Dunn's dash pays off

By Adam Hamilton

DEXTER Dunn’s glorious winning drive on Let It Ride in last night’s $200,000 Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park almost didn’t happen.

In fact, just 20 hours before the race, Dunn was back home in NZ and almost convinced a stomach bug would ground him, as it had done the night before at Addington.

“When I went to bed about 7pm (Friday) I thought I was no chance to be on the flight to Brisbane,” Dunn said. “I sort of tossed and turned between 1-3am then at 3am I had a glass of water and said to myself if I kept it down, I’d head to the airport.”

The water stayed down, Dunn scrambled together his gear and lobbed at Christchurch airport at 4.30am.

The rest is now Grand Circuit history.

Dunn, driving a horse who wasn’t even going to contest the Blacks A Fake just six days earlier, reminded everyone why is a former World Champion and one of the very best in the game.

The spot everyone wanted to be in the race was leading then taking a sit on tough and classy four-year-old Atomic Red. Dunn’s early smarts and aggression landed him in that prized spot.

“I knew I had to do a bit early and then when I got the front, Atomic Red was the right horse to sit on,” he said.

“I was bolting all the way then when I said go, he just put a gap in them. He felt awesome out there tonight.”

The win took Dunn’s unbeaten record on Let It Ride to five races, but the first four way back at the start of the now rising five-year-old’s career.

“When I drove him he was a bundle of raw talent. He galloped out at his first start and still won. The potential was there, but he’s a different horse now. Tim (Butt) has done a fantastic job with him.”

Dunn’s genius in the sulky was matched only by Butt’s quick-thinking and bold decision late last Sunday to switch from chasing the 4YO feature to the main event with Let It Ride.

“When we knew Tiger Tara wasn’t coming up and Soho Tribeca went amiss, we thought it was worth giving Let It Ride his chance. You don’t get many $200,000 Grand Circuit races without many of the real stars of the sport in it.

“I don’t like rushing my horses into things, but this looked a good option.

“I must say I was surprised how easily he did it. He made light of work of it, but Dexter’s drive was a fantastic.”

The win was Butt’s 52nd at Grand Circuit level – across pacing and trotting – and extended his commanding lead on the all-time winners’ list over Mark Purdon (32) and Gary Hall Sr (26).

Butt hopes to add more later this year with Let it Ride, but his Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal, who ran way below his best again last night, won’t be racing again for quite some time.

“Let It Ride will be set for the Inter Dominion. He’s earned it now. He’s not an NZ Cup horse … not yet, anyway,” he said. “He can have a month out now then I’ll target the Inter Dominion in Melbourne.

“Something obviously isn’t right with My Field Marshal. We went right over him after last week and couldn’t find anything, but he’s not right.

“I’ll get him checked over again, but he’ll go out for a big spell. He’s not an NZ Cup or Inter Dominion horse, so he won’t race again this year.”

It’s a changing phase for Australia’s open-class ranks with so many big names retired, moving to the US or sidelined with injury, which makes the Blacks A Fake result so important.

Let It Ride led home a quinella for four-year-olds with the ultra- tough and promising Atomic Red finishing a brave second.

Just for good measure, Let It Ride’s 1min54.8sec mile rate also broke Our Hi Jinx’s 1min55.0sec track record for 2680m. It was also much quicker than the late Yulestar went (1min56.2sec) winning the 2001 Albion Park Inter Dominion over 2647m.

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