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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

As the New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale at Christchurch wound down yesterday, a lot of the public present stuck around. Even though it was quite uncomfortable in the steel shed in the 30 degree heat, the word was well and truly out that there would be plenty of fireworks on Lot 524, the second to last lot of the whole sale. The yearling in question is a colt by Art Major named Honor And Glory who is the third foal from the former New Zealand record holder in Breath Of Life 1:56.9 ($109,036). Her first foal Fight For Glory 1:52 ($651,212) needs no introduction and is a full sister to Honor And Glory while her second foal in G I Joe 1:59.3 was placed in Sires Stakes action this season. True to the rumours, Honor And Glory was the centre of a lot of buying interest as soon as he entered the ring. Big spending Australian couple Merv and Meg Butterworth were into the action early on as was leading trainer Robert Dunn. Unlike a lot of the six figure lots who slowed down once they passed the $100,000 mark, Honor And Glory kept on going and it wasn't until $170,000 that Robert Dunn decided enough was enough and let the Butterworths win this battle. Merv was typically understated in his comments after signing the sale docket. " He has a wonderful pedigree and presence and I was pretty determined that I was going to buy him prior to the sale," " He will be joining the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen team at Rolleston," Merv said. Well known Southland breeder and the vendor of Honor And Glory, Dianne Cournane was still shaking a bit post sale. " I was very nervous leading into the sale." " I had put a big reserve on him ($150,000) and was just hoping he made that," Dianne said. Honor And Glory has a lot to live up now with that sale tag around his neck but the outstanding success that Merv and Meg Butterworth have enjoyed with their expensive sales purchasers would suggest Honor And Glory has a good chance of repaying his purchase price. Harnesslink Media

The New Zealand Premier Sale at Christchurch was slow and patchy for nearly the first two hours today before Lot 211 walked into the ring. A colt by the champion sire Bettor's Delight from the In The Pocket mare Free As A Bird ($19,789), he attracted strong interest from the time he walked into the ring. Free As A Bird had just one winner beside her name on the catalogue page from her first three foals but the remainder of her pedigree is first class with the second dam Maikona having left several black type performers as had the third dam Paperback Writer. Bidding was brisk from the start and it wasn't long before six figures was reached. As to be expected the bidding slowed from there but at $130,000 Robert Dunn had won the battle and taken Styx Freedom home. What the pedigree page hadn't told us was that Robert had brought a half brother to Styx Freedom by Somebeachsomewhere at last years New Zealand Premier Sale for $100,000 and was that impressed he had come back for the half brother. “ It has been everything but plain sailing with last years buy.” “ The first thing he got was some ulcers in his mouth which stopped us breaking him in for six weeks.” “ Then we had an issue with him hanging the Auckland way round and we found he had bone chips in his hock so we had that tidied up.” “We gelded why he was out as he was getting a bit coltish and now he is about six weeks from the trials from our Auckland barn.” “ I think a lot of him and think he has a big future which is why we were so keen on his half brother,” Robert told Harnesslink this afternoon at the sale. Styx Freedom certainly has the looks of a smart horse in the flesh and impressed a lot of good judges today in the ring. Harnesslink Media

There have been times in the last twelve months when leading harness racing trainer Robert Dunn has began to wonder if the smart three three year old Alta Las Vegas is cursed with bad luck. The son of Bettor's Delight has always looked an elite level racehorse from the time he ran a close second in last seasons Sapling Stakes to Chase The Dream but a series of setbacks have stopped the talented three year old from building the race record that he is so obviously capable of. Robert is hoping the bad luck is now firmly behind him. " We just about lost him as a two year old." " John had to rush him to the vets in the middle of the night when he became really ill."  " We never really got to the bottom of what the problem was but it completely curtailed his two year old season." " This season he was building nicely heading into the Auckland Christmas carnival when he slipped coming off the float and struck himself." "It needed quite a few stitches and meant he missed the $200,000 yearling sale pace so his luck has been all bad todate,"  Robert told Harnesslink this morning. Given time to get over his latest setback, Alta Las Vegas impressed trackwatchers at the Franklin workouts last Saturday, cutting out the 2050 metres event in a 2:01 mile rate with closing sectionals of 56 and 27 and still looked to have more to offer. " He went super at the workouts last weekend and has improved off that so I think he will be very hard to beat tonight at Alexandra Park." " The only query I have is there is a bit of virus going around Pukekohe and I have had to scratch a couple but he has had the okay from the vet so we should be fine," Robert said. Safely through tonight, Robert has some big plans for Alta Las Vegas. "We have always thought that he was good enough to beat the best ones around so  we have an ambitious program mapped out for him." " There is a $30,000 race for him at the end of the month at Alexandra Park and then we are targeting the Northern Derby, New Zealand Derby, and the Harness Jewels so we are hoping his bad luck is behind him and we get to see the real Alta Las Vegas, " Robert said. Robert in our experience is never one to build up a horse unless he deserves it so Alta Las Vegas is a horse to keep safe in all the big three year old classics coming up Harnesslink Media

The annual summer meets at both Nelson and Marlborough have often proved happy hunting grounds for the Robert Dunn harness racing stable. A four win bag to Robert Dunn as a trainer and John Dunn as a driver has definitely started the two day Marlborough Harness Racing Club meeting on a superb note. There was a lot of confidence about 3yr old American Ideal filly American Tart's chances today on debut and she never looked out of second gear, despatching a handy field of maidens with ease. The winner of a trial and a workout recently, John rated American Tart as his best of the day and he drove her accordingly. Beaten for the early lead, she was given rein to go to the front at the 1900m. Once having assumed the front she was allowed to roll along, setting a strong tempo. At the 1400m, brother Dexter driving Runaway Star headed forward to find the breeze and thereafter, there were no further moves in the race. At the 400m, those two runners drew about three lengths clear of the field and at the 200m were locked together in battle. However, John was just kidding on the long striding filly and as soon as he went for her the response was instant, and at the line they were going away by an ever increasing two and a half lengths in a smart 2.49.2 for the 2300m journey. The final sectionals cut out in 800m 56.6 and 400m 28.1 suggest that this is a filly with a fair bit of class. American Tart is the first foal to race out of Redheadedwildflower, a one win mare raced out of the stable previously. She is raced by her breeder Rob Courtney, along with John and Peter McAlister. She will miss the second day of the meeting, instead being reserved for Invercargill Cup Day next Saturday. For a horse that took until his 7th start to win a race, Kotare Yael has now well and truly hit his straps, completing a hatrick of wins today at start nine of his career and taking his earnings to over the $17,000 mark. Raced by his breeders Tony and Gay Abell and Kotare Downs, he showed some real ticker to get home today after being obliged to race parked for the last 1300m of the race, outside the pacemaker Bella Jones. While vulnerable to those coming off his back John never panicked sitting one out and his charge appeared to relax beautifully and was on a tight rein turning for home. He immediately mastered Bella Jones once in the straight and after putting a two length buffer on the field at the 200m fought tenaciously to win by a neck over Nek Time, with a further half neck back to Chip Ganassi in third. The full journey was run in 2.50.9 and with the final sectionals cut out in 800m 57.2 and 400m 27.9, it was hard for those coming from the back to make an impression. Kotare Yael will now tackle a C2 - C2 assignment on the second day and while he is fast climbing the classes, he is sure to give a good account again from a favourable draw. Dalness Xchange was big on both days at Nelson and again put in a top effort today against C2 - C3 company. After settling midfield early on from her second line draw, she was awakwardly placed four back on the markers at the 1300m. However, with a strong pace set up front by Expressive Victor, that was strongly attended down the back by favourite Innocent Artist, the gaps always looked likely to come. At the 400m John was able to extricate from a tight spot and peeled four wide coming into the straight. While he still had a bit of work to reel in the leaders, once she flattened out, the Changeover 4yr old stormed home over the top of her opposition and at the line was a comfortable winner by one and a quarter lengths in a smart 2.48.2 for the 2300m.   Today's win was the third in an eight start career and she is doing a superb job for Dave and Mrs Heather King. She will now deservedly take her place in the cup on Sunday and while this is a huge step up in company, she does appear the type of mare that can make the necessary improvement. The final of the four stable winners for the day was good three year old Bite The Bullet. After a nice win at Nelson and then a hard fought second on day two he was confidently expected to deliver today. However, the bad luck that he has with the draws continued and he had to be good to come from the back to deliver win two of his career. John allowed the Mach Three 3yr old the chance to settle early and he was well back with a lap to go as second favourite Crackabella dominated up top. He made his move down the back straight with about 800m to go and was level pegging with Crackabella from the 400m. Turning in and the two settled down for a good fight. It was only from the 100m that Bite The Bullet gained the ascendancy and went to the line a good winner by three quarters of a length in 2.51.5 for the 2300m over Crackabella, with Coringa Delight a fast finishing third. Bite The Bullet will line up in C1 company again on day two, after a free win today. The bad luck with the draw continues after drawing eight. Other top efforts by stable runners today included: Angel Of Destiny - a nice third on debut  Graduate Under Fire and Joey Maguire - 3rd and 4th in the day's feature the cup prelude Meanwhile Dexter also got a big piece of the action today with three wins - Alpha Rock and Kompressor for the Cran Dalgety stable and Santorini Sunset for Kevin Townley in the day's feature trot. Dexter now goes to 97 in the drivers' premiership, with John a clear second on 54 wins. The Purdon/Rasmussen team hold a seven win lead in the trainers premiership over Robert Robert Dunn Racing Stables  -  Check site here

Christian Cullen 6yr old Callenberg has always enjoyed a bit of a reputation in the Robert Dunn stable, but has often been one bereft of luck in his races. However, with four solid runs to start his current campaign, there was a fair bit of confidence in the camp going into today's contest for the junior drivers at Oamaru Raceway. At his last start at Motukarara, Callenberg was badly squeezed at the start of his race, losing much of his front line advantage right away. He then did work in the race, before finishing a nice 5th behind a very much in form Lightning Mach. That was enough to rate him a very strong chance in today's race. Allowed to stay out of the early rush for positions, a succession of lead changes saw Callenberg parked for the last 1200m of the 2000m contest. On a day dominated by runners near the front, it was a very confident Matt Purvis that sent Callenberg for home at the 250m. While he had done all the work in the breeze and was vulnerable to runners coming off his back, he showed a real tenacity in the run to the line, winning by a convincing three and a quarter lengths in 2.40.29. It was the closing sectionals that were most telling running home in 800m 58.5 and 400m 27.9. Today's win was Callenberg's third from 20 starts and takes his stakes won to over $20,000. In his current vein of form, he is sure to pick up another win in C2 company pretty quick, today's being win being penalty free. For his driver Matt Purvis, today's win was his 5th from just the 51 starts this season. While having limited opportunities, Matt is certainly driving with a lot of maturity this season. Robert Dunn Racing Stables - Check site here

Harness racing trainer Robert Dunn and son John Dunn have well and truly dominated the first day of the Nelson Harness Racing Clubs summer meeting at Nelson today. Four wins early in the meeting with a couple of seconds later in the day showed the Dunn barn were on track to have another big day on Sunday. Kotare Yael set the ball rolling in race 2 with a tough win in which John drove him aggressively right from the start and got him home for a narrow but overdue victory. The same went for race three where high class three year old Bite The Bullet was way too strong even after starting from barrier nine at the gate, clearing out in the straight. John then rattled off his third winner in three races when Kotare Kasai upset them with an inch perfect drive which saw the mare get home by just a nose. Even after John and Robert had won three in a row, they were let go again a couple of races later when Daleness Xchange bolted in at eleven to one in race six. A second with Joey Maguire with Ross Haughton in the bike was followed by a smart second by Grauate Under Fire with John on board in the Nelson Cup Prelude behind the very talented Rocker Band who is not backing up on Sunday which brings Graduate Under Fire right into line for the Nelson Cup. John Dunn was happy with todays run. "He's has stuck on really well today and I was very happy with the run. "If he steps away on Sunday and gets a run like he did today, I think he is a big winning chance in the Cup." "He always gives his best as he is so honest which always makes him a chance," John said. The Greg and Nina Hope training partnership also won a couple on the day along with three placings which suggests that the Dunn partnership won't have it all its own way on Sunday. Harnesslink Media  

We have become so accustomed to Bettor's Delight dominating our harness racing age group classics that it comes as a bit of a surprise when he was completely shut out of the placings in a Young Guns heat at Alexandra Park this afternoon. Pacing Major from the All Stars barn was all the rage with punters, going out at the prohibitive odds of $1:30 John Dunn sent the well performed Billy Badger forward from barrier three to claim the early lead and kept up a steady tempo early. Natalie Rasmussen settled Pacing Major in the one by one early before moving to the parked position with 1100 metres to go. These two went together without getting serious until 400 metres from home where the speed really went on. Billy Badger had a length to spare with 100 metres to go but Pacing Major was taking ground off him the whole time but was still half a head in arrears at the line. Triple Play was 5 3/4 lengths away in third place The 1700 metres was cut out in a very quick 2:03.9, a mile rate of 1:57.3 with closing sectionals of 56.2 and the last 400 metres in a very quick 26.2 The Robert Dunn trained Billy Badger is bred to be well above average. He is by leading sire Art Major and is the first foal of the Badlands Hanover mare Lady Antebellum who is a daughter of the former outstanding Ann Other Porsche who took a mark of 1:51.6 in North America on the way to earning $791,575 Art Major has had to live in the shadow of Bettor's Delight in the last few years but in Billy Badger and Pacing Major, he looks to have a couple of high class juveniles capable of upsetting the Bettor's Delight juggernaut. Harnesslink Media

A profitable start to the summer got a whole let better for Cullect A Guinness on Sunday afternoon at Rangiora Raceway as he dominated a very good field to win the Summer Cup by an impressive five and a half lengths. Backed into favourite for today's cup over the 2600m on the grass, Cullect A Guinness made a great beginning from his 10m handicap and was soon up disputing the pace as they headed down the straight for the first time. After a brief tussle for the lead with Jerry Garcia he was able to take the front with just under a lap to go and then dominated the race from the top as he had done at Oamaru a fortnight ago. Going down the back straight he faced some fresh challenges from first Royal Counsel and then Star Of Dionysis, but he always looked to be travelling well within himself. Turning for home, all chasers appeared flat and when driver John Dunn asked him for the supreme effort at the 200m, the response was instant. The further he went, the bigger the gap became. Star Of Dionysis for tenaciously for his second placing, as too did Royal Counsel for third. Stablemates The Royal Garden (5th) and Mach Cruiser (8th), were both seen running home with purpose in the straight. Today's win was the 6th from just 13 starts for the Gotta Go Cullect 5yr old. With a further five placings also, he is doing a tremendous job for his owner/breeder, Peter Higinbottom, having banked just under $40,000. There are few more genuine pacers going around in the Canterbury region at the moment than this fellow, which has graduated to C5 with today's win, meaning that a coast campaign would seem unlikely, but will be something that Robert and John will be discussing. Well done to Peter, John and Robert on a great win, which tops off a very good weekend for the Robert Dunn stable with the four wins overall. Robert Dunn Racing Stables  -  Check site here

Each week the talent seems to be increasing with the influx of southerners to the north. Friday night at Alexandra Park was no exception and for the Robert Dunn stable represented a great night at the office. Things started really well with a winning turn for Little Rascal in Race Two. Allowed to go out at the ridiculous odds of 12-1, Little Rascal was eased from his wide draw early. However, John assessed the situation perfectly allowing the Panspacificflight 4yr old to go the front with a lap to go. Once in front, John was able to dictate the pace with strong sectionals that had most struggling turning for home. He was able to retain a strong pace to the line, completing the 2200m in 2.44.2, the last 800m in 56.6 400m in 27.4, winning by 3/4 length over the deadheaters in Alta Leroy and favourite Stroke Of Luck. The win was his 6th from 25 starts and with a further 10 placings he has been a great purchase for owner Ian Dobson, now having bankrolled $74,839. There are no set plans for Little Rascal and he will continue racing over the next few weeks of the carnival. With his great manners and ability to come from on or off the pace, he will continue to be competitive. Later in the programme it was a very welcome return to the winning circle for Robbie Burns. A horse that has always possessed above average ability, Robbie Burns has been plagued by any number of problems throughout his career. This win then was so satisfying to his very patient owners Ross and Angela Gordon and to trainer RJ. Away well from his handy frontline draw, Robbie Burns was in front after 400m. Facing little pressure throughout he was able to dictate terms to his liking and did look a winner a long way out. "He felt good mate and did do it pretty easy," was John's reaction when I spoke to him last night. The 2200m was run in a very strong 2.42.9, but with closing sectionals of 800m 56.5 and 400m in 27.5, it was little wonder that few of his rivals were able to make much of an impression in the closing stages. The win was Robbie Burns 4th from just the 11 starts, for $33,919. Like Little Rascal he will just continue to work his way through the classes. We look to seeing more of the winning way from this fella. Other efforts of note on the night included: * Alta Las Vegas, a very good 4th in top 3yr old company after being off the gate at the start.  * Whitney, another top run for 2nd behind a smart one in Paramount Dream. Surely there is no more conistent trotter going around. * Art Critic, was seen to be finding the line really well for 5th, beaten just 5 lengths by The Orange Agent. Courtesy of Robert Dunn Racing Stables   -   Check site here

Bereft of any real luck through cup week, The Royal Garden turned around his poor fortunes at Methven on Sunday courtesy of another Gavin Smith "special." After beginning brilliantly from his 10m handicap, The Royal Garden soon became awkwardly positioned four back on the rails. With a strong tempo set up front by John and stablemte Return To Sender, there were limited moves in the race and coming to the home turn luck and good judgement would be a major factor in any success. After initially pushing off the rails as they turned for home, Gavin reassessed his options again working for an inside run. The astute reinsman would once again be rewarded for good judgement as runs appeared up the long Methven straight. As the lead runners tired inside the last 150m the gap appeared and the the 5yr old Mach Three gelding charged through to win going away by 3/4 length in 3.08.2 for the 2400m stand. This was his 5th win from 18 starts for owners, T W J Patterson, K E Patterson, M T Patterson, M J Ward, M T Wojtas. With nearly $36,000 in the bank, he has done a great job. With his stand start manners generally able to be used to good effect, he should be an easy horse to place for his summer assignments. Reproduced with permission of Robert Dunn Racing Stables    -   Check site here

After running 8th in last week's New Zealand Trotting Cup for the Robert Dunn stable, No Doctor Needed is now northern bound and will continue his racing career under the guidance of Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick at Papakura. No Doctor Needed raced 27 times out of the Woodend Beach stable and recorded nine wins and eight placings for just over $121,000 in stake-earnings. Robert advised today that principal owner Scott Plant had suggested a change of driver for the horse after his unplaced run in the cup and favoured northern reinsman Scott Phelan in this role. As Phelan is a regular driver for the Telfer/Garlick stable it made sense that the horse be relocated to the north. Plant already has a number of horses trained by the partnership as too does another owner in Steve Stockman through his role with Stonewall Stud. Robert wishes the connections all the best for their future racing of "The Doctor." Robert Dunn Racing Stables   -    Check site here

While he has been beaten by just over six lengths and has finished in 7th place, No Doctor Needed has probably produced a career best effort in yesterday's Ashburton Flying Stakes, a race won by New Zealand Cup favourite Smolda. To put it simply he made an absolute hash of the start and settled down a mile off the leaders that included Tiger Tara, Ohoka Punter and Smolda. After 600m of the 2400m contest he was about six seconds off leader Tiger Tara. While there was some let-up in the frenetic pace up front from the 1600m mark to the 1200m mark, it was only really at the 1200m that No Doctor Needed was able to join the tailend of the field. 400m later and the pace was again being applied up front. Not surpisingly, as the field turned for home No Doctor Needed was still last and in tight quarters. However, the biggest surprise after the run he had had was that the last 200m was probably his best, powering past four runners and finishing just six lengths off winner Smolda. Because of how far he was off the leaders early, it was hard to actually get his sectionals on the day, but he appears to have run a 1.52 last mile, home in his last 800m in 53. The question now is will he get a start in this year's cup? Tomorrow's updated rankings will make interesting reading and surely after yesterday's run he must be close to making the top 15. The Flying Stakes as a race was everything that it always is, speed, action and the best lead-up to the cup. Smolda was superb in taking the win and clearly deserves to be the cup favourite for this year. Ohoka Punter lost no admirers with his tough run for second, while Mossdale Conner and Tiger Tara were both big efforts after going toe-toe over the first 800m. The other notable run was northerner Sky Major who was doing his best work late, finishing three lengths off the winner. While there is still uncertainty over Christen Me being ready for cup day, what is sure is that this year's cup field will be the most even contest for many years. On their day there are any number of runners that are capable of taking the coveted prize in a cup that is just 14 days away. Robert Dunn Racing Stables  -  Check site here

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