Don't Stop Dreaming arrives in the big time

by Michael Guerin

Don’t Stop Dreaming may have sealed his open class credentials at Alexandra Park on Sunday night but that doesn’t mean he will become a big-time regular just yet.

Because co-trainer Nathan Purdon says while Don’t Stop Dreaming is good enough to race in a race like the open class A$500,000 Hunter Cup in a month they will target four-year-old races while they can.

Don’t Stop Dreaming arrived in the big time on the last day of his three-year-old career, given a beautiful run by Tony Herlihy he blew straight past open class stars Old Town Road and Akuta in the $60,000 Lincoln Farms Franklin Cup.

It was a comprehensive victory against two of our best pacers and confirmed what all harness racing fans have known for months, that Don’t Stop Dreaming is a group 1 Cups horse in waiting.

He now heads to Victoria with stablemate Akuta and while they could clash again in some open class races in January, when the biggest money is up for grabs Don’t Stop Dreaming will revert four-year-old company.

“He would fit into the Hunter Cup on February 3 but that is the same night as the four-year-old race called The Bonanza,” explains Nathan Purdon.

“The Hunter Cup is worth A$500,000 and the Bonanza only A$75,000 but the difference is the Bonanza is an automatic qualifier for the Chariots Of Fire (four-year-olds only) in Sydney a month later.

“That is his big target, the race we want to win, so he will go to the Bonanza, hopefully earn a spot in the Chariots Of Fire and then head to Sydney to contest that.”

That will mean Don’t Stop Dreaming could ultimately take on his arch rival Merlin, who is also being aimed at the Chariots but trying to qualify via Sydney and if either of the Kiwi four-year-olds was to win the Chariots they would almost certainly get invited to the A$1million Miracle Mile a week later.

Akuta was fairly and squarely beaten last night but Purdon says he will improve and he was chasing the whole race from his 30m back mark.

“It was always going to be tough for him but he will improve with the race and be better in Victoria,” says Nathan.

Old Town Road was a brave second and looks to be returning to his best now he is home in the north.

Don’t Stop Dreaming’s win will also only enhance his chances of securing one of the 10 spots in the $1million Race by Grins at Cambridge on April 12 as he already looks well and truly in the top 5 or 6 pacers in the country in the slot race that should attract at least two of Australia’s best pacers, leaving plenty of slots for the locals.

Old Town Road’s trainer John Dickie went one better in the night’s open class trot, the Majestic Horse Floats Greenlane Cup, with Resolve defended her title.

Trained by Paul Nairn when she races in the South Island, Resolve has joined Dickie for an extended northern campaign and she just clung on to beat a gutsy All Cashed Up in the 2700m standing start.

That completed a feature trot-race double for driver Bob Butt as he earlier trained and drove Bet N Win to an explosive, for the conditions, win in the $50,000 The Box Seat Hot To Trot Final.

He showed the benefit of having had an Alexandra Park outing in the heats when he trotted smoothly for the majority of the trip and when Butt launched him down the back straight he exploded clear and won like a horse who will march toward open class.

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