An extraordinary  meeting  of  fortune and  enterprise will accompany boom youngster Don’t Stop Dreaming’s quest for Sires Stakes Final victory on Friday

The  enterprise usually fathers the good luck but in this case chance  played a crucial role in Mark’s purchase of the colt as a yearling.

Dennis and Mark Dunford and Ian Dobson who became co-owners,have been here before,Ian Dobson  with  Christian Cullen the  1997 winner-he also won  the filly version in 2007 with Joyfuljoy from All Stars- while the Dunfords almost certainly have the best record on a winners to starters basis.

Buying just a few yearlings a year, sometimes just one, all selected by Mark, they are shooting for three wins in the last nine  renewals of the race with Have Faith In Me winning in 2014 and It’s All About Faith in 2020. In addition, Hands Christian was beaten a lip by Gold Ace in the memorable 2010 final and All U Need is Faith was 4th in 2017.Steve McQueen, Dennis Dunfords first horse at All Stars,and U Gotta Have Faith were unplaced.

The horse Mark, Sires Stakes trainer supreme, had sorted for them at the sales was Don’t Stop Dreaming. Ian Dobson often involved with All Stars however was not in the market.

Already armed with stars like Muscle Mountain and Purdon-trained  budding superstar, Akuta, not to mention several other racing and buying interests, Ian  was reluctant to add to the list.

“I checked with him beforehand  and Ian said he thought this year he had  enough youngsters as it was and I accepted  that “ Mark said

The first time the colt was offered the wrong horse came into the ring and the sale voided. Mark had already got a surprise about the Interest in the  Bettor’s Delight-Start Dreaming colt he had set his cap at buying for the Dunfords was attracting from major buyers  and he realised his $150,000 top estimate and top level budget for the father and son team wasn’t going to cut it.

“I was sizing up the options. There aren’t many that close to buying time. Then I saw Ian walking around near the sale ring seemingly on a mission.

“So I went up to him and said “looking for someone Ian ?” 

He said “Yes Mark, actually I was looking for you. It’s about buying a yearling. I have changed my mind”

On  such coincidences do the careers of many great horses lie.

But there was still a stumbling block to what seemed a last minute solution to Mark’s big problem. 

Since Dennis’s  first horse with Mark,Steve McQueen, (Harness Millions 2007) the Dunfords haven’t raced horses in partnership  preferring to be masters of their own destiny. Even a big spending American buyer who wanted a share in a horse they had bought had been rebuffed. With results like they have achieved, why change ? 

But Mark knew that there was personal warmth between the two parties  and Hands Christian was by the Dobson great Christian Cullen. And  Mark had offered Ian first option on  Akuta another high priced yearling.If there had to be a partnership solution this looked a good mix.There was a discussion and a  deal was done.

“We have always raced our own horses ourselves but we would not have been in at the $200,000 Mark thought Don’t Stop Dreaming could  go for. I had known Dobbie for many years. When we won the Miracle Mile with Have Faith In Me he and Janice were on the phone straight away. He was one we didn’t mind sharing with and I think he was very happy to be with us”

Just as well. Mark had to go to $250,000 to secure Don’t Stop Dreaming over strong opposition. It was  easily the most he had ever paid for a yearling. 

“I really liked the dam (Start Dreaming) “ Mark said. 

“Barry trained her but she ran against ours in Australia and she was tough and fast. She didn’t race a lot either”

Start Dreaming  did most of her racing in Australia.

She was second to The Orange Agent in a Breeder’s Crown final at three for Barry;won the Robin Dundee (G2) with Willow chasing her for All Stars and broke 1.52 running fifth in the $A200,000 Ladyship Mile after working hard. There were a host of smart fillies and mares about in her era and driver Blake Fitzpatrick rated her up with any of them.

Don’t Stop Dreaming, another  product of Brian West’s Studholme Bloodstock with  Graham  Gimblett involved went  back to the first major West enterprise, the  Yonkers Breeding Syndicates and the mare Awfully Nice.

“Dobbie” is often regarded as a “lucky’ owner and he has had his share of it but it has been amplified by shrewd investment and astute management.

From his first horse, the always willing, Jam Cover, (part of Ian’s business interests at the time) who was raced in partnership with longstanding associate Mike Fenton and trained by Mike De Filippi who was known to invite visitors to estimate their chances of  jumping  over the little mare, Ian quickly applied his business acumen to the horse racing and breeding business,backed his judgement and reaped the rewards.

 Don’t forget either he raced the outstanding galloper Royal Creation with a group of Christchurch golfing friends back in the 1980’s-Merv Rodgers a leading owner of the Tim Butt stable (Happy Asset,Take a Moment) ; Mike Reid; trainer Ray Pankhurst; and Brian Register co-owner of El Regale whom famous trainer George Noble planned to make our first two minute two year old on the early promise he showed.

There was certainly no special Dobson “luck” when Royal Creation went into a Group 1 race. He ran second in no less 7 of them in Australia -often beaten heads and necks -and had 10 first fours at that level including a Caulfield Cup. Yet,oddly, he was never to win a Group race.It is an unparallelled record in Group racing in Australasia but not one an owner particularly enjoys. Fortunately Dobbie’s fortunes were to change in that area

So Don’t Stop Dreaming,even though Merlin is not there and the plus of  an emphatic,earplugs left in, demolition of the rest in the heat last week, may still have a handicap on Friday. A remarkable 9th successive Purdon-trained winner  beckons (and number five for Natalie) for one, and  that illustrious  owner record on the line for another. 

As always though, fortune favours the brave.

PIC: Ian Dobson and Dennis Dunford celebrate Don’t Stop Dreaming’s 2yo Championship win at Addington last December


Pin It on Pinterest