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The following is a review of the Robert Dunn Racing Stables runners over the three meetings last weekend. Auckland - Friday night While there was only a small team engaged at Auckland Friday, they still produced a winner from the three starters, in Culinary Delight. In what appeared to be a handy line-up, the daughter of Lis Mara and Culinary Affair dominated from the start for driver Tony Herlihy. After having them all of the bit at the 400m the 5yr old ran out a convincing winner by 4 lengths in 2.43 for the 2200m, coming home in 800m 56.8  and 400m 28.5 for owners the Forrests. This was her third win from 31 starts and she has now banked $28,390 in stakes. Based on Friday's performance this won't be the last winning run. Later in the night it was the turn of the trotters, with Whitney and All Royal Gal lining up. Unfortunately All Royal Gal did as she did last week, blowing it at the start. Whitney however stepped like a toff for driver Jack MacKinnon and enjoyed a perfect run three back before being asked for her best effort from the 400m. After looming up on the turn and then hitting the lead at the 200m she was run down over the last 100m by a very impressive One Ova Da Moon in what turned out to be a sprint home. Whitney is racing in top form and is another stable runner set to deliver at short notice. Addington - Friday night The first runner for the night was Art Critic for Matt in the boys' race. Having drawn poorly, she was obliged to race back in the field. While she made some real ground with purpose in the straight, she was never going to figure on the back of a run home in 800m 54.3 and 400m 26.2. She will certainly keep for another week and looks in for a good campaign. Cullect A Guinness always looked the best chance for the night and did his best to justify the strong support. From his inside barrier he had the pace to hold the lead, but did have to work hard over the first 200m. Once in front he was able to dictate the pace, running some strong sectionals to have most of the opposition battling turning for home. He appeared to have the race in the bag at the 150m, but succumbed over the past 50m to the finish of 165-1 outsider Northview Gambler and Stevie Golding. He is certainly "Mr Consistency" this guy and surely his turn will come. Uncas was at long odds in the feature trot and after adding to his handicap with an early break was obliged to do a lot of chasing to catch the pack. He eventually worked home well to finish about nine lengths off winner Quite A Moment. Sires Stakes hopeful Alta Las Vegas stepped out for the first time this season in what was a very handy field of 3yr olds. From his bad draw he raced back in the field early before working to the breeze from the 1300m outside He Can Fly. After eyeballing that runner from the 400m he was able to take a shotlived lead at the 200m. However, favourite Wannabet had enjoyed a perfect trailling run throughout and once able to take the passing lane went on to a convincing victory. Alta Las Vegas battled hard for his second placing and will be a lot better for the run going into next week. The final hope of a win on the night rested with Littke Rascal and Living Legend in the last. Living Legend had a dig for the lead at the 1300m and nearly crossed. However, pacemaker Webb  Ellis was able to kick back underneath leaving Living Legend breezing and then one-one. Little Rascal however, was well back from his awkward second line draw. At the 400m Living Legend began to lose contact while Little Rascal was gambling on inside runs. After finally finding some room at the 150m he stormed home for the most unlucky of 4th placings beaten just over one length. He was certainly the most unlucky of all stable runners on the night.  Methven - Sunday Afternoon There were just the two stable runners that headed to Methven today and both delivered very creditable placings.  Bourbon And Dry contested the maiden trot, a trot that is picked to deliver many maiden winners over the next few weeks. Today Bourbon And Dry never put a foot wrong, stepping well and running to the lead, before handing up and trailling eventual winner Majestic Ali. He travelled well throughout and coming to the passing lane momentarily looked a real winning hope. However, he just battled over the last 100m, sticking on strongly for a very good third placing. No Doctor Needed was backed in strongly on the day and went out as third favourite in the day's feature the Methven Cup. He began well from his 10m handicap and drove to the lead after 500m before trailling Mach Gladiator which would lead throughout.  Coming to the turn No Doctor Needed looked to be travelling well behind a hard driven Mach Gladiator. However, once in the straight it was the sweeper out wide in favouirte Messini that came with an undeniable claim to run out a convincing winner by a half length from strong finisher Quick As A Trick that outfinished No Doctor Needed for second. John and Robert will no doubt look at their plans for the next couple of weeks, but it is most likely that we will see No Doctor Needed at Ashburton for the Flying Stakes in 8 days time. The other performnace of note from a stable point of view was Music in the boys' race. Given a chance at a "change of scenery" by trainer Bruce Negus, Music had been with the Woodend stable for just two weeks. While the formline made grim reading and he appeared unwanted on the tote, going out at 40-1 odds, driver Matt Purvis said he was, "very bullish" on the Lis Mara 5yr old's chances today. After getting a nice trip throughout he loomed up to challenge on the turn before cruising to the lead at the 200m. From there it was a all plain sailing as Purvis and Music bolted in by nearly three lengths. "Nice horse and jogged it," was the after race summation. Today's win was Music's 4th from 41 starts, while for driver Matt, it was his second win for the season from just 24 drives.  Courtesy of Robert Dunn Racing Stables    -    Check site here

It was announced last  night on Trackside that the runner up in last years New Zealand Cup, Franco Nelson had suffered a pedal bone injury which has brought his tilt at this years New Zealand Cup to a halt. Details were sketchy but it appears he will have several months on the sideline while he recuperates under the care of his trainer Michael House. His NZ Cup heroics last year when he was caught in the last stride by Adore Me which he followed with an outstanding run in the New Zealand Free For All displayed the high class racehorse that he is. Nursed through that campaign by his then trainer Robert Dunn, Franco Nelson looked to have it all in front of him but sadly his form fell away on a northern campaign due to recurring foot issues . Franco Nelson has always been troubled by foot issues throughout his career which is why he had been moved to the Dunn barn on the beach in the first place. Then to everybody's surprise in the industry, the owners Clive and Rona McKay moved Franco Nelson from  the Dunn stable to the Michael House barn. Reappearing at the trials from the House barn in September, Franco Nelson ran an okay fourth first up at the Addington trials  but his two follow up trials were very poor, finishing last on both occasions. Time was already running out to have Franco Nelson ready for a grueling two miles in the New Zealand Cup and his withdrawal now due to an injury is a shame as he would have added something to the New Zealand Cup which is down a bit on quality this year. Lets hope Franco Nelson can come through this latest problem and make it back to the racetrack in the future. Harnesslink Media    

Tonight at the harness racing meeting at Addington Raceway, we will see the debut performance of the very smart three year old, Freedom Fighter. A son of Courage Under Fire, Freedom Fighter went through the 2014 New Zealand Premier Sale at Christchurch where he changed hands for $48,000 The vendor Brian West of Studholme Park had a lot of time for the colt and arranged to be part of the syndicate that was formed to race the horse by the purchaser Robert Dunn. Freedom Fighter had half a dozen starts at trials and workouts at two against some of the best two year olds around and was always competitive but was put aside to mature Now a three year old, Freedom Fighter has been burning up the trial tracks in Canterbury lately with his last effort at Rangiora especially noteworthy when he came home in 56 and 26.5 for an easy 6 1/2 length win. Tonight on his debut he will face some really nice horses such as Articulight, Imola and Linton Shard but he looks to have all the attributes to make a winning debut.  Driver John Dunn has a good opinion of Freedom Fighter. " He is a really nice horse and I think he will be hard to beat tonight." " His run at the last workouts was very good and I'm going in pretty confident," John said. Any good horse that is running sectionals like Freedom Fighter has at the trials recently always attracts the attention of the bloodstock agents and it is no different here. " There has been quite a bit of interest in him but he hasn't been sold at this stage." " The agents are keen to watch him run tonight and then make a decision," John said. With the aid of barrier one, Freedom Fighter looks very hard to beat here in what is shaping as his only start for the Dunn barn Harnesslink Media  

Michael House is optimistic Franco Nelson is on right on track for November 10. The Christian Cullen 6-year-old made his first public appearance for House at the Rangiora trials on Wednesday since being transferred from the Robert Dunn stable. Franco Nelson is injury free after having surgery three months ago to remove a bone chip from a back leg and House is hoping he can go one better than his second behind Adore Me in the New Zealand Trotting Cup last year. After his heroics during Cup Week, when he also ran third in the Group I New Zealand free-for-all, Franco Nelson was plagued by issues. He has not won a race since using his blinding sprint to win the 4-year-old Emerald back in May 2014. Franco Nelson pinged away from the tapes at Rangiora and House was leading heading into the first bend despite his 30m handicap. "He's a very fast horse saved for one run, he's not a leader, but he started that good I didn't have a choice," House said. House kept him under a strong hold in the final 150m to finish fourth in a more than satisfactory return. "It's not ideal to have other horses run past you, but I wasn't going to knock him around in his first run back," he said. House was happy with the hit out and said Franco Nelson would return to the trials at Addington on Monday, but a comeback race had not yet been decided. "He's only about 80 per cent fit but there is plenty of time and I think we're in a good place," House said. Anthony Butt will return home from Victoria to drive Franco Nelson in the cup. Saveapatrol came up the passing lane after trailing Franco Nelson to beat a gutsy No Doctor Needed by a nose, with Tiger Tara flying home late for third a further length back. No Doctor Needed sat parked for most of the last half mile and was still making ground on Saveapatrol at the post. Saveapatrol paced the 2600m in 3-24.9 with a mile rate of 2-06.8 and closing sectionals of 55.5 and 26.9. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with the permission of Stuff NZ - Check site here  

The middle of winter is not usually the place to launch a talented horse on his harness racing career but such is the case tonight with the debut run of the smart two year old Franco Cristiano in race one at Addington. This great looking son of Bettor's Delight was purchased out of last years New Zealand Premier sale for $92,500 after Robert Dunn saw the sales video of the colt from the Spreydon Lodge draft. " As soon as I saw the video, where he looked a quality horse, I went and inspected him and was really impressed and ended up buying him," Robert told Harnesslink today Not only is Franco Cristaino a good looker but he has the pedigree to go with it. Franco Cristiano is from a daughter of the outstanding broodmare Cherubic who left eight winners and all were black print winners and her daughters have bred on as well. It has not been all plain sailing since his purchase at the sales. " He was quite hard to get going actually." "Gavin (Burgess) who breaks all of mine in had a lot of problems getting him to pace and we had to pull his hopples right up to get him to function." "When he came back into the stable he was better, but he just didn't have any confidence so we took our time with him." "We qualified him and gave him another wee break and he has come back in  this time like the horse we always thought he could be." " He is not foolproof yet but he is getting there." " He is a horse that feels like he has a lot of bottom to him and he should develop into a really smart three and four year old," Robert said. With John in Auckland driving the northern team tonight at Alexandra Park, the plum drive on Franco Cristiano has fallen to stable reinsman Sam Ottley and going by his recent trial at Rangiora he should make his debut a winning one tonight at Addington. Harnesslink Media

Harnes racing trainer Steve Dolan has put his neck on the chopping board and come up with fillet steak. The Russley trainer took a punt when starting smart filly Tintinara in the Timaru Winter Cup on Sunday, but his confidence has paid off. Tintinara's previous 13 starts were all from behind the mobile but Dolan was confident his filly would step from the stand. He was right. Tintinara's blistering win over the 2600m stopped the clock at 3-16.9, just seven tenths of a second outside Miss Elsie's national record for a three-year-old filly of 3.16.2 set back in 2011. Her mile rate was 2-01.8 and the last quarter in 28.8 was impressive with no serious challengers pushing her. "I'm absolutely rapt with her, she's going from strength to strength," Dolan said. The only three-year-old in the field, Tintinara, had run most of the field off their feet before they turned for home, but with 200m to run she found another gear to increase her lead to three and a half lengths at the post. "He's a god given talent that boy," Dolan said after Dexter Dunn's perfectly rated front running drive. "He's deserving to be the world's best driver right now."  "We're really fortunate and I thank my lucky stars that we have someone like him in our hemisphere and in our lifetime to be driving our horses because he makes a big, big difference." Tintinara pinged off the tapes from her unruly mark to find the lead halfway through the first bend. Dunn poured the pace on and in the words of commentator Matt Cross, had the field "strung out like sausages on a butcher's hook" after three quarters of a lap. Such was the tempo, the field only bunched up when they went past the winning post with a lap to run. Boomer Bailey clung on for second from the trail and Sandvik Star was one of few who made ground to finish third. Favourite Naughty Maravu was never able to get close from his 20m handicap and ran on for seventh. Sunday's victory was win number five for Tintinara in just 14 starts for owners and breeders Terry and Adrienne Taylor. Dolan is pleased to have the promising filly in his stable and said she will be back next year to have a crack at some of the four-year-old mares races. The Taylor's bred the filly by Falcon Seelster out of their mare Arden's Fame who was winless from 12 starts. Tintinara was the first ballet for the three-year-old Diamond at the Harness Jewels. She is now likely to head to Ashburton for a C2-C4 fillies and mares mobile over 2400m on July 19. In the opening race of the day, Robert Dunn brought up a century of training wins for the season when Mr Meddle won the amateur drivers race in the hands of Daniel Reardon. It is the second season in a row that the Dunn stable has gone past 100 winners and it is on track to go past last years personal best of 103. Mat Kermeen Reprinted with the permission of Fairfax New Zealand

Since the inception of the Met Multiplier in the 2012/13 harness racing season a total of 67 pacers or trotters have won the bonus equating to a total pay-out of over half a million dollars.   26 have won the bonus this season. Each bonus is $7,500 with $5,000 going to the owners and $2,500 to the trainer.   Leading the way with eight bonuses is prominent trainer Robert Dunn with his winners taking home an additional $60,000 on top of stakes won.   His last runner to earn the bonus was the five year old mare She’s Got It who put her foot in the till on 22 May.   Bruce Hutton with five comes in next followed by Mark Jones and Murray Edmonds with three bonuses each.   There are plenty of trainers who have managed to win two Met Multipliers including Mike Austin, John Bromley, Jim Curtin, Kevin Townley, Phil Burrows, Brad Mowbray and John McDermott.   The scheme is designed to encourage trainers to support the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club (NZMTC) with a lucrative incentive for the connections.   To earn a Met Multiplier a horse has to start at a NZMTC meeting a minimum of 15 times over a 12 month rolling period and be placed 1st or dead heat for 1st in one of those qualifying starts.   So that means that your horse has 12 months to have the 15 starts and gain one win from when it first starts at a NZMTC meeting. E.g. A horse that has its first start at Addington on 1 June 2015 must have a minimum of 15 starts at NZMTC meetings and be placed first in one of those starts by 31 May 2016.   Horses that have had more than 15 starts and are yet to win can still qualify as long as they win a race within their 12 month period and at the same time satisfy the 15-start criteria within that time period.   Full details and conditions of The Met Multiplier Reward can be found under the Racing - Promotions and Incentives section at addington.co.nz or contact Brian, Richard or Colin at the Addington Racing Department on (03) 338 9094.   Ged Mooar Marketing & Commercial Manager Addington

Harness racing is a hard business at the best of times but when horses are removed from one stable and shifted to another, there is always a bit of ill feeling involved regardless of how well  it is handled. Last November the Robert Dunn stable went really close to winning another New Zealand Cup when Franco Nelson missed by the barest of margins from holding out Adore Me. Another top run in the New Zealand FFA cemented Franco Nelson's arrival as a genuine grand circuit horse. Unfortunately foot issues then played havoc with the star pacers season and as a result he has missed most of the big races since that great week in November. Owners Clive, Sharon and Rona McKay recently made the decision to move the son of Christian Cullen to the Michael House barn. " The main reason we moved Franco Nelson to Michael's is that there is a vet on the property full time to help with Franco Nelson's foot problems" "We knew Robert would be upset by the decision but we have to do what we think is best for the horse." "Robert and John have been very good to us which made the decision even harder," Rona McKay told Harnesslink this afternoon. Robert Dunn was philosophical about losing the stable star. " I was pretty upset at the time although I don't blame Clive or Rona." " Franco Nelson does have a lot of ongoing issues but we thought we were getting on top of them. " After all the work we put into the horse, it is disappointing to lose the horse like this," Robert said.  The open class ranks are a bit thin at the moment and Franco Nelson would be a welcome sight back on the racetrack. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing can be cruel at times with injury stopping a lot of horses fulfilling their potential. One horse that would fit that description to a tee is Boom Gate. The five year old son of Courage Under Fire was a super impressive winner on debut when he took out the Sapling Stakes as a two year old but it has been far from plain sailing ever since. Soundness issues have restricted his appearances to the point that tonight he was just having start number seventeen. Now with Robert Dunn on the beach, Boom Gate has impressed his new trainers and they were confident of a forward showing tonight at Addington. Away well from barrier nine for driver John Dunn, Boom Gate worked to the front after 400 metres and kept up a solid tempo in front. John Dunn let him run from the 800 metres and as they turned for home the only challenger was Nevertheless who had had the trail the whole way. Boom Gate sprinted away at the 200 metres mark and went to the line an easy winner by 1 3/4 lengths over Nevertheless with Livura running into third. Boom Gate cut out the 2600 metres in 3:14.2, a mile rate of 2:00.1 with closing sectionals of 57.7 and 28.4. Driver John Dunn was full of praise for Boom Gate post race. " He did that fairly easily to be honest." "He has always been a smart horse but injury has blighted his career,"  John said. It hasn't all been plain sailing since he joined the Dunn camp either. " The first time we worked him up he went sore on us so we had to stop. " We gave him a couple of months out and started again and it has all gone smoothly this time."  " We will just take him day by day at the moment but that won't be his last win if he stays sound," John said. The Dunn barn deserves all the kudos they get for getting Boom Gate back to the track and hopefully he can fulfill his early promise. Harnesslink Media

This seasons harness racing two year olds have been competing in heats of the Young Guns series since before Xmas and the best of both the colts and fillies run in their respective finals on Friday night.. We plan to preview them both and first up is the colts and geldings final. $100,000 Young Guns Colts and Geldings Final 1) Lazarus - Colt by Bettors Delight   -   Trainers - Mark Purdon * Natalie Rasmussen Two starts for two wins late last year stamped this colt as a very smart juvenile. In both of his races Lazarus drew badly but on both occasions he overcame the draw to win in style. After a short break he can be expected to come back even better and looms as one of the two leading chances, especially from the draw. 2) El Jacko - Gelding by Elsu   -   Trainers - Logan Hollis * Shane Robertson Two starts in his debut season for two sixths. Hasn't disgraced himself in either race but hasn't threatened the placegetters either Hard to make a case for him as a first four player. 3) Code Black - Colt by Bettors Delight   -   Trainer - Robert Dunn One of the more experienced horses in the final with his four starts yielding one win and two fourths. Has beaten most of the field at various times this season outside of the two favourites. Definite trifecta and first four player but hard to see him beating the All Stars pair. 4) Max Phactor - Colt by Art Major   -   Trainer - Mike Berger Beat the older horses on debut at Cambridge in the first of his four starts this season. Has been competitive but not compelling in his three races since. Does have good gate speed but hard to see him finding the front with Lazarus drawn inside of him. Has yet to beat Walkinshaw in three attempts so hard to see him beating the favoured pair here. First four player only for us. 5) Chase The Dream - Colt by Bettors Delight   -   Trainers - Mark Purdon * Natalie Rasmussen Stunning debut win at Ashburton in the Sapling Stakes in 1:54.8 was followed by an equally impressive win last week at Alexandra Park where after being last early, he looped the field midrace and then ran away and hid in the straight in a 1:57.3 mile rate. Has shown real gate speed at trials in Canterbury so can go forward from better draw this week. One of the two leading chances for us. 6) Walkinshaw - Colt by Mach Three   -   Trainer - Tony Herlihy Started the season with a tidy run for fifth first up and has got better with every run since. Nice win two starts back and smart second to Chase The Dream last week after leading from barrier seven. Just appears a touch behind the All Stars pair but looks the best of the rest to us. Tony Herlihy in the bike is a big plus for us. 7) Mach Time - Gelding by Mach Three   -   Trainers - Steve Telfer * Chris Garlick Very inexperienced horse who was having his debut run last week when he ran fourth to Chase The Dream. Held in very high regard by his trainers but draw and lack of raceday experience are big negatives for us. Can run first four with a run to suit.  8) Dark Energy - Colt by Bettors Delight   -   Trainer - Tony Herlihy His two runs to date have resulted in a fourth and a fifth and both times from favourable inside draws. His draw of eight and the strength of the field makes it very hard to see him as a player here. Not for us Selections The All Stars duo look to have a class edge over this field and the big decision is which one of the two do we favour. Most pundits are leaning towards Lazarus from the draw, but we have gone with the stablemate Chase The Dream. His two runs to date have been outstanding and last weeks look at Alexandra Park will have helped him bigtime. Lazarus has all the ringcraft of a natural two year old and could just as easily beat Chase The Dream but either way there will not be much in it. Walkinshaw is a clear third for us on the back of his last couple of runs andTony Herlihy in the bike. For first fours we like Code Black, Max Phactor and Mach Time. Harnesslink Media 

On paper, it looked like the Robert Dunn team number of chances at last nights harness racing meeting at Addington and so it proved. Overall there were three winning performances - Sheer Classs, Nikola and Maximum Power, while there were placings also with Little Lion Man (2nd to Nikola) and K C Monet. Sheer Class started the night on a positive note with a win in the amateurs for Ray Reekie. A bad draw and and a tough run wide for the last lap proved no problem for the 5yr old Live Or Die mare, that was registering win three of her career. The toughness she showed is a positive pointer to her prospects in the coming weeks.  Sheer Class registering the third win of her career driven by Ray Reekie  It was a stable quinella in the 5th of the night as the less favoured Nikola held a game The Lion Man. Nikola has been the subject of frustration for some time and the confidence levels were hardly very high. However, the even pace that was set throughout suited him on the night and after charging to the lead at the 200m he held out stablemate The Lion Man by a length in 3.20.7 for the 2600m stand. This win was no doubt very satisfying for his very loyal and patient band of owners. Nikola toughs it out for win 3 from 29 starts. Of the three winners for the night, it was the third of these Maximum Power that could not have been more impressive. In what was a pretty smart field for the junior drivers, he did a power of work over the last lap before surging to the lead at the 200m. In a driving finish, driver Matt Purvis got the best out of the the big Bettor's Delight gelding, coming home in impressive sections of 800m 56.7 and 400m 28.1. He certainly is a horse on the rise and with the toughness that he exhibited last night is sure to kick on to better company. Of note for driver Matt was that the win is the 15th of his career and he now has earned the right to drive on premier night programmes, a testament to the progress he has made as a driver this season. Its two from two for impressive winner Maximum Power Courtesy of Robert Dunn Racing Stables  

Robert Dunn sees a silver lining to Franco Nelson’s controversial Miracle Mile snub. Because now the New Zealand Cup runner-up can be the flagbearer for his North Island satellite stable which opens this week. Franco Nelson was passed over for a Miracle Mile invite at the expense of Terror To Love, who got the second Kiwi invite to next week’s A$750,000 race, even though Franco Nelson beat him twice last week. Dunn says while he would love to be going to Australian pacing’s richest sprint he isn’t losing much sleep over the snub. “Sure, we would love to have him there but we could also go over, draw outside horses like Beautide and have no chance,” admits Dunn. “That decision is made and we have Auckland to concentrate on with him now as well as the Hunter and Victoria Cups later in the summer.” Franco Nelson will have plenty of stable company when he comes north this weekend, with Dunn and son John, who train in what is basically an unofficial partnership, sending six horses north. They will be stabled at the new Lincoln Farms property in South Auckland after owner John Street moved his harness racing operation from West Auckland. “We are privelaged to get some room at John’s place because he does things well,” says Dunn. “And the time has come for us to have a more permanent base in Auckland. “I have a lot of Auckland-based owners who want to see their horses race up there as often as we can. “And it is getting harder to ignore the stakes at Alexandra Park and the fact they have smaller fields. “So Franco will lead our team up there with horses like No Doctor Needed and Say My Name among the six we are sending up.” The Dunns won’t be the first Canterbury trainers to set up a northern base and most fall over eventually as they struggle for horse numbers or staff who can replicate the main trainer’s success in their absence. The latest venture would seem to have a greater shot at success than most though as the horses will be in the care of Matt Bowden, who has had a wonderful strike rate looking after the stable’s horses on previous extended northern raids. “Matt will be the man up there but of course John and I will be making trips up, especially John who will drive them racenight a lot of the time. “The driving can be shared with Dexter if needs be too because he drives up there a lot of the summer. “We are really excited about it because it gives up more options with our horses. “We haven’t gone into it lightly and we want to make this a permanent thing.” Franco Nelson has come though his two Cup week placings well and is being set for a $30,000 race at Alexandra Park on December 5 before having races available to him almost every week until mid-January, especially as the Harness Jewels winner is eligible for Four and Five-Year-Old mixed racing. He is then likely to head to Victoria and on to the Inter Dominion in Sydney on March 1. The Dunns setting up shop in the north will be welcomed by Alexandra Park officials as they continue to struggle for numbers in their better pacing races. Trotting races have been of huge benefit to Alexandra Park field sizes, a huge factor in turnover figures, but pacing races stronger than mid-grade still struggle. The Dunns sit second equal on the trainer’s premiership with 20 wins for the season worth nearly $300,000 in stakes. The runaway leaders at the Purdon-Rasmussen stable, which has won 36 races from 106 starters and have already banked $994,239 for the season, with nearly 60 per cent of their starters finishing in the first three.   Courtesy of Michael Guerin - Harness Racing New Zealand

Impressive Mach Three 4yr old No Doctor Needed looked ready for his cup week assignments, delivering a "freebie" victory on Friday at Addington in the hands of Matt Purvis. Resuming after a five month break, last season's Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes winner had to be good, obliged to sit outside pacemaker Someardensomewhere throughout. He proved equal to the task, powering to the lead on the turn and then digging tough over the last 200m to hold on by 3/4 length. The overall time for the 1950m was 2.20, home from the 800m in 56 and the last 400m in 28.6, on a 1.55.5 mile rate. This was the son of Molly Darling's 5th win from just eight starts. He has been well placed by connections and enters cup week as a C2 horse. While it was the horse's first start for some time he was well ready for his resumption, having had three workouts and a trial. Plans past cup week are unclear at present and he may join a large contingent likely to head north over Xmas and New Year. With a huge number of opportunities for the 4yr olds in the second half of the season, he will be given his chance to again match up to the best of his age group. Courtesy Of Robert Dunn Racing Stables - Check site here     

In just his 3rd start for the stable, big American Ideal 4yr old Superintendent showed that he was progressing the right way with a narrow victory over a fast closing Franco Harrison. After missing away early on, he was allowed time to find his feet before being sent to the lead by John from the 1200m. Allowed to dictate things from there, he was forced to fight hard in the straight to just repulse a late challenge. Sold to Australia as a younger horse, he failed to realise his true ability from limited opportunities. As a last hope he was brought back to New Zealand and assigned to the tutelage of Robert and John, who quickly liked what they saw. A big rolling type, Superintendent appears well placed to add to this tally over the coming months.    In other races for the day, it was Graduate Under Fire that looked a next upper after being narrowly beaten after being denied a run in the straight. In a driving finish, Graduate Under Fire and Return To Sender were both narrowly held out by a game Tuxedo Max. Both will have plenty of opportunities in the coming weeks. Meanwhile in the day's feature the Methven Cup, Pure Power closed the curtain on what has been a very successful career, running an honest race before heading to the retirement paddock. The race was won by a much improved Franco Ledger, over last year's winner Jimmy Johnstone. Courtesy of Robert Dunn Racing     Check site here  

One of the true greats of New Zealand harness racing in Master Musician has passed away at the ripe old age of 27. Always his former trainer Robert Dunn's favourite topic of coversation, "Master" as he was affectionately known raced for eight seasons winning $1,926,810 in prize-winnings.  From his 109 lifetime starts he recorded 34 wins, 23 seconds and 14 thirds. Quite astonishing statistics. Asked to label one of those wins that stood out over the others, Robert said that "he couldn't". "There were too many!" Pressed further he said that, "it would probably be the 1992 Auckland Cup," a race that he beat home another top horse of that time in Christopher Vance. Following his race career, Master Musician has been well looked after by any number of people, starting with vet Dave Senior. He then spent many years with Warwick Sparks. Robert recalled that Master had a paddock in front of Warwick's bedroom and every morning when he opened the blinds, he would be waiting there to see him. He was great with all the foals and weanlings. "Whenever their was a storm or the weather turned real nasty they would all run to Master," reflected Robert. In more recent times, Master has enjoyed his time living at the property of Nigel Armstrong. "It was just easier to work in with Paul Howlett who did his feet and Gerard Tracey who looked after his teeth. He was well looked after there too, sharing his paddock with a couple of Georgie's (Bolton) ponies." "Just before winter, we were quite worried bout him, but he came right and was looking great. Then we got the call yesterday from Dave Senior saying that things weren't good and that it was the end of the road for the old boy." "He had always had a heart murmur and with a bit of colic that he copped this time, that proved his final undoing." "He's always been well looked after and well loved and I guess thats been the key to his longevity." As Dexter recalls, "he was a horse that always craved company. He just hated being on his own. It did his head in. It didn't matter how moody the company with him was, he just needed to be around other horses." There is no doubt that Master Musician will long be remembered for a career that stood the test of time. Now gone, but never forgotten. Rest in peace old fella.   Courtesy Of Robert Dunn Racing - Check site here   

The first race on the program at Methven today was blessed with three really smart 3 year olds and as expected they dominated the finish. McArdle Star, Highview Freedy and Until Further Notice all had their supporters prior to the race and all went well enough to justify that support. Highview Freddy from the Robert Dunn barn led easily from barrier one with Sam Ottley in the bike while the Jimmy Curtin trained and driven Until Further Notice settled three back on the inner from his second row draw. The Ken Barron trained McArdle Star with stable reinsman Blair Orange in the bike settled third last from his second line draw.. Sent forward three wide with cover by Blair with a lap to run, McArdle Star found the death seat with 900 meters to run and sat there until the 400 meters when he went up to eyeball Highview Freddy as they turned for home. Blair did little more than flick the reins at McArdle Star up the straight as he went on for an impressive debut win by 2 and 1/4 lengths from Highview Freddy who was just as clearly second. Until Further Notice cleared the pocket three back on the inner as they turned for home and ran on well for third but was 2 and 1/2 lengths from Highview Freddy at the finish. McArdle Star paced the 2300 meters on the grass in 3:02.3, a mile rate of 2:07.5 on a track rated as dead. Brought out of the 2013 Australasian Classic Sale for $30,000 by long time stable clients of Ken Barron in Steve Thompson and Grant Dickey, McArdle Star is as the name suggests is a 3 year old by McArdle from the talented Presidential Ball mare Star Of The Ball 1:56.1 ($68,647) The first foal from Star Of The Ball by Christian Cullen was named Two Twenty in reference to the fact he cost $220,000 at the sales. Why he didn't amount to much on the racetrack, the next two colts in Merv 1:53 ($67,763) and Macha 1:55.8 ($115,297) were well above average. The grand dam of Star Of The Ball is none other than the champion broodmare in Black Watch. McArdle Star looks to have inherited all the family ability and should be in for a profitable season judging by todays run. Harnesslink Media      

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