Game, set and match

By Matt Markham

A little bit satisfaction mixed in with a heap of elation and relief.

Those were Geoff Dunn’s emotions in a nutshell as he watched his glamour mare Venus Serena claim the 10th Group One of her stunning career in last night’s NZ Breeders Stakes at Addington.

You see life hasn’t been all beer and skittles for the reigning three-year-old filly of the year this season.

But through all the frustrating and disappointing moments, Dunn along with his co-owners Bob and Jennifer Sandford haven’t given up the faith in their bonny mare and they were rewarded for that loyalty last night.

In the absence of Adore Me the daughter of Mach Three was able to make use of a good barrier draw and an aggressive drive from John Dunn.

“We have had a few things go wrong this time’’ Dunn said.

“But I was reasonably confident she would run a big race and once again she didn’t let us down.’’

Burned to the lead by Dunn, Venus Serena dictated terms and put the race beyond dispute at the top of the straight.

Willow emerged late from the pack looking slightly unlucky while Pemberton Shard turned in her usual solid performance to finish third.

Venus Serena’s time of 3:12 for the 2600 metre mobile is the fourth fastest time in the race since it shifted to the distance from 1950m in 2006.

Those to go quicker than her include Tact Lizzie (3:09.4), Bettor Cover Lover (3:10.7) and Adore Me (3:11.8).

After such a domination in the early stages of her career as a two and three-year-old Venus Serena struggled initially with the rise up into the open ranks, but was also plagued by a series of tough runs and bad barrier draws.

But now Dunn has an interesting dilemma to ponder over with the Sandfords - where to go next.

He could tackle races like the Messenger and Taylor Mile at Auckland, but Dunn is wary of taking on the superstar male pacers so that might mean Venus Serena might not be seen again until closer Harness Jewels time.

“I think that will be the best way to go.

“She tries so hard and in races against those really good males it’s hard for her.’’