Dar Lunn battles back from stroke as winners start to pile up

Dar Lunn will have Praline racing in Sunday’s Wellington Town Plate. Photo: Racing Photography.

Dar Lunn isn’t usually one to talk about himself, or his personal battles, with the former jockey turned successful trainer comfortable in letting his horses actions do all the talking for the stable.

Still, there is a story behind every stable door, and it appears that Lunn is enjoying some well-earned luck since returning to the training ranks following a health scare. 

The Dubbo trainer suffered a stroke last year and spent three months away from the game before making a winning return at Parkes back in August, with Miss Twenty Two winning for connections. 

The popular conditioner has since trained winners at Gilgandra, Narromine (double), Dubbo, and Mudgee, and on Sunday, he prepared another winning double at Orange, with Daredevil (Olivia Chambers, $6.50) winning the 1010m Benchmark 58 Handicap and Elson Bay (Jake Pracey-Holmes, $17) taking out the 1290m Maiden Handicap. 

“It was a good day, and it’s those days that make it worth getting out of bed in the morning,” Lunn laughed. 

“You get enough bad days, so it’s good to have some luck.”

Lunn was in the wars after his stroke, with the veteran trainer battling illness once out of hospital. 

“I had the stroke in May and gave it (training) away for three months. I spent three or four days in intensive care, and I was a bit crook, and then while I was in hospital, I caught Covid, and that knocked me around a bit,” Lunn said. 

Despite being forced to have a break from the sport, Lunn enjoyed some time off with his wife Jill, travelling to Perth to watch NSW defeat Queensland in game two of the 2022 State of Origin Series, while they detoured past Darwin for a few weeks before coming home, and he believes the time off did wonders for his health.

“I came back to training at the end of July or early August, and I’ve been good ever since; I still ride all my own trackwork,” Lunn said. 

“I think I needed the break; my youngest girl is 25, and she was two when we had our last holiday, and the break did me the world of good; I’m back as good as gold.” 

Success at Orange capped off what has been a good return to training for Lunn, and connections of Elson Boy were rewarded for sticking by their trainer, with the owners backing the three-year-old in from $31 to $17 before he won comfortably on Sunday.

“They had a little bit on him, and they don’t mind a bet,” Lunn said. 

“He drew 13, and I told Jake to go forward and rate him and he did that, and he rode him well and it was a good win.”

Daredevil was another good victory for the stable, as he is now owned by Jill after they purchased him recently.

“Steve Allen, who is my mate, previously owned him, and we trained him, but when I gave it away, they gave him a bit of a let-up, and he had a throat operation and ended up racing with Paul Shailer,” Lunn said. 

“He ran third for Paul at Coffs Harbour, and my mate said he was going to sell him, so I bought him, and he came out here in fine fettle, so I gave him a start at Dubbo, and I thought it was a nice run. 

“Then I dropped him back from a (Handicap) 66 to a 58 at Orange, and I put the young girl (Olivia Chambers) on, and it meant he only had to carry 60kg, and she rode him really good, and they won well.”

The Dubbo stable is well and truly back into the swing of things, with Lunn suggesting he has more than enough in work.  

“Too many,” Lunn laughed when asked how many he has currently got in work.  

“There is nine there at the moment, and seven in work, and that keeps me busy enough.”

Lunn will turn his attention to the always-popular Wellington carnival this week, with runners engaged on both Friday and Sunday. 

Sensei Jackie takes on the 1100m Maiden Plate and Gretzky returns from a long spell in the 1000m Benchmark 50 Handicap on Friday, while on Wellington Boot day, the stable has Praline and Classy Rebel entered in the Wellington Town Plate, and last-start winner Daredevil engaged in the 900m Benchmark 66 Handicap. 

“Gretzky hasn’t had a run for 10 months, and Sensei Jackie has had one run in 13 months, and they both need runs but my three on Sunday are all chances,” Lunn said.  

“Classy Rebel and Praline are both capable in the Town Plate, and if Daredevil pulls up well, he will go around in the 900m race as there isn’t a whole lot around for him.” 

It appears there is no slowing Lunn down, and for results from Orange click here and for Wellington’s fields on Friday and Sunday click here