Mataderos a work in progress
By Jonny Turner
A glance at blueblood trotter Mataderos’ pedigree suggests winning his New Zealand debut at Geraldine last month was a formality.
But it was far from it.
The victory continued the progress the son of champion mare La Coocaracha and Dream Vacation had made since being brought to Robert Dunn’s stable by Auckland owner and administrator Jamie MacKinnon.
MacKinnon purchased the five-year-old out of Victoria on the recommendation of his son Jack, who works for the horse’s breeder-owners Yabby Dam Farms.
“My son Jack had an association with him in Australia and he said he was available and that I should look at buying him.”
“Being as well related as he was, being out of La Coocaracha, if he had anything like her ability you’d want to get your hands on him.”
Mataderos came with a reputation for being highly strung, which combined with some physical issues soon meant McKinnon had to change his original plans for the horse.
“I bought him to go the Auckland way round, I am on the Auckland board and I would like to have a horse racing on my own track.”
“When I got him here basically he couldn’t get around a bend, let alone an Auckland bend.”
“So we did some work on him, chiropractic work, some vet work and a bit of Robert Dunn magic.”
“We took him to the Pukekohe workouts, but he still couldn’t get around the bends.”
“Robert said to me the only thing I can tell you is I like the horse and I think you should send him down to Johnny [Dunn] and have him trained in a straight line on the beach.”
John Dunn and Craig Edmonds’ magical touch with trotters soon had Mataderos on the improve.
The five-year-old then galloped in a Rangiora workout leading in to his New Zealand debut at Geraldine.
But all that did was push Mataderos’ winning odds out to a juicy $9 price.
“They took him to Rangiora and when the pressure went on he broke,” MacKinnon said.
“But I spoke to Johnny afterwards and he said it was because he latched on and choked down.”
“So he said what we will do is take him to a big grass galloping track so that he could race on a big track and get around the bends and see how we go.”
Mataderos did not put a foot wrong at Geraldine, bolting in under a hold in a highly impressive display.
MacKinnon admitted the victory came as a pleasant surprise.
“To be honest, I was surprised.”
“He stepped away like he had doing it all his life and Johnny took him to the front and he won like a machine.”
“He won as he liked and he could have gone another lap doing the same thing.”
“We knew he had the ability to do something.”
“Now he just needs to learn to get around Addington.”
“Because that is where a horse of his ability needs to be.”
Mataderos is likely to have his second New Zealand start at this weekend’s Methven meeting before a start at Addington is considered for him.