Sundees Son looks to add a new weapon
By Michael Guerin
Sundees Son will be asked to add a new weapon to his growing arsenal this week and it is one that could ultimately win him the Harness Jewels.
The last-start Rowe Cup winner has been the surprise package of the trotting season, his late-season group one double giving him a shot at the Trotter of the Year title.
He could almost put that battle to bed if he wins the four-year-old Ruby at Addington on Saturday week and a crucial step will be the official Jewels trials on the same track this Saturday.
While Sundees Son was stunning coming from well back to win both the Anzac and Rowe Cups he can’t afford to be giving the likes of Winterfell, Majestic Man and King’s Landing a big start over the 1980m mobile.
So Sundees Son is, draw permitting, going to be asked to use his gate speed at Saturday’s trials.
“We would like him to be able to run the gate this week to give us the option to do that if he draws well at the Jewels,” says trainer Robert Dunn.
“If he can develop that, and he hasn’t had many good draws in mobile races to try in the past, then it is another string to his bow which could be really helpful.”
Harness Racing New Zealand has had plenty of Jewels withdrawals this week, mainly from horses who weren’t likely to make the final 12 or younger horses who have hit the wall.
Hardly any major players near the head of the markets have come out.
But while some horses are showing signs of wear and tear this deep into the season, Dunn says his four-year-olds Sundees Son and Henry Hubert (pacer) are in great shape.
“They both had scintigraphy at Matamata after the Rowe Cup carnival and we are really happy with the results.” Dunn and son John have 11 qualified for the Jewels and expect all to be there.
“The one we had a setback with last week was Spellbound, who had a really high white blood cell count after she raced at Addington,” he explains.
“Her heart rate was 120 bpm 20 minutes after the race and even higher 10 minutes later.
“So the blood tests showed what we thought they might but she has been treated and we will look after her to get her blood right and get her back on track for the Jewels.” While the Jewels trials will impact the markets of far greater importance will be the draws, set to released at noon on Friday.
And in a surprise move the two hottest Jewels favourites, Turn It Up (four-year-old male pace) and Elle Mac (four-year-old mares pace) will clash in a free-for-all at Addington on Friday night.
Both were expected to trial this week but will instead race against a former Jewels winner in Ashley Locaz just hours after the draws are released.
Meanwhile, the chances of their stablemate Oscar Bonevena making the field for the three-year-old trot are diminishing as he as he still sits 14th with the trainers of those above him indicating they will start, meaning he is unlikely to even make the ballot.