dunn’s Auckland stable, looks to have her share of ability after a tidy workout run at Rangiora on the 30th March. At Rangiora, Dunn will have 9 runners including handy 2yo Cobra Banner who is another new addition to the Woodend Stable after a tidy 4th behind All Stars pair Ultimate Machete & King Solomon. Beau Sancy, who was a tidy trial winner, joins the barn as Dunn looks to ramp up his assault on the Premiership Table. Well supported in his 3 runs for previous trainers Paul & Mitchell Kerr, Beau Sancy with the aid of a handy front line draw should be a nice each way bet.   The trainer’s premiership battle is certainly stepping up a notch and with just over 14 weeks of the season left, it is well worth keeping an eye on our two leading stables.   Andrew Fitzgerald

Last nights harness racing meeting at Addington Raceway saw the reappearance of one of the forgotten stars from the Robert Dunn barn in Say My Name. The now four year old son of Art Major was a high class two year old for the Dunn barn and looked as though he would be a major player in all the three year old classics last season. However injury followed Say My Name wherever he went and in two campaigns at three, he managed just four starts for not much return. It was at that point that it was discovered that Say My Name had a hairline fracture in his hock and he was put away for the season. Now halfway through his four year old season, Say My Name finally made his long awaited resumption in a junior drivers race at Addington last night and didn't disappoint with a performance right out of the top draw. Say My Name was allowed to settle back early  from his second row draw by driver Matt Purvis as Star Fantasy and Craig Ferguson set a hot tempo in front. Matt eased Say My Name into the running line at the 1800 metres mark and slowly worked his way around to the death seat by the 900 metres when Booster appeared out three wide and injected some real speed into the race. Star Fantasy and Say My Name eyeballed each other down the back in a quick 27.6 and just before they straightened for home Say My Name went to the front and never really looked like being run down. Nui Toc Tien who had trailed the whole way made a late dab at Say My Name but second was his lot and Usain Colt went his usual honest race in finishing third. Say My Name paced the 2600 metres in a swift 3:13.8, a mile rate of 1:59.9 with closing sectionals of 56.4 and 29 which was a great effort in the windy conditions. Back in the stable complex,John Dunn had a smile a mile wide. " I am just so relieved that he has got around in one piece." " He is such a good horse but he has had such a shocking run with injuries and setbacks." " He only had the one workout leading into tonight and that was after having twelve months on the sidelines so to win like that was just a reminder of how good he is." " I will line him up in the next two Premier nights at Addington and if he was to win those, he would be knocking on the door of entry to the Harness Jewels," John said.  Junior driver Matt Purvis was another impressed by last night's effort. " To do what he did tonight in those windy conditions was a top effort." " I just let him mooch around to the death seat in his own time but they were running along in front." " I was pretty confident going past the 800 metres that I was on the winner and he found plenty in the home straight when I asked him." "He is no where near his peak yet after twelve months off but he still gave me a great feel tonight," Matt said. The Robert Dunn barn have always held Say My Name in the highest regard and one can only hope that all their hard work in getting Say My Name back to the track is rewarded in the next few months. Harnesslink Media  

If all goes to plan, this Friday will herald the resumption in the Robert Dunn stable of the proven Group One star Franco Nelson at the harness racing meeting at Addington Raceway. Franco Nelson has been back with the stable for about a month and has pleased John Dunn with his progress since returning. With the fact that he had been racing against the best in Australasia before returning home - Victoria Cup and Hunter Cup - he hasn't taken a lot of work to get back to racing trim.  Friday's planned resumption is a C5-OC handicap over the 2600m. However, with only the five nominations at present, the race may struggle to get off the ground. This reflects again the dearth of opportunities for the open class horses and as a planned dress rehearsal for next week's Easter Cup is far from ideal.  Friday's race is also planned as the first start from the stable for Mighty Flying Mac that has joined the stable in the last few weeks. Formerly trained at West Melton by Cran Dalgety, it was felt that a change of scenery may be what the horse needed to return to his very best form that included a win in the Hannon Memorial back in September. John has been very happy with his progress and expects a big run this week. He too is on target for next week's Easter Cup. Courtesy of Robert Dunn Racing Stables   -   Check site here

Although there are only seven runners in tonights Young Guns heat at the harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park, the depth of the field is very strong with five of the runners having strong claims. The All Star barn has two entered in Pacing Major and More The Better and both are huge chances. They have provided the quinella in both the Sapling Stakes and the Kindergarten Stakes at their last two starts and look to be peaking nicely for the Young Guns Final next week. Pacing Major has beaten More The Better in his last two but More The Better has the better of the draws this week and it wouldn't surprise if he turned the tables on the stablemate. Both of the All Star runners were beaten at Alexandra Park in their debut runs and while they deserve to start favourite, there is plenty of class in the heat which will keep them honest. The three juveniles that stand in the way of an All Stars stable victory are headed by Vasari from the Ray Green barn who has drawn barrier one which makes him a serious player here. A winner earlier in the season in 2:03 for the 1700 metres showed he would be very competitive here but he needed a good draw as well in our opinion and he has got it. Billy Badger from the Robert Dunn barn is another smart juvenile drawn well tonight who after a couple of nice thirds, beat Pacing Major at the New Years Eve meeting at Alexandra Park. A last quarter in that race in 26.2 was further proof if any was needed that Billy Badger will be a major player in any race he starts in. Billy Badger looks the likely leader from barrier two and will give his supporters a good sight in front like he did at his last start. Mongolian Hero from the Paul Court stable has had the misfortune to draw the outside of the gate but that won't stop him playing a major role here. He has improved with every run this campaign and his third behind More The Better and Pacing Major at Addington where he was beaten by a margin of two heads after sitting parked for the last 1000 metres showed he is right up there with the best juveniles this season. Tonights heat of the Young Guns series should give us a much better idea of  the relative merits of five of the best two year olds going round this season, especially as the $100,000 Young Guns final is only a week away. Harnesslink Media

The harness racing amateur drivers event tonight at Addington Raceway had one highly credentialled runner incuded in the form of Mach Cruiser. Raced by the Westview Racing number 14 syndicate and trained by Robert Dunn, Mach Cruiser had nine wins on his card prior to tonight and had been racing in strong grade classes in Canterbury. Even though the gelding by Mach Three had drawn at barrier nine due to his classification, he was heavily supported to win the race. Part of the condition for a horse of his class to be eligible for the race was to have a claiming price attached which Westview Racing set at $5,000 The experienced and successful amateur Raymond Reekie was in the bike and everything went to plan as Mach Cruiser sped to the front and then proceeded to run the field off their feet. The 2600 metres from the mobile took a tick over 3:11 to complete which was too much for the lower graded competition and Mach Cruiser bolted in by 2 ¾ lengths. Ray Reekie, on the lookout for another horse to drive in the amateur races had lodged his claim for $5,000 before the race and was delighted to find out post race that his claim was the only one that had lodged a claim. However that joy turned to despair shortly after when the stewards told Ray Reekie that his claim for Mach Cruiser was not valid – and the reason--- because a driver of a horse in a race cannot claim a horse he is driving. So Westview Racing number 14 syndicate are still the proud owners of Mach Cruiuser. Their plans are still the same and Mach Cruiser will be put in the next $7500 amateur drivers race at Addington as a claimer. However after tonights demolition job in a swift 3:11, there just might be a few more claims lodged against Mach Cruiser at his next appearance than there was tonight.  Harnesslink Media

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