Dexter’s done it, that is!
As the youngest son of accomplished Harness Racing trainer Robert Dunn, Dexter Dunn needs no introduction within the industry and is currently in his tenth full season of race driving at the tender age of 27.
Dexter began his career as a Junior Driver back in the 2006/7 season driving in both Australia and New Zealand and was quickly on his way to establishing a stellar career.
In only his second season as a Junior Driver, he was already breaking records, notching up an amazing 146 wins for the 2007/8 season, together with 109 seconds and 103 thirds, for $1,384,437 in stakes and a remarkable UDR of .2847. This set a new mark for wins by a Junior Driver in New Zealand, eclipsing the previous best set by Mark Jones of 100 wins in 1999/2000; the one and only time the ton had been reached before. Not only was it a new mark for Junior Drivers, Dexter was to win the Open Drivers Premiership that season, accomplishing the unprecedented feat as a Junior Driver.
The following season, still as a Junior Driver, Dexter lifted the bar even further, attaining the remarkable figure of 204 wins, before dropping back to 168 wins in 2009/10 and then going on to establish a new NZ Record for a Junior Driver of 220 wins in the 2010/11 season. This has also stood as a record for an Open Driver in any one season, with the previous best by another driver being 161 wins achieved by Maurice McKendry in the 1988/89 season.
With his win onboard Mistahmistah in the final race at Addington last Friday night (7th July), Dexter was to exceed his previous personal best in a season and reach a total of 221 wins for the 2016/17 season, setting a new New Zealand Record and at the same time bringing up his New Zealand win number 2,000, to join the very elite 2000-winners club that previously had only four members; Tony Herlihy, Maurice McKendry, Ricky May and David Butcher.
Mistahmistah is trained by Dexter’s long-time employer and supplier of many of his drives, Cran Dalgety, so it was fitting that the record should be broken and that Dexter should join the 2,000-winners club, driving a horse trained by Cran.
Dexter said on the Harness Half-Hour show this week, “I’m pretty honoured really, to be part of the group I’m part of now … I’m pretty lucky that I’ve gotten to drive all the horses I’ve driven over the past 10 years to get me those wins and get me into that group.”
With his now eclipsing the double century again this current season, Dexter has achieved this remarkable feat on no less than five occasions in his already distinguished career.
Dexter has won the last nine NZ Drivers Premierships, bettering Peter Wolfenden’s eight consecutive Premiership titles, set from 1975-1982 and is now virtually assured of winning this year’s title, his tenth, giving him the most consecutive Drivers Premiership wins in NZ Harness Racing driving history, surpassing his own record.
This season Dexter is currently sitting on 221 wins, 38 wins ahead of Blair Orange, so certainly appears to be assured of the title once again. He now has an almost unbelievable average of over 200 wins per season for the last nine years, made even more remarkable as no other driver has ever achieved the mark even once before.
Dexter has achieved huge results in his relatively short career to date, with career statistics in New Zealand of 10,600 starts, 2,000 wins, 1,451 seconds, 1,145 thirds, $19,636,921 in stakes and a UDR of .3007.
He also holds the NZ Record for stake earnings by a driver in a season set in the 2013/14 season, with $2,220,136 and is getting perilously close to breaking that record too, currently having notched up $2,206,866 for the 2016/17 season.
Dexter has said that two highlights stand out for him; winning the World Drivers Championships in NSW in 2015and gaining his 1000th career win on his favourite Addington track in late November 2012, driving No Potato, but I’m sure this latest win will be very special for him too.
Dexter has sacrificed much of himself as he undertakes many hectic programmes of drives around the country and has been known to make as many as 242 flights in one year travelling to race meetings to complete driving engagements, to allow him to steadily blown away most longstanding driving records in New Zealand and he looks set to break even more in the future, so good luck Dexter for the rest of the season.
Dexter has two more weeks to complete his season, as he will then miss the last weekends racing of the season, as he leaves for North America and a brief holiday before his defence of the World Drivers Championship title in Canada in August. Dexter is of course the defending champion.
It will be Dexter’s third championship and he claims it will be the highlight of the season for him; although that must be seriously challenged by the double feat he has just achieved.
Leading trainer Mark Purdon, is also to attend the 2017 World Driving Championships as New Zealand’s representative, so the country will be well represented and we wish both Mark and Dexter all the best for the series.