New Zealand-bred gelding Dunkel came with his trademark late run to prevail in the Gr.1 South Australian Derby (2500m) at Morphettville on Saturday under jockey Billy Egan for trainer Patrick Payne.
Despite standing the favourite Promises Kept a decent start inside the final furlong, Egan was confident his charge would give his all, and he went on to score by three-quarters of a length.
“When I left the straight the first time, I thought this is going to be easy. I was about fifth one off (the fence),” Egan said.
“But when it was time to go we got shuffled back, and we had to work our way through them, but he has that killer instinct.
“Every horse out there he wants to pass and that is what he did.
“The further we got into the straight, the harder my bloke tried, and when he sees a horse in front, he wants to pass it.
“Patrick left me a voice mail saying he left it all up to me. He left it an open book, as he usually does.
“Big thanks to Paddy and Annie de Morton, the whole team. It’s not just my first Group One, it’s all of ours together. We have been a team for a long time so I am just really happy we can enjoy It as a team – we’re all involved together.”
The win gave the low-key Payne his fifth Group One win as a trainer. He also rode the winner of the South Australian Derby, Bullwinkle, in 1994.
It was Dunkel’s sixth win from eight starts and he followed in the footsteps of Explosive Jack, who also won the Listed Tasmanian Derby (2200m) and Gr.1 South Australian Derby double two years ago.
Dunkel ran up four consecutive wins, including the Listed Launceston Guineas (2100m) and Tasmanian Derby, before pulling up lame when unplaced behind Bank Maur in the Gr.2 Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) at Moonee Valley on March 18.
In a remarkable training effort, the horse had gone the best part of two months between runs.
Dunkel’s part-owner Brendan Danaher, said it was an amazing training effort by Payne, who purchased the son of Dundeel at New Zealand Bloodstock’s Ready To Run Sale in the Covid year of 2021.
“He’s been an amazing horse the way he wins,” Danaher said.
“He sourced the horse from the Ready To Run Sale in New Zealand with the help of Kevin Myers. All credit to Patrick, he hasn’t raced for two months. It is just a sensational training job that he has done.”
Dunkel was bred by Sir Peter Vela’s Pencarrow Thoroughbreds and is out of the Cape Cross mare Kudamm.
A four-time winner and placed in the Listed South Island Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes (1600m), Kudamm is the dam of five winners from five foals to race.
In addition to Dunkel, Kudamm’s progeny include Mint Julep (5 wins), Remington (5 wins), Garfunkel (4 wins) and Marcolt (3 wins).
Dunkel was a $40,000 purchase from Pencarrow Stud’s Book 1 yearling draft at Karaka 2021 by Steven Ramsay.
Presented at the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale later that year through the Ohukia Lodge draft, Dunkel was purchased by Central Districts trainer Kevin Myers for $100,000 on behalf of long-time family friend Payne.
Following Dunkel’s South Australian Derby triumph, New Zealand bred horses have now won 30 percent (20 of 66) of the Group One races in Australia this season, yet account for just 8 percent of runners in Australia.