Lunn and Pracey-Holmes set for city assault

On Saturday, Jake Pracey-Holmes will team up with Dar Lunn when riding Elson Boy at Rosehill Gardens. Image – Racing Photography.

When you’re hot, you’re hot, and for in-form trainer Dar Lunn, a trip to town with two live chances arrives at the perfect time as he prepares to travel to Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

The former jockey-turned-trainer has prepared four winners from his past nine starters, with Pants On Fire winning back-to-back races at Dubbo, while Elson Boy has won his past two starts at Dubbo and Orange. 

Lunn will team up with leading country jockey Jake Pracey-Holmes, starting Elson Boy in the $120,000 Class Three Highway Handicap (1400m) and proven sprinter Praline in the $160,000 Benchmark 78 Handicap (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens.

“We’ll go down the morning of, and yeah, it’s pretty exciting,” Lunn told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.

“We’re going there confident; I am not saying they can both win, but they should run good races, and that’s all we ask.”

Praline was placed in a 1200m Class Three Highway Handicap at Royal Randwick earlier in her career, and she has since gone on to win seven races, including four Benchmark 66 wins at Dubbo (x 2), Narromine and Mudgee. 
“She is a nice mare, and like any mare, when she gets into a bit of form, she holds it,” Lunn said.  

“The same owners (Guy Mitchell and Rob Pratten) have both horses, so we thought we’d take both down, and well, Jake has been riding Elson Boy and winning on him, and he’s riding well, and we’d thought we put him on both.”

Elson Boy has been racing very well, winning three of his past four, and Pracey-Holmes will be looking to go forward on the Dubbo galloper from gate six. 

“That little horse is going well. He’s done nothing wrong his last three starts, and he can run a nice race,” Lunn said. 

“From the six, we’ll go forward, and that’s his racing pattern. He seems to go well doing that, and if we didn’t lead, he’ll be up there in the first three.”

Lunn is just looking for his El Roca gelding to put in a competitive run, with the four-year-old being set for the Western Racing Association Country Championships qualifier at Coonamble on Sunday, March 17.

“He is on the same path as another good horse in Pants On Fire,” Lunn said. 

“We thought we’d bring him over for the highway, see how he goes, and have a look for another race for him after that. 

“We’ve got some room to move, but he’s racing well and deserves a chance.”

Pants On Fire is another Country Championships hopeful, with the in-form five-year-old now boasting a good record of 17 starts for four wins and four minor placings. 

The Kuroshio mare, ridden by Chelsea Hillier on both occasions, won Benchmark 50 and 58 Handicaps at Dubbo on either side of the holiday break.

Last time out, Hillier and Pants On Fire handled barrier 12 perfectly before leading all the way over 1400m. 

“She rode her exactly how I asked,” Lunn said. 

“It was a really good win from the extreme outside, and she had to use her up to get to the front.

“Still, she did a great job, and I thought it was a really tough win to hang on like that.

“She will probably go around here at Dubbo again (on February 18) in the Class 4 Country Championships Preview, and if she needs anything after that, we’ll probably just give her a barrier trial.”

For now, Lunn will focus on a rare trip to town.

Despite keeping his trips to Sydney few and far between, the Dubbo trainer has tasted success in the big smoke.

In 2017, Not For Export (Christian Reith) finished third to the Cathleen Rode-trained Free Standing in the Country Championships final. 

Nine-time winner and Country Cup campaigner Playing Game won at Warwick Farm in 2016, and Leaders Road triumphed at a Scone metropolitan meeting in 2015.