Racing: Grass track likely to suit Falcon Crown

Cullens Spirit is one horse who could keep Robert Dunn's winning tally ticking over at Oamaru tomorrow. Photo by Matt Smith.
Cullens Spirit is one horse who could keep Robert Dunn's winning tally ticking over at Oamaru tomorrow. Photo by Matt Smith.
Robert Dunn's team have found their feet at Woodend Beach near Christchurch this season, but another type of surface should help Falcon Crown in the Oamaru Cup tomorrow.

The Christian Cullen gelding promised plenty early in his career, but endured a frustrating 2012, starting in the legs and ending in the lungs.

''He fractured a back pastern after his great early form,'' Dunn said.

''It wasn't a bad fracture, but we had to lock him up for three months, then put him out [in the paddock] for another three.''

Dunn aimed the Ian Dobson-owned 5yr-old at the New Zealand Cup carnival, but that came unstuck, too, as he ran a distant 10th behind Smiling Star on cup day.

''When we brought him back after all that time, we were very pleased with him going into cup week but it transpired that he had a lung infection.''

Falcon Crown was much better running on the the West Coast grass circuit before he over-raced at Blenheim on January 11, which flattened him for his run two days later.

Dunn thinks punters should take his grass-track form into account, particularly as his last grass-track run was behind Jason Rulz in the Reefton Cup. Jason Rulz went on to win the group 2 Pelorus Classic last Sunday.

''He came back [from Blenheim] bright as a button and that's why we nominated him late for the [Oamaru] Cup,'' he said.`We think he's got a much better chance back on the grass.''

Dunn is also confident with Cullens Spirit in the last event tomorrow. Dunn's son, Dexter, takes the reins and leading is the likely option - even from barrier number eight.

''He has got pretty good gate speed, so Dexter will be looking to lead and he'll be hard to bowl.''

Cullens Spirit also has Oamaru grass experience to fall back on, winning a heat of the invited brothers' series in November, and he was impressive winning on the grass at Waimate on December 16.

Dunn has 90% of his racing team based at Woodend Beach, while the joggers and young horses are stabled at West Melton. The formula is working a treat, as Dunn sits second on the trainers' premiership with 47 wins.

''We're pretty happy with how we're going. The beach is certainly a winner for us,'' Dunn said.

One of Falcon Crown's rivals in the $12,000 Oamaru Cup is Van Washing Man. His trainer, Ben Waldron, said the 3000m was the ideal type of race for him, although it would depend on which version of Van Washing Man turns up on the day. The 8yr-old Washington VC gelding has kept Waldron guessing for much of his career with his behaviour, although he has still eked out seven wins from 44 starts with him.

''I feel like the coach of the New Zealand Warriors sometimes,'' Waldron said.

''It's not a talent issue for him.''

Updates
Additional information for meetings today.-
Counties RC Riders:
Race 8: The Darling One - Michelle Wenn
Scratchings:
Race 9: Sacred Star
Weather, fine; track, good (3); rail out 2m.

Wellington RC
Scratchings:
Race 4: Bronte Walk, Magic Tricks
Race 5: Mato Grasso
Race 6: I Do
Weather, fine; track, dead (5); rail, true position.

Gore RC
Riders:Race 4: Langton Katie - Courtney Barnes; Roctagonal - Terry Moseley.

Scratchings:
Race 2: Tilly
Race 4: Drumreims, Nimbus Flight
Weather, fine; track, dead (5); rail, true position.