Racing: Home team kicks three goals

By Michael Guerin

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

At least a couple of members of the Whitelock family enjoyed themselves on Saturday.

While All Black Sam Whitelock and his three brothers suffered a shock defeat when their Crusaders went down to the Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday night, earlier in the day their parents all but owned Addington Raceway.

Braeden and Caroline Whitelock owned three winners, including group one victor O Baby, who overcame a poor draw to win the $150,000 Nevele R Fillies Final.

The tiny filly came from last courtesy of a perfect drive from Natalie Rasmussen, while the Whitelocks also own Minnie Moose and Paddy Brown, who were effortless winners. That not only capped their greatest day in racing but with all three of their winners being mares, and the fact they own the talented Dancing Diamonds, the Whitelocks are going to end up with one of New Zealand's most commercial broodmare bands.

All three winners are trained by Mark Purdon and Grant Payne, who continue to dominate harness racing's premier meetings.

They were expecting to win the Fillies Final with Twist And Twirl but she was savaged in front, setting the race up for the swoopers.

The top fillies now head to the NZ Oaks on Friday night before the Harness Jewels a fortnight later, giving the Whitelocks something to take their mind off the family rugby woes.

For their part, the Purdon-Payne stable have extended their best season's tally to 122 wins in New Zealand for $2.35 million in stakes.

While they will struggle to match their best-ever domestic earnings season of $3.4 million three years ago, they have also won the Interdominion Trotting Final, Ballarat Cup, five Interdominion heats and the NSW Derby in Australia, so their horses have won more then $3 million Australasia-wide.

Just as dominant on the driving scene is Dexter Dunn, who had another monster day on Saturday.

He reined Bit Of A Legend to win the $250,000 PGG Sales Series Pace and Sheemon in the $60,000 Sires' Stakes Trot.

That came after two group one wins at Alexandra Park the previous week and Dunn's 144 wins leads the driver's premiership by a staggering 46 from David Butcher.

Bit Of A Legend's win can be attributed to Dunn's aggression early to get into a trail behind Five Card Draw.

That gave him the ideal run as Five Card Draw was attacked, most noticeably by Alta Christiano, who produced a mammoth performance after being three wide for the last lap.

But the two favourites simply used up too much energy and presented Bit Of A Legend the race up the passing lane.

So good was Alta Christiano in defeat, he has shortened to $1.60 favouritism for the Jewels, although it is hard to judge how much the heroic run will take out of the flashy youngster.

- NZ Herald

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