Options open with Von Tunzelman

Leith Innes scoring his fifth win of the day at Te Rapa last Sunday aboard the exciting Von Tunzelman.

Leith Innes scoring his fifth win of the day at Te Rapa last Sunday aboard the exciting Von Tunzelman.

Despite scoring a courageous win at Te Rapa last Sunday, smart Cambridge galloper Von Tunzelman is not a guaranteed starter in the $80,000 Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship at Ellerslie.

Trainer Roger James has him entered for the 2200-metre special conditions event on New Year’s Day, but is unsure whether to press ahead.

“The option is there, but I don’t know whether it’s the best race for him at this stage,” said James. ”It could be a big ask. There’s bigger fish to fry later on.

“We’ve given him time now and maybe it would be best to look for other options rather than step him up over ground so soon. I’ll look to give him another mile race somewhere and go from there.”

Owned and bred by Brendan and Jo Lindsay, Von Tunzelman has the breeding to say it is all before him, being a Zabeel four-year-old son of the top-class mare J’Adane.

Raced by the Lindsays, J’Adane won only one race (a 1200m at Eagle Farm), but she proved herself in top company, being placed in seven Group races.

She was runner-up to Tuesday Joy in the Gr.2 Wakeful Stakes at Flemington as a three-year-old and went on to be Group One placed when third in the Winter Stakes at Eagle Farm, third behind Seachange in the Gr.1 Mudgway Partsworld Stakes and a frustratingly close second (beaten a half-head by Princess Coup) in the 2007 Kelt Capital Stakes, her final racetrack appearance.

Von Tunzelman is a long way off the $594,000 J’Adane earned in her 17 starts, but he has the makings of a top-class performer.

He looked good when winning his debut at Te Aroha last April and was then runner-up at Te Rapa before going out for a spell. On returning he was third at Te Rapa on September 14 then seventh on the same track 16 days later.

“I wasn’t happy with him after that run, but I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong,” said James. “He didn’t have a (high) temperature and he seemed well in himself.

“We walked him for a week and I did say to his owners we might send him home to freshen-up. We walked him another week then I gave him a trial (at Cambridge on November 9) and he was back to his old self.”

Von Tunzelman finished fourth in that 1200-metre trial and on the strength of that performance James was expecting him to be hard to beat last Sunday. Von Tunzelman did live up to expectations, but he did it the hard way.

“It was a very good effort,” said James. “You don’t often see them sitting three-wide facing the breeze then pushing forward coming to the turn and doing what he did.

“It was huge run and he’s pulled up well.”

Von Tunzelman completed a double for the James stable last weekend, following on from the win of exciting Killarney at Ellerslie.

“We’ve had a slow start to the season with the wet tracks and such so it was very pleasing to see them both win like they did,” said James. ”They’re two smart horses.”