By Julieanne Horsman
He was pipped at the post in the Listed Magic Millions Cup on the Gold Coast last month but Perfect Dare was all alone for his moment in the sun this afternoon.
The odds on favourite blew his rivals away for a five-length victory in the $150,000 Northern Rivers Racing Association Country Championships Heat at Clarence River Jockey Club in Grafton.
He also broke the course record for the 1400m race with a time of 1:21:40.
“We went into this race expecting him to win but watching him do it so decisively was satisfying,” Murwillumbah-based trainer Matthew Dunn said.
With jockey Jim Byrne aboard, Perfect Dare won the start and was eased back to travel fifth.
As soon as they turned for home he took off, running down Clang’s Victory and leader Hotel Drive, before kicking away to an dominant victory.
“He had a few favours in the race but Jim gave him space in the straight which is exactly what the horse needs,” Dunn said.
“Jim knows the horse very well and their record is near perfect so I will be keeping him on for the final.”
The win earned Perfect Dare the first place in the $400,000 Country Championships Final at Royal Randwick on Saturday, 1 April.
It was also a first for Matthew Dunn who came agonisingly close to qualifying a runner last year.
His entries Legendary Luke, Quatronic and Carton ran 3rd, 4th and 5th in the heat where only the first two progress to Sydney.
Outside chance, Free Standing, secured the second place in the final.
The four-year-old gelding ridden by Raymond Spokes charged late and just managed to scrape in for second place.
Coffs Harbour-based trainer Cathleen Rode did her best not to get carried away.
“We’re off to Sydney if he pulls up OK,” she said.
Strongly supported local hope, Hotel Drive, finished 3rd with Dunn’s Madame De Ban running 4th.
“Madame De Ban and Delightful Feeling ran well,” Dunn said.
“I might take them down to the wildcard heat at Muswellbrook next month and give them a shot at qualifying there.”
The next Country Championships heat will be staged in Goulburn this Saturday, followed by Dubbo on Sunday.