Dunns go into partnership

By Michael Guerin

New Zealand’s premiership winning stable is about to become a partnership.

From this week two-time premiership winner Robert Dunn will go into partnership with Jenna Dunn, the wife of Robert’s son John.

The new partnership will be an acknowledgement of how much John and Jenna have contributed to making the stable the premier harness racing outfit in the country for the second year, with the 124 wins seeing Dunn finishing 47 wins clear of Michael House, with Steve and Amanda Telfer third with a personal best 64 winners.

Robert and John have been training together in very much an unofficial partnership in recent years as the stable has northern and southern bases, with Robert often spending time in Auckland.

But the time has come to make the partnership official but with John also the country’s second leading driver it will be Jenna’s name on the stationery.

“John and Jenna work very much together and she is an accomplished horsewoman who does so much work both with the horses and the organisational side of the business,” says Robert.

“So to have her and John recognised like this is important so we are hoping it is all approved this week.

“But we also want John to have the option to drive the best horses he can get on, including a horse like Five Wise Men so that is why his name won’t be part of the partnership.”

Ultimately though Robert says he wants the partnership known by the brandname Diamond Racing.

“That is what we are calling the business and that is the name we buy most of the yearlings under so we are re-branding the business that and eventually we hope that is what people will know it as.”

The partnership comes as Robert wins his second premiership, albeit under unusual circumstances which he is very modest about.

“Last year I won my first one after Covid hit and this year Mark and Natalie stepped away half way through the season so you could ask have I really won one yet?” laughed the popular 66-year-old.

The answer is yes because even the combined total of Purdon/Rasmussen and the trainer who took over their team Hayden Cullen while an impressive 107 would still be 17 short of Dunn’s number.

“I am trying to enjoy it and not take it for granted,” says Robert.

“After all a lot of hard work from lots of people we have a lot to be proud of and we have been lucky enough to have a great owners as well.”

Dunn says the highlight of the season that saw the stable runners earn $2,162,218 was the group one victories of Sundees Son which are bound to have at least put him in contention for the Horse of the Year title.

“He is a special horse and not just the races he won but the way he won them was so special and really capped the season for us.”

Dunn says the two stables will have over 60 horses in work including 17 from last year’s yearling sales.

“I realised a few years ago that unless you and buying and buying well at the yearling sales you have no chance of competing at the highest level. No chance.

“So we have been active at the sales with some regular clients and some new ones but we also bought some horses on spec and tried something different by breaking them in and then letting people come view them and see if they wanted to take a share.

“We are going to have a bigger open day to do that soon and we have about six horses we still have shares in because we have taken this different approach to it to take some of the risk out of it for owners.”

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