By Ray Hickson
Matthew Dunn is yet to decide if he’ll be represented in the 100th running of the TAB Highway Handicap at Warwick Farm on Saturday but he’s certain the concept has been a winner for his stable.
The Murwillumbah trainer has been the most successful with 13 wins from the 99 Highway races conducted since the inaugural running in October 2015.
And with those successes has come a flow on effect that he didn’t expect.
“As soon as we started winning a few Highway races the publicity around it has been so good for attracting a new client base,’’ Dunn said.
“The business that it has generated is amazing. I can win three races in Brisbane on a Saturday and nobody knows but you win one Highway race and everybody seems to find out.’’
Most Successful Highway Trainers And Jockeys
|Matthew Dunn||13||Koby Jennings||8|
|Danny Williams||10.5||Tye Angland||6|
|Matthew Dale||10||Hugh Bowman||6|
|Terry Robinson||5||Tommy Berry||5|
|B Joseph/P Jones||4||Jay Ford||5|
Since Dunn perfected the process of sending horses from Murwillumbah to Sydney – helped in no small way by wife Keira running the show – the winners have flowed.
Dunn has three horses nominated for Saturday’s 100th TAB Highway (1600m) – Vivid Pink, Dia de Reyes and Isla Tristana - and said he may send one to Sydney but if he doesn’t he’ll certainly be making the long trip plenty more times in 2018.
“Travelling helps most horses and you get the added bonus that you’re only meeting country horses,’’ Dunn said.
“We have the structure in place and Keira spends three days a week down there when they travel on Wednesday night.
“It’s a little tricky so close to Christmas but it’s a big part of the business and it is very important to us.’’
The winner of the inaugural Highway Handicap, run with 13 starters at Randwick on October 17 in 2015, was the Neville Layt-trained Grand Proposal.
Since then there have been another 1140 horses make the trip to Sydney and only 14 horses have won more than one Highway.
A $200,000 Anniversary Highway was run on the undercard to The Everest in October and proved so popular it spawned a Consolation race on the same day.
Dunn, of course, has trained the most winners with 13 (from 45 starters) and his horses have taken home over $560,000 in prizemoney from over $5.3 million on offer to date.'
Goulburn trainer Danny Williams has started the most horses with 91 and his horse Tiger By The Tale has been the most prolific starter with 16 attempts (for one win).
From a punting angle, three of the six odds-on favourites have been successful while 46 of the 99 winners have started $4.99 or less.
Here’s some other interesting facts about the 99 Highway Handicaps to date:
Longest Priced winner: Bootlegging $71
Shortest Priced winner: Don’t Give A Damn $1.65
Highest Weight: Ocean Grand, Star Shaft 60.5kg
Biggest winning margin: Don’t Give A Damn 6-1/2L
Highest BM winner: Wonderbolt 77
Lowest BM winner: Mr Spin 50
Leading prizemoney earner: Suncraze $127,850