Phone call gives Dunn a career highlight
By Michael Guerin
Robert Dunn received one of the most satisfying phone calls of his career last week.
It was from the famous father of the man who Dunn will beat to win his first New Zealand trainer’s premiership next month.
Dunn’s 83 wins for the season will be enough to win him the title even if he doesn’t add to the number as while Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen sit in 69 wins, they are effectively done for the season.
Michael House sits third in 63 and as busy as he is it is hard to imagine him training 20 winners in six weeks so Dunn is the heir apparent to the title of premier trainer.
And while he admits that feels a little strange because of the enormous interruption to the season, a phone call last week made it all feel so real.
“Roy Purdon rang me to congratulate me on winning the premiership,” smiles Dunn.
“It was a bit awkward because of the way the season has been and I told Roy I was lucky that Mark and Nat didn’t get more of a chance to beat me.
“But he said not to worry about that, it didn’t matter and that I deserved it and had been a good trainer for a long time.
“That was when it hit hone to me and to be honest that phone call from a man like Roy was one of the highlights of my career.”
While Dunn’s southern stable is already back and racing and is certain to be good for a few wins to add to his ultimate premiership tally, his northern team starts rolling out in public at the trials this Friday.
And that is a conscious decision he made not to rush them back to the races once the Covid restriction eased.
“Obviously the Pukekohe track was closed so all the horses from there were on the back foot a bit but we made the decision to bring them up a bit slower.
“Once these horses get up and running they have the potential to do a lot of racing and particularly for the better ones who could be involved in premier racing, you don’t want to have them all peaking too early.
“So some of them, like Passion And Power (this season’s star juvenile filly), could have been back racing but they are group one horses. So we eased off her because she has a lot of top class racing she can come back for in September, October and then for months afterwards.
“It requires a bit of thinking and working out.”
The first pair back from the northern team will be Mighty Looee and You Really Got Me who will trial this Friday, the week after and then race in two weeks.
“We have Woodstone, who has come up a treat again and Resonate trialling in two weeks and they can race next month and then Pretty Majestic, who has been given more time.”
That former Australian trotting mare has been one of the finds of the season after being sent to Dunn because she apparently preferred right-handed racing.
“That is what we thought but she won so well at Cambridge one night and is such a good mare we see her as a horse who could go down to Cup week to contest the best races down there.” That gives Dunn and his inter-island stable, the southern one run by son John, plenty of open class firepower in both gaits for next season.
“We have Sundees Son and Pres The Belle down south and both Woodstone and Pretty Majestic could join them in good open class trots.
“And then we have horses like Henry Hubert, Classie Brigade and Sheriff for the better pacing races.
“So we have some really good horses to aim at the carnivals and that is why we can give some of them time to come up.”
Spoken like a true premiership winning trainer.