Dunn won't back down
By Michael Guerin
The man who might stand between the All Stars Stables and an almost unfathomable clean sweep of the Harness Jewels says he won’t be backing down come Saturday.
In what might be close to a first anywhere in the racing world, the all-conquering Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen stable are favoured to win eight of the nine group ones at the $1.2million Jewels meeting, and have the second favourite in the other race.
The law of averages suggest at least a couple of their charges will perform below their best, suffer bad luck or simply not be good enough but it is still realistic they could win all nine group one races.
Considering the Jewels is an open raceday, with so Sires’ Stakes or sales restrictions and has attracted six Australian invites, an All Stars whitewash would be extraordinary and rank as one of the greatest training performances in history.
But, and it is an awfully big but, they still have to win the races and local driver John Dunn says he is going to make that as difficult as possible for them.
Dunn has eight drives, all on horses trained by his father Robert, whose Cantebury team he does much of the work with and included among them is the only non-All Stars favourite in Sundees Son.
He deserves to be top elect for the four-year-old trot after stunning wins in both the Anzac and Rowe Cups at Alexandra Park four weeks ago and he races up to that level is is hard to see him beaten, especially if he brings his manners.
He did just that is a sedate trial at Addington last Saturday but trotted home a quick last 800m and has the benefit of a good draw on Saturday.
“While he has had some manners issues in the past he has usually been good off the mobile and I think it won’t be an issue on Saturday,” says Dunn, the older brother champion driver Dexter Dunn, who is now based in North America.
“He has come back from Auckland and not missed a beat so I think he will lead and they will need to be good to beat him.” As solid as Sundees Son’s trial was last Saturday what was just as reassuring for punters is that he didn’t roll into his usual gallop after the finish line, suggesting he is a sound, happy horse at the end of his long season.
Dunn crucially has the advantage of the ace draw in the three-year-old male pace and says he will use it to try for an all the way win with Heisenberg.
“I am going to drive him like I did in the Sires’ Stakes Final in November,” Dunn says firmly.
On that occasion, over the same track and distance as Saturday, Heisenberg led and gave both eventual winner Ultimate Sniper and Jesse Duke a lot to chase before finishing third.
Ultimate Sniper is spelling but Jesse Duke is the hot favourite for Saturday’s race and if Dunn is true to his word and launches Heisenberg then favourite punters could be in for an uncomfortable watch.
Dunn also has inside draws with Henry Hubert in the four-year-old Emerald and Spellbound in the juvenile filly pace, where he opts for Tiffany Rose as the stable’s better chance.
But it is in the very open two-year-old trot that he has his next best chance of upsetting the All Stars dominance.
One Majic Kenny has been more interested in galloping than trotting in recent starts but has the motor to match it with the favourite if he behaves as well as he did when second at the trials last Saturday.
“He is good enough but I actually want the mobile to go faster, I think it goes too slow sometimes and that trips some horses up,” says Dunn.