Lemond does Hunter proud in Dominion

Charlie Hunter - Trish Dunell
Charlie Hunter

Trish Dunell

Harness Racing legend and Cambridge local, Charlie Hunter, has fond memories of the Gr.1 Dominion Trot (3200m) and they were further enhanced with a brave third-placing by Lemond in the time-honoured race at Addington Raceway on Friday.

Hunter part-owns the son of Love You, who is trained at Cambridge Raceway by his co-breeder Ross Paynter, and said he was pleased with his gelding’s efforts in the race, which was won in dominant fashion by the Ken Ford-trained Marcoola.

“It was a strange race, they weren’t going any speed for the first mile and he was in behind Speeding Spur and no one was going anywhere,” Hunter said. “The eventual winner (Marcoola) was too speedy for them when it mattered.

“He was late getting clear and it was nice that he nosed through and picked up third anyway.”

Hunter said it was fairly congested late in the running which resulted in Lemond breaking shortly after crossing the finish line.

“There was so much congestion there. Maurice McKendry (driver) was in the (stipendiary steward) room there being questioned about the tightening up and I was in there as well and he said there was pressure coming from the outside and inside and it was tight quarters.”

Lemond was backing-up after Tuesday’s disappointing fourth-placing in the Gr.1 New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All (1980m) at Addington and Hunter said a change in bit resulted in a better performance from the six-year-old on Friday.

“He got bearing in on the turn in (on Tuesday) and clipped about three of the inside markers, so we had a change of bit and just made a couple of subtle changes and he was so much better on Friday,” he said.

“It was a shame, because he would have been very close if he had maintained the back of Speeding Spur around the turn on Tuesday.”

Hunter has a great association with the Dominion. He scored his first Group One victory as a driver in the race in 1963 behind Min Scott and won it again in 1967 with French Pass.

Although he hasn’t secured victory in the race since then, he has come close. He trained Jenner to a number of placings, while in recent times he has secured a couple of placings as an owner with Monarchy gelding Sovereignty and now Lemond.

“I won the Dominion in 1963 with a mare that my mother owned and Dad trained,” Hunter said. “It was our first Group One win in that race.

“I did win it again three or four years later for Roy McKenzie with a horse called French Pass. After that Jenner had run a couple of placings and Sovereignty had been second, but we haven’t repeated it.”

Both Lemond and Sovereignty were purchased by Hunter at the yearling sales and he is hoping his most recent sales acquisition can help break his drought in the great race.

“We’ve got Lemond going around and we have got a nice two-year-old who’s out spelling at the moment that we bought at the last yearling sales at Auckland,” Hunter said.

“He’s by Pegasus Spur, the sire of Speeding Spur, and seems a nice type. He’s out of Landora’s Pride’s (1988 Dominion Handicap winner) family, so we have got our fingers-crossed that he will develop. He won’t race until he is three.”

Meanwhile, Hunter said Lemond has pulled up well after his run in the Dominion and he is looking forward to watching him tackle some northern feature races over the coming months.

“He came out of the race well and he starts his journey home today (Saturday),” he said.

“On December 14 there’s the Lyell Creek, a $50,000 race at Auckland and a fortnight after that is the $100,000 National Trot at Auckland and then there’s the races at Cambridge.

“So there is a little bit ahead of him. Of course the guns will be there, but that’s part of the territory he’s in.” – Cambridge Raceway


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