Dunn's four-timer likely to open doors
Australian rider Dwayne Dunn gave another faultless display at Sha Tin yesterday to celebrate his first Hong Kong four-timer and throw his name in the ring for the major events on the horizon.
Dunn's tally for the season soared to 17 wins when he racked up Songs Of Praise and Celestial Chief for trainer David Hayes, who won a treble for the day, and added Perfetto for John Size and Tony Millard-trained Sirocco.
'I thought I was a great chance to make it five in the last on The Duke and I told the owners not to worry, that I'd been there before and won five on a day twice in Adelaide,' Dunn said. 'At the 200 metres, I thought I had it too, then I looked around and Able Choice just charged past.'
Dunn said his season had gone well to date, riding winners for more stables than last season when he largely relied on Size and Hayes. 'I've been working very hard and things haven't quite been falling my way - even though I've been picking up a winner here and a winner there, I haven't really been making an impression,' he explained.
'It's the nature of the beast in Hong Kong, I know, that you go through lean patches but it's great to get going like this at this time of year. Hopefully, it will help me get on some nice horses for the good races coming up.'
Size was singing Dunn's praises earlier in the day after he had won only two, when the jockey controlled the pace to lead throughout on Perfetto in the all-weather Class Three event over 1,800 metres.
'Dwayne's riding as well as anyone at the moment and he gave this horse every chance. He used his draw and the horse's attributes and never wasted his energy doing it,' Size said, then added that he believed Perfetto could make into a very smart horse over the next 12 months.
'He is only a three-year-old and you'd have to think he can only improve. He races handy, handles all kinds of going and, as this was his first try at 1,800 metres, I think it's reasonable to think he will run a bit further, too. And he loves a fight and a horse that races handy and is hard to get past is going to win races.'
Dunn provided two legs of Hayes' treble, winning with copybook displays on Songs Of Praise (race four) and Celestial Magic (race eight).
Appropriately named Songs Of Praise turned his fortunes upside down with a narrow win after looking to have broken down hopelessly in the back straight at Happy Valley last time out. 'I was on the horse next to him at Happy Valley and I thought he'd broken his leg for sure,' Dunn said. 'There was a loud crack like a gunshot and I thought he had gone.'
But it was found Songs Of Praise had locked in a stifle briefly and recovered from the problem to complete the course. 'I think he has always had some sort of a problem, something that locks up and gives him a bit of discomfort at times but it is not permanent damage,' Dunn said.
'Today, we had a good gate and he had a soft run behind the leaders on the fence and he didn't have much to spare so probably the draw made the difference.'
But while Songs Of Praise may have his limitations, Hayes' Fraar three-year-old Celestial Magic made it three wins from four starts when he bolted in yesterday coming off his defeat as favourite over 1,600 metres.
'I think we've discovered that he really likes to be out on his own at this stage,' Dunn said. 'He was outside horses at his first run when he won and then again when he scored on the all-weather track. Last time, I gave him a nice run but in behind and he became claustrophobic with horses around him and really didn't extend when he did get out in the clear.'
Yesterday, Dunn took Celestial Magic to the front and the young horse was never threatened. 'He liked being out there free-rolling and he runs quick sectionals,' Dunn said.
'He was just idling on the corner and I thought I'd let them come at him and hope he would kick - he did and he broke their hearts. He is by a Caulfield Cup winner so he should probably get further than a mile and one thing about him is that he loves Hong Kong. I don't think he'd be as good in Australia but he seems to like the environment here.'
Hayes, who is overseas, also won with On Shan Express in race four, the first leg of Gerald Mosse's winning double he completed with Able Choice.
Dunn wrapped up the four with Sirocco, who had been tried at longer trips before switching back to 1,600 metres yesterday. 'He's been a bit unlucky, he always seems to bump a really good horse,' Millard said. 'But he has been a bit keen over the longer trips at this stage and the mile is his distance, though that doesn't mean he won't run further.'