Smoken Up’s breeder – Stan Dunlop – still kicking goals on both sides of the Tasman

By Duane Ranger

Multiple Group One winning triple millionaire pacer, Smoken Up, and the dam of last Thursday’s (June 22) Cambridge winner, Smoken Sue, and as well unbeaten Shepparton winner Smoken Ace, all have one unmistakable common denominator…. Irish-Kiwi-breeder, Stan Dunlop.

The retired engineer, shearer, and milk tanker driver, said Smoken Up and Smoken Sue both hailed from the same 1955 six-win U Scott – Diana Grattan (Josedale Grattan) mare, Dinnakin.

Stan and Caroline Dunlop

“I actually bred from four different mares from that family at the same stage, and that’s where the ‘Smoken’ bloodlines originated from,” Dunlop said.

The 76-year-old, who also shore more than 500 sheep a day, in his heyday, said he loved breeding and hoped to do it for as long as he could, despite having climbed the Everest of standardbred breeding ‘Down Under’.

Dunlop, who came to New Zealand on a two-week holiday via Australia from his native Ireland in 1966 aged 20, and never went home, said he would have been on-course on Thursday to watch the third foal (of five) win race four.

“It was such a horrible, foul evening I decided to stay home and watch the races on TV. I should have gone because I liked Whooshka a lot, and I’m pleased for the owners. I think she will make a very nice broodmare for them as well,” Dunlop said.

Whooshka, a Sportswriter – Smoken Sue (Elsu), notched up her fourth win in 25 starts for owners Carolyn Henley; and Grant Stone – who co-bred Whooshka with Dunlop.

David Marshall trains the 5-year-old bay at Cambridge Raceway. She was driven by Michelle Northcott in the first heat of the New Zealand Amateur Drivers Championships. Whooshka, who was the favourite, won the Up to R50 Pace by one-and-a-half lengths.

Whooskam winning back in 2021 with Kyle Marshall

Dunlop, his wife Caroline and friends Dennis (Butch) Monk and Elizabeth (Disssy) Monk  only bred one foal out of the 1997 Camtastic – Denmark (Mark Lobell) mare Carnlough bay – that being the 2002 Tinted Cloud colt, Smoken Up.

“She died three weeks before she was due to foal carrying a full brother to Smoken Up. We lost both the mare and foal and were devastated by it. Who knows how many champions she could have left?, “ Dunlop said.

He’s also aware that he will more than likely never breed another record-breaking 1:48.5 standardbred who won 74 of his 153 starts and $3.6m on both sides of the Tasman.

“He won just about every big race going around. Gee I really enjoyed it when Lance Justice had him. Of course, the Butcher family did a great job with him in Cambridge before that.

“But breeding standardbreds has always given me a great thrill, and while I have a nice broodmare to breed from I’ll always carry on.

“It’s in my blood. It’s what I’ve done since I first got involved with Bold Belle (1976 Jurist – Donna Mac – Scutari one-win mare) more than 40 years ago,” Dunlop said.

Whooshka’s mother is currently in foal to Bettors Delight. Dunlop said he was likely to go back to Captain Crunch, especially after the way his Captain Crunch yearling filly named, Crunchen Su, turned out.

“I think Captain Crunch is going to be a top sire. This filly is so good looking, strong, exceptional, and clever. I’d love to have a colt by him.

“Kyle (Marshall) said this filly was the most intelligent smartest young foal he had ever seen. That’s something. That’s so encouraging, because you are half-way there when they’ve got a head,” Dunlop said.

The Coleraine (50 miles south of Belfast) bred and educated Dunlop, also had a lot of time for a 2-year-old Sportswriter colt named, Smoken Ace, who is a full brother to Whooshka.

“He’s a nice horse and is the first 2-year-old out of the family to make it to the races. Kyle told me he had gears, and he can change them up at will,” Dunlop said.

Smoken Ace certainly did exactly that at Shepparton in race four last Friday (June 16) when he won on debut by 3.1 metres with a 1:56.4-mile rate. It was Marshall’s second training success from six starts across the Tasman.

Then on June 27, Smoken Ace went two-for-two at Shepparton, when he sat parked and ran aw ay from his five opponents to win by 6.4m with a 1:59.6 mile rate.

“Whooshka is the middle of the five foals Smoken Su has so far left.

“I gifted my third share in Whooshka to Kyle as a thank-you. I saw a lot of potential in him as a young trainer when he started out. Whooshka is a lovely big mare who can win a race or two more in the right grade. If I kept her she would probably have been in foal now,” Dunlop said.

He said Smoken Su’s first two foals were the 2013 Gotta Go Cullect four-win gelding, Magilligan Point, and the 2015 Changeover three-win (NZ) mare, Smoken Shazza.

“Magilligan Point won four races before he died in a paddock accident and Smoken Shazza won three races here before we did a 50-50 deal with Australia.

She has since won three more races in Australia – the last for John Justice, and in December she left a Lennytheshark bay colt.

Dunlop said he ventured into Whooshka’s family 40 years ago when he bought Denmark (1981 unraced Mark Lobell – Dinnaken – U Scott mare) at the 1993 Mixed Aged Sale in Palmerston North in 1993.

“I also bought  Mathias in 2008 as numbers were getting low and she is the grand-dam of Whooshka.”

“I think the strong connection between Smoken Up and this family is Mark Lobell. He was a super sire who has installed good blood into both breeds,” Dunlop said.

Dunlop, who has owned a couple of engineering businesses in his working life, is married to Caroline, and they have a daughter named Abby and two grandchildren – Chloe (8) and Reuben (4).

“None of this would have been possible had it not been for family, especially my wife. She is the backbone of everything I do and without her none of this breeding and owning caper would have happened.

“I’m very proud that her name is alongside Smoken Up and every horse we bred, including Whooshka, and those still to come.

“Whoever would have thought an Irishman would say this, but harness racing is well and truly entrenched in my blood and it’s bloody hard to get it out,” he joked.

So, was Dunlop smoking the electric lettuce when he named Smoken Up?

“Hell no, but I’ve been asked that a lot. When Butch Dennis and I bred him we were looking for names, and Tinted Cloud and ‘smoken’ kind of went together.

“But what sealed it was when he was a yearling he would hear my whistle and come screaming up to the gate, slide on his bum and almost crash into the fence.

“I was worried sick every time he’d reply to the whistle. He would smoke to us at a hell of a speed and I never knew if he was going to injured himself or not,” Dunlop said.

“As for Su, that came from Elsu,” he added.