Dashing Elson Sends Lunn Into Country Championships A Winner

Last time Dar Lunn had a runner in the Newhaven Park Country Championships Final his horse was a $201 chance, when he heads to Randwick with the dashing front-runner Elson Boy he’ll at least be considered a hope of stealing the $1 million race.

That horse was Not For Export, who in 2017 was called up to contest the final having running third in the regional championships, when runner-up La La Loopsy was ruled out, and finished a gallant third behind Free Standing.

This time around Lunn heads there with a winning horse after Elson Boy staved off the Brett Robb-trained favourite Gallant Star to win the $150,000 Newhaven Park WRA Country Championships (1400m) at Coonamble.

Lunn sought out Tommy Berry for the ride at Coonamble and the star Sydney hoop delivered, and might well have found his ride in the Final. Elson Boy’s win saw him installed a $26 chance for Randwick on April 6.

Elson Boy holds off Gallant Star to win the Newhaven Park WRA Country Championships at Coonamble (Pic: Janian McMillan)

“I thought I might have got beat right on the line,’’ Lunn said.

“I knew I was in front off the line, on the line I thought I could have got beat. When you get a bloke like Tommy Berry on it’s a big help.”

Elson Boy was still a maiden a year ago, he broke through for his first win at start ten on March 19 last year, but he’s come of age since then with the Championships win his fifth.

It was in that maiden win that Lunn discovered the four-year-old would produce his best as a free runner.

“Twelve months ago he won a maiden at Orange and drew the extreme outside and I said to Jake Pracey-Holmes, who rode him, go forward and lead on him and he did,’’ Lunn said.

“And he won nicely and we tipped him out for this race and he’s come back and he hasn’t put a foot wrong.”

Berry wasted no time in finding the lead and had Lunn’s description of the horse in his mind as he drove him to the front.

He was challenged by Listen To The Band, last year’s winner, and fought off that bid before it was left to Gallant Star to make a late dive.

“He said he’s tough, he’ll just keep giving for you,’’ Berry said.

“To be honest I never felt the winner anywhere bar the last 100m. He was just way too good.

“This guy has been placed really well to get into the Final, I haven’t got a ride for the Final yet but I guess I’ve got one now.”

Gallant Star’s jockey Sam Clipperton said the result was a little bittersweet given he didn’t win the race but achieved the goal of ensuring the gelding is in the Final, where he’s on the third line as an $8 chance.

Clipperton said he thought he’d arrived in time but was more than pleased with Gallant Star’s effort given the head start he gave away in the run.

“The positive out of a negative, we came here to get the horse into the Final. He’s run second so he’s in,’’ he said.

“Brett’s had the horse set for the final so far out and other than winning today it’s all gone to plan.

“The pace was strong the whole way, there was no rest. I came up a centimetre short.”

– Racing NSW

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