Robert Dunn hasn't given up on winning harness racing's national premiership, even though he might have to train 25 winners in six weeks to pull it off.
Dunn, who trains in an unofficial partnership with his son John, had 103 wins for the season going into last night's Forbury Park meeting, 17 behind the Mark Purdon-Natalie Rasmussen stable.
Just a week ago the gap was much bigger, but the Dunns had a nine-win week and now Robert says the premiership is still possible.
"We basically have three bases going," he told the Herald.
"We have six horses based near Forbury Park, where they race almost every week until the end of the season.
"We have a nice team up here in Auckland and a good Canterbury team, which is about to be boosted by the return of Franco Christiano, who we think is the bee's knees.
"Before last week I thought we couldn't catch them but if we can have another big week before the end of the month we have a shot going into July."
Dunn's hopes of a first premiership win should be boosted by the Purdon-Rasmussen stable powering down to virtually only their Breeders Crown horses after Addington tonight.
"We will have the Breeders Crown horses and maybe two others going over the winter," Purdon confirmed.
So Dunn is doing his math.
"Mark and Nat will probably win most of the Breeders Crown heats here they contest, although we have Franco Christiano against Heaven Rocks so that will be no gimme for them," says Dunn.
"So they could easily end up on 125 or 126 for the season. That would mean we need to train at least 22 more, maybe even 25 but it is not impossible."
Ironically, Dunn's best winning chance at Alexandra Park tonight is Bevan's Cullen, who was trained by the All Stars until two starts ago.
"He can definitely win again, while Natural and Cherry Bay are racing well and will win again over the winter. But the one who has really improved is Formula One, who won't start a race this week but can win again soon."
Any success at Alexandra Park tonight for Dunn could be cancelled out by G I Joe (race six) and Augusta (race nine) for Purdon-Rasmussen at Addington tonight. While the premiership battle heats up of more immediate interest to punters is the $75,000 jackpot at Alexandra Park tonight. It starts early on race four and brings together three trot races, two paces for grass track performers and a form-packed 2200m for the fillies and mares.
There aren't many, if any, anchors so percentage betting looks the way to go as a small divvy is unlikely.
Meanwhile, unbeaten New Zealand pacer Our Waikiki Beach is looking increasingly unlikely to get a start in his Breeders Challenge semifinal at Menangle tomorrow night, meaning he will miss the A$150,000 final on Sunday week.
Our Waikiki Beach's connections missed the nomination time by six minutes on Tuesday, forcing him to last in the rankings and being an emergency in the semis. No rivals have been scratched yet.
Purdon said no decision will be made on where the glamour colt goes next until Sunday at the earliest.
Eclipse Me (No6, R4, Alex Park): Might have the speed to cross them early and then have options.
Suited: Djokovic (No3, R6, Alex Park): Gets the perfect chance to step and lead without pressure.
Manners? War Machine (No11, R9, Alex Park): Big, raw juvenile but if he trots safely has the motor to win.