Out to defy the record books

By Tayler Strong

Venus Serena could be equal to defying the record book in the $25,000 Ricoh Dunedin Four and Five-Year-Old Championship at Forbury Park on Thursday night.

The 4yr-old mare has earned favouritism with a superb win in the New Zealand Breeders’ Stakes in fast time against fillies and mares at Addington at her last start on March 20. She is familiar with Forbury Park, winning a heat of the Sires’ Stakes for fillies there 12 months ago. A small field is in her favour from a 30m handicap. She is the best performed horse with 16 wins

Statistics are against Venus Serena.

A 4yr-old has not won the Championship since it was open to 5yr-olds four years ago. The race has not been won from a 30m handicap. Franco Ledger ran third in 2013. Few mares have won the event, even when it was restricted to 4yr-olds.

John Dunn, the driver of Venus Serena, will combine with Katy Perry in the heat of the Nevele R Sires’ Stakes for 3yr-old fillies with his brother, Dexter opting for On The Town.

Cran Dalgety, the trainer of both horses, also has Bettor Think Twice (Matthew Williamson) and Storm Maguire (Trent Lethaby) in the field.

On The Town has drawn one  over the 1700m (mobile) with Katy Perry on the outside of the front row  Dexter has driven On The Town in her two wins, both at Addington. He has driven Katy Perry to win the Breeders’ Crown Final at Melton in August and her six other wins. John drove Katy Perry to finish second to Rocker Band in a heat of the Sires’ Stakes at Addington last month.

Katy Perry won a heat of the Sires’ Stakes for 2yr-old fillies at Forbury Park 12 months ago. The heat has been transferred to Addington this year. It had been staged at Forbury since 1988, except for 2009 when the meeting was transferred to Addington.

Formula One, who is unbeaten in three workouts and two trials, is being sent on the same path as  crack juvenile pacer Courage Under Fire by the same connections at Forbury Park  on Thursday night.

The 2yr-old Formula One has drawn favourably against older horses over 2200m from the mobile gate and he will have the services of in-form reinsman, Nathan Williamson.

Formula One won a workout at Motukarara on Saturday for new trainer Bruce Negus, of Burnham. The Mach Three – Raise Your Spirits gelding joined Negus four weeks ago after winning the other four assignments away from home for Ryal Bush trainer Hamish Hunter. He was then bought by Greg Brodie.

Negus gave the Brodie-owned Courage Under Fire his first race at Forbury Park in January, 1998 as a 2yr-old after a trial win at Ashburton 11 days earlier and some brilliant private work. Courage Under Fire, driven by Colin De Filippi, won the race against his own age group by half a length from Smart Holmes. Courage Under Fire was unbeaten in six starts at two and 16 at three, including six Derbies. He stretched his winning sequence to 24. He ended his racing with 41 wins and $1.5 million in stakes. He is now a successful sire.