Dream Realised for Breeders’ Boss, Colin Hair

22 November 2020

Robert Dunn with Colin & Nancy Hair after winning the 2020 Majestic Son Dominion Trot

by Jonny Turner

A year of planning saw Colin and Nancy Hair achieve the impossible when Sundees Son wowed a packed Show Day crowd with his stunning win in the Majestic Son Dominion Trot.

The word impossible did not come into punters’ minds ahead of the prized Group 1 feature as they sent the Majestic Son six-year-old out the hottest of favourites for Addington’s trotting showcase.

And Sundees’ Son’s Canterbury breeder-owners certainly did not think the race was any kind of impossibility either.

But rewind two or more decades to when Colin Hair would call into Addington for a beer and a punt after work and the thought of winning a Dominion were a pipe dream and he would have just about told you it was impossible.

“You don’t really dream of these things, because they seem unattainable, really,” Hair said.

“It has to be our biggest thrill, being a Canterbury fellow.”

“Even when I first started going to the races I used to call into Addington on a Friday night.”

“Working in town, you would call in and have a few beers and watch a few races.”

“And I have always been a fan of the trotters.”

“I have been to more Dominions and Show Day races than I have been to the Cup.”

“The Cup itself, I recognise it as a pinnacle, but I have never thought of really having an interest in having a horse running in it or anything.”

Having the favourite for the Dominion is familiar territory for the Hairs.

The breeder-owners, together with trainer Robert Dunn and his son and driver, John, made the call to withdraw the horse from the event last year.

Just three days out the horse made another in a series of mistakes that were set to make his team’s 2019 Dominion dream an impossibility.

While it was not pleasant at the time, the Dunn and Hair camp set out crafting a plan to win the race the following year.

The plan must have been a good one because it produced the fastest ever win in the race’s history.

“If you look at a year ago where we were, we pulled the plug on him the day after Cup Day,” Hair said. “We pulled him out and at that stage, he was the favourite for the Dominion and the Interdominion.”

“We sat down and we thought that the target and the focus of his whole programme and everything would be aimed at the 2020 Dominion.”

Sundees Son gave the Hairs a scare that he could be up to his old tricks when galloping in his return at Addington in July.  The horse quickly put that performance behind him when producing stunning wins in the Ordeal Trotting Cup and the New Brighton Trotting Cup.

Just when his trotting action looked faultless, the six-year-old gave his camp another fright with a gallop in the last lap of the South Bay Trotter’s Cup at Kaikoura. And while it made his fans and punters nervous heading into the Dominion, the Hair camp did not get as flustered as many others.

“Kaikoura was probably just a turn the page sort of thing,” Hair said.

“It wasn’t the horse’s fault, as John has put his hand up for and commented on.”

“It was basically him grabbing hold of the horse and it was at the worst possible place on that track with no camber.”

Punters and trotting fans know what to expect from Sundees Son. His talented can not be questioned, but his manners certainly can. And though the Kaikoura incident did not perturb the Hairs, it could not be considered a rarity, because the breeder-owners have been through so much anguish in the past.

“Sunny is always a hard watch, as you could appreciate,” Hair said.

“Nancy did an analysis over lockdown and at that stage, he had had just over 40 races and he had won 14 at that stage.”

“And of the races – that he didn’t win and he didn’t gallop in – there were only four!”

“And of course he has galloped in some of his wins, too.”

With his manners largely in check and the niggling issues that plagued Sundees Son’s last campaign behind him, his camp will now set up a run at each of the country’s biggest trotting races.

“We would like to just attack the Group 1 races for the rest of the season,” Hair said.

“They will basically be hit and run missions.”

“He will go to Auckland for the National Trot, then he will come back to Addington for the Fred Shaw NZ Trotting Championship. “Then he will be back to Auckland for the ANZAC and Rowe Cups.”

Missions further afield are being considered for Sundees Son, who as a Dominion and Rowe Cup winner has more than earned a shot at an Australian trip.

Whether that happens or not in the near future will largely depend on how COVID19 affects the ability of his camp to go with him.

“The races we are interested in would be the Interdominion and the Great Southern Star.”
“To me, it is not just a case of sending the horse over there and just bowling around. “I would want to go boots n all.”

“I want to go over there and I want Robert and John to be training and driving him. “We wouldn’t just do it from the point of view of attacking those two races. I would want to do it with the team and in the name of the team.”

While his fans would undoubtedly be keen to see Sundees Son show his class in Australia, a much more scintillating clash awaits.

With the National Trot and ANZAC Cup already on his programme, a meeting with brilliant four-year-old Bolt For Brilliance awaits.

The matchup will be a purists dream and must rate as the clash of the two most rawly talented trotters in recent seasons.