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DEXTER DUNN: 1000 winning drives


Dexter has his 1000 wins.

It doesn't really seem that long ago that he was a "skinny kid" just getting his driving career underway. And here he is, seven years and 5664 drives later, and the number has raced past 1000.

This fast train of success started in New Zealand when Dexter was 17, winning at Addington with Crusader Franco, trained by his father, Robert. It peaked in the first race on the same track last Friday night when his 1000th winning salute came with the maiden trotter, No Potato.

The hard facts in between this show of remarkable youthful talent are these:

* his first winner was The Ultimate One at Geelong in September, 2006 - one of 24 drives when he was working for Andy Gath.

* three times he's driven six winners at a meeting, and it's been five on 10 occasions.

* 285 winners have been at Addington, 168 at Forbury Park and 101 at Ascot Park.

* HRNZ's marketing department reports that 366 winners have been trained by Cran Dalgety and 66 for Graeme Anderson and Amber Hoffman.

* He's just over 23. Mark Jones, who was the previous fastest to 1000, was 29 and took 12 years.

* He has won five premierships, and is on the way to winning a 6th.

* His UDR of .2817 has only been bettered by Mark Purdon (.2976) amongst those who have won 1000 races.

* his main horse helpers have been Donegal Delight(13), Texican(12), Smiling Shard(11) and Bettor's Strike(11).

While winning 1000 races is a huge feather in the cap of achievments, it joins others of equal significance, notably says Dexter: "Winning the Victoria Cup with Bettor's Strike was special. Representing New Zealand in the World Drivers' Championship was another. Getting on the front page of 'The Press' during Cup Week was good for everyone, and winning the Sportsman of the Year award here and beating Richie McCaw was up there, and he is my hero."

Dexter said it has been "a great journey. A far as my horses go, Smiling Shard has been pretty special, and of course the help I've had from Cran, that's really been everything to my career. I've had great support from so many people, but I also go to meetings and have my share of bad drives, too," he said.

The guiding hand and influence of Dalgety cannot be understated. "He's been with me the best part of five years and considering the high success he's had, it's in no way altered his personality. When he came here and was making nistakes in those first six or 12 months, my owners were saying 'who is this skinny kid you're putting up'. It was an issue, so I was doing a bit of patch-up work behind the scene." said Dalgety.

It didn't last long. Dexter went from four wins one seson to 146 the next, and in demand. "that also brought some jealousy, people wanting to give him bottom rib jabs. It happens everywhere when there's success. He was trying so hard and doing his best, but you still get the rock thowers . That hurt him. But we worked on that and he got hard and rode it through."
Dalgety said it came with being the 'Dan Carter' of the business. "And it's been good for my side of it. It has attracted new owners who see the chance of having Dexter on their horse, and it's had a snowball effect."

Another plus Dalgety has noticed is the development of Dexter's brother John. "They are very close, and if John was an adequate driver before, he has gone past that now, and it's apparent they now complement each other in the background."

Also on the cheerful side of Dexter's maturity is his ability to handle the banter when it can be sensitive. "We can get a big crew in for morning tea and there's a lot of chat that's usually healthy. He can get a bit of flak and he takes it."

In seven years, it's been a slick and focused performance. For the complete package of professionalism, Dexter has set the bar at a level that few, if any, will reach.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 5Dec12

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