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Dunn Crowned World Champion

Published: February 28, 2015 9:58 pm ET

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New Zealand's Dexter Dunn was officially crowned the 2015 World Driving Champion after closing out the 20-heat international harness driving challenge with one final victory on Sunday, March 1 at Tabcorp Park Menangle in Australia during the Inter Dominion Grand Final card.

Ten top harness drivers from around the world travelled across New South Wales, Australia throughout the week competing in the 20 races for the World Driving Championship title. The event consisted of six legs at five different tracks, including Tabcorp Park Menangle, Newcastle, Wagga Wagga, Bathurst and Penrith.

Dunn had built up an insurmountable lead in the point standings to secure the championship title before returning to Tabcorp Park Menangle for the final heat on Sunday, but it was a close race for the remaining podium positions with four drivers in contention. France's Tony Le Beller secured second-place and USA's Tim Tetrick finished third. Finland representative Mika Forss was fourth while Canada's Jody Jamieson placed fifth in the final standings.

Dunn concluded a stellar week with his fifth win in the final heat, closing late with Global View for the victory over race leaders Heza Thrill and Spanish driver Guillermo Adrover. Norway's Vidar Hop finished third in the race aboard Elrama. Jamieson's mount, Shipwreck, was positioned third before breaking stride as the field turned for home.

"Even though I'd won the competition before today it's an extra special feeling to win the final heat. Especially on Inter Dominion Day," Dunn told Trot Insider. "My family has provided tremendous support. The cheering section is led by my Mom and to have my family here with me just means so much."

Dunn had won three straight heats in Wagga Wagga in addition to earning three second-place finishes. He added another win and two seconds in Bathurst and also finished second in a Penrith heat.

Dunn is New Zealand's sixth winner since the World Driving Championship began in 1970. He joins Kevin Holmes (1978), Robert Cameron (1983), Anthony Herlihy (1985), Maurice Mckendry (1991) and Mark Jones (2003) among Kiwi drivers to capture the world title.

The 25-year-old reinsman described the accomplishment as the biggest highlight of his career.

"It's really something to represent your country and then to win is amazing," he said. "This is a top quality group of drivers and just really great guys to spend time with.

"I've never been to Canada so I'm really looking forward to competing in 2017," added Dunn, who will look to defend the title when Canada hosts the next World Driving Championship in two years.

Jamieson, the 2001 and 2011 world champion, won three heats in the 2015 event. He picked up his first victory in the competition in the ninth heat at Wagga Wagga and won two of the three Penrith races putting him in contention for a top-three finish going into the final heat.

"I expected to be first or second in the last heat, but my horse made a break. It was the first time I've had a horse break in the competition, but that's how it goes sometimes," said Jamieson. "I was disappointed not to make the top three, but I started slow and that's how it goes. I had a lot of challenges early on -- learning the style, adapting to the distance races and recognizing the pace -- but it's been a fantastic experience and I've enjoyed every single minute."

The WDC tour also included numerous off-track activities with the drivers making stops at sites such as the Campbelltown Art Gallery, Nobbys Beach, Westpac Helicopter Rescue, Sunflower Cottage, Yirribee Stud Complex, Riverina Anglican College, Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, National Motor Racing Museum, Panthers Penrith Entertainment Centre and the Inter Dominion Ball.

Jamieson described the week as "one of the best weeks I've had in my life" noting that the "people here have been reminds me of Canada. Everyone has been so helpful.

"There were a lot of unexpected things on the agenda, but it was a lot of fun," said Jamieson. "Meeting the kids at the respite was so much made us all feel good. We went to the school and the kids didn't know who we were, but by the time we left they were all fans. Doing the iFly was unreal. The reception from the fans at all of the tracks has been fantastic. We met the rugby team and watched a workout and that was amazing. I expected to be received well at the tracks, but not at this level."

The final point standings are listed below.

1) Dexter Dunn - New Zealand - 200
2) Tony Le Beller - France - 146
3) Tim Tetrick - USA - 142
4) Mika Forss - Finland - 139
5) Jody Jamieson - Canada - 132
6) Knud Monster - Denmark - 122
7) Chris Alford - Australia - 119
7) Pierre Vercruysse - France - 119
9) Guillermo Adrover - Spain - 101
10) Vidar Hop - Norway - 100

For complete coverage of the 2015 World Driving Championship, including race replays, videos and photos from the event, click here.

(Standardbred Canada)

Adore Me Sets World Record

If Natalie Rasmussen set out to make Tabcorp Park Menangle her own today with three successive winners, she was overshadowed by one of the greatest pacers ever seen in the Southern Hemisphere.

...And one of the greatest race-winning performances ever witnessed at the south-western Sydney track.

Champion New Zealand mare Adore Me simply blew her rivals away with a record-breaking 1:47.3 victory in the Cordina Chicken Farms Ladyship Mile, smashing Smoken Up’s record by eight-tenths of a second.

Sitting outside of second favourite Frith, Adore Me smashed the track record set in 2011 and won the hearts of the massive crowd at Menangle for the TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion Grand Final.

They began applauding Adore Me as she surged away in the straight to win as she liked.

Rasmussen won three of the first four races on the big day but even she had to admit she was in awe of Adore Me’s performance as she put paid to Beauty Secret, Latteron and Frith by an amazing 18-1/2 metres. Remember, these are the best mares in Australasia!

“This is the first time I have sat behind Adore Me in race conditions and she is so beautifully-gaited and has such a great temperament – and she goes like a machine,” Rasmussen said as she accepted the trophy from sponsor John Cordina.

Rasmussen’s partner, leading trainer Mark Purdon, was happy to step aside for a driver that connections rate among the best drivers in the world.

And Rasmussen showed why, putting Adore Me into the 1609-metre (one mile) event early in the piece and declaring Australia’s best mare Frith on for the lead in a lightning second quarter of :26.9 for an opening half of :54 seconds.

She finished the race off with her last two quarters in :27.2 and :26.5 to set a record that will live long in the memory of all who were at Menangle today.

(Australian Harness Racing)

Beautide Wins Inter Dominion Grand Final

No one ever doubted he was a true champion! And today Australia’s best pacer Beautide showed he was a champion slayer as well.

The former Tasmanian son of Bettors Delight sat outside of the three-time New Zealand Cup winner Terror To Love and simply blew him away with a fabulous win in today’s $750,000 TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion Grand Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle.

When West Australian pacer David Hercules had a “look” for the ‘death seat,’ outside the leader early in the race, Beautide’s trainer/driver James Rattray declared it wasn’t there.

So he raced without cover for almost two miles and outstayed the best field seen in Australia this summer for a sterling performance, rating 1:55.8 for his last mile to beat outsider Flaming Flutter and the fast-finishing For A Reason.

Flaming Flutter (Greg Sugars) had a perfect one-one trail behind Beautide throughout the race and finished well without ever threatening the winner, to be beaten 13.9m with For A Reason, who raced three back on the pegs, emerging late for a flashing third, a further 1.4m back.

“It wasn’t ideal, he threw a shoe, he was feeling above himself, but that’s the way we like to race him,” Rattray said after the win.

“After the way he won his heat, I was confident we’d go well today.

“This horse looks to be labouring until you ask him to go.”

Rattray said there was a good chance he would head to Perth later this year for the next Inter Dominion.

“The $1.3m prize money is a tremendous incentive and the three-week carnival will also suit 'Beau' as it gives me time to prepare him for each heat and the final,” he said.

“Beau’s given us such a tremendous journey. We love him to death.”

James’ father Barrie, who bred Beautide, was even more succinct: “How did we even get here?” he said. “It’s been a strange journey, changing properties and so on.

“But how lucky are we to have a beautiful horse like Beautide?”

(Australian Harness Racing)

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