Day At The Track

Doing it the hard way to win

07:25 AM 15 Jun 2018 NZST
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Robert Dunn knows his team are going to need to do it the hard way to win at Alexandra Park tonight.

But he says that might actually suit a couple of them.

Dunn is New Zealand's only true inter-island trainer, with a group in the north year-round while son John looks after a larger Canterbury team.

The pair have been able to make something many have tried but few have perfected work, having run second on the premiership the last five years, only the All Stars standing in the way of them consistently being our leading stable.

Dunn has only 10 horses at his northern base, having sent another 12 back to the South Island to recover from a virus.

"We got hit hard by the viruses that have been hanging around up here this season so we sent a whole lot of horses home to be spelled," says Dunn. "Then they can train up down there and come back when the time is right.

"It is not as easy winning races up here as some people might think, the racing is hard and because the fields are small it is easy for horses to get up in the grades quickly.

"But I am happy with how the northern stable has gone and we have a foothold now before the stakes are set to go a lot higher next season so our long-term plan is coming together."

Although Dunn is acutely aware the ability to race handy is often crucial at Alexandra Park, he says Woodstone (race five) and Sundees Son (race seven) are good enough to get back tonight and still win.

Woodstone has been outstanding since coming north but will give his rivals a start in the $40,000 Uncut Gem Trot, a Jewels consolation.

"I think he is a horse better not rushed early and able to get into a rhythm," says Dunn.

"He was massive winning last week and while this is a good even field he can win again.

"He really loves it right-handed, which is another big factor in picking which horses to bring north."

Woodstone will have to beat four reps from the Michelle Wallis-Bernie Hackett stable, who won three trots at Alexandra Park last Friday and have been two of the biggest supporters and therefore beneficiaries of the ATC's emphasis on trotting races in the last two years.

All 31 of their wins this season have been with trotters seeing them lead the national premiership for the gait.

Sundees Son is way better than his formline indicates and with peak concentration he can beat the older horses.

"He is good enough to win but he needs to be looked after early and not get into trouble, which he is pretty good at doing."

The Dunns won't have to rely on such luck with Billy Badger in the $40,000 Uncut Gems for the male pacers, with the talented pacer likely to try to lead and make hot favourite Classic Brigade chase him, which could make them a solid quinella bet.

Michael Guerin

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