John Dunn joins 1000 win club
NZ HARNESS NEWS
Driver John Dunn showed just how thrilled he was to rein his 1000th winner when raising his whip to salute as Chief Of Staff crossed the finish line at Motukarara on Sunday.
Dunn became the 25th driver to win 1000 races in New Zealand when the horse won a 2170m trot at the Akaroa Trotting Club’s meeting.
In doing so he joined his brother, Dexter, who is currently plying his trade in North America.
“It was a big thrill,” he said.
It took the Cantabrian just over 18 years to join the elite group of drivers and he bagged nine Group 1 wins in the process.
Seven of those victories came with former glamour racemare Venus Serena.
“She did a bloody good job for me.”
Dunn’s first Gr.1 victory came with Yankee Dream in the two-year-old fillies’ Sires Stakes Championship in 2009 for his father, Robert.
The pair also combined to win the New Zealand Messenger Championship in 2014 with Elios.
Dunn scored his first victory at Alexandra Park in August of 2001 when driving Scotlynn Jag to win for trainer Barry Purdon.
The horseman was a solid achiever as a junior driver, placing third on the national premiership before joining the open ranks.
It would not take long before Dunn was cemented as one of New Zealand’s premier reinsmen.
The Dunns ,Ken and Clark Barron, and Mike and Colin DeFilippi are the only sets of brothers that have both won 1000 races.
Emerging trainer Jason Thomas provided Dunn his 1000th winner with the trotter, Chief Of Staff.
Winning the race was a thrill, but being part of Dunn’s milestone made the victory incredibly memorable, he said.
“Being part of Johnny’s 1000th win made it even more special.
“I worked at Woodend for two and a half years or so and we are reasonably good mates and he has helped me out a lot with the horses.”
Running ninth on the mud-splattered Orari track last month is the only blemish on Chief Of Staff’s recent form.
The trotter has been a consistent improver since joining Thomas’s stable a year ago.
“He has surprised us quite a bit, really, he seems to be a very good stayer.
“His run on Cup Day was pretty good, he did plenty of work and he only just got beaten by a pretty nice horse in Kings Landing.”
“Every challenge he takes he just keeps stepping up.”
Thomas is in just his third season of training and like many young horsemen is attempting to establish his career.
He currently has seven horses in work.
Later in the day, the Akaroa Cup was won by Baileys Knight for trainer Jack Harrington and driver Sam Ottley.