Donegal's Guest gains just reward
With consecutive second placings behind Classiesistar, Franco Nattai and Comply Or Die in his last three starts, there was never going to be a more deserving victor yesterday than Donegal's Guest.
The Robert Dunn-trained, John Dunn-driven pacer backed up some stellar recent performances to stave off all challenges in the Nelson Cup Prelude on the opening day of the two-day summer meeting at Richmond Park.
Donegal's Guest was allowed to freewheel in front and just when it looked as though Woodlea Legend was going to run by halfway down the testing Nelson straight, Dunn extracted a little more energy from his drive and the under-rated pacer forged clear to win.
That bodes well for tomorrow's Summer Cup where Donegal's Guest is now expected to start a warm favourite.
The son of Christian Cullen is owned by Terry McDonald, who also races New Zealand Trotting Cup hero Terror To Love. McDonald races Donegal's Guest with good mate Eddie Griffin, and the horse began his career in the stable of Tim Butt where he won four races from 28 starts.
Since joining the Dunn team on the beach out at Woodend in North Canterbury, he has raced on nine occasions for two wins, four seconds a third and two fourths.
Woodlea Legend showed he will be a force to be reckoned with tomorrow with his fast-finishing second for Ricky May, while Angus T Jones whacked away solidly for third.
Earlier in the day, Jackie Burrows ended an almost eight-year absence from the winners' circle as a trainer when Seven Point One took out the one mile fillies and mares feature.
The Prebbleton trainer, who has recently taken out her licence again, had only taken the speedy mare to the races four times prior to yesterday but a fearless front-running drive from Jamie Keast saw the former smart juvenile untouchable as she dashed away to win in 1min 56sec for the 1609m journey.
Burrows' last winner came in 2006 with Gold Mahogany at Forbury Park.
Gavin Smith was in good form early yesterday picking up a race-to-race double with Bettor Not Knowing and Tricky Girl.
The brace continued a useful couple of weeks for Smith who was in good form on the West Coast circuit last week. He also picked up placings with All Shook Up and Finding Nemo.
■ Time restraints have meant tomorrow's fields could not be published.