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Dunn’s ‘fastest ever’ Alta Maestro resumes

NZ HARNESS NEWS

Gun three-year-old Alta Maestro returns to the track at Alexandra Park on Friday night.

It will act as a pipe-opener before next week’s first Sires Stakes Series heat at Cambridge.

His trainer, Robert Dunn, speaks incredibly highly of the Art Major colt, who was Group 1-placed as a juvenile last season.

“He’s as good as any horse I’ve ever trained.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a faster horse.

“As well as that, he has a tremendous brain on him; he’s an incredibly intelligent horse and all things tell me he is going to be a lovely relaxed horse this season.”

Given Dunn has trained 1286 New Zealand winners, that is a claim that has to be respected.

All things being equal, Pukekohe-based Dunn expects Alta Maestro to have just the two starts in the north before heading to south to his son John at their Woodend Beach property, near Christchurch.

“The plan is to qualify for the Sires Stakes Final at Cambridge next week and then send him straight down to the beach with Johnny.

“I want to get him down there as soon as possible and settled in.”

Last season, Alta Maestro’s racing style was to fire off the arm and either lead or sit parked.

This term, Dunn hopes to race him to best utilise his superior speed.

“This year we are going to drive him differently.

“He has such brilliant speed and he’s relaxing well now, so that will be his best asset.

“Last season he always drew well to lead, and with Mark (Purdon) and Natalie (Rasmussen) having three or four in all the features, we always went forward to make our own luck.

“Then we planned to go back in the Jewels but he just wanted to charge off the gate.”

Alta Maestro wound up parked outside hot favourite Spankem in what was a 1.51.9 mile and battled down the straight to finish eighth.

Fast-forward nearly four months and he’s had one workout at Franklin Park last Tuesday to ready him for this week’s race.

“I’m pretty happy with him; he’s come up good and went well at the workouts .

“We drove him in behind and he hit the line really well on the back of the winner.”

Tony Herlihy drove Alta Maestro in that workout and will take the reins tomorrow night, and at Cambridge next week.

“Tony’s locked in for his northern races but once he gets down south we will have to see what happens.

“Dexter (Dunn) is probably committed to one of Cran Dalgety’s and Johnny will have the pick of a few of ours.”

Alta Maestro meets only five other horses this week and is drawn second from the outside of the arm.

“I put him in this race knowing he’d draw out and it’s ideal to teach him to come from behind.

“If it goes to plan, Tony can make one run with him and use his high speed.”

In a small field, with his speed, Alta Maestro looks to be one of the clear bets of the night and the bookies agree, opening him a hot favourite this afternoon.