YEAR: 2001


Tony H scooted home along the passing lane to down hotpot Jo Anne and win the $20,000 NRM Sires' Stakes 2yo Trotters Championship. Not only did Tony H give Jo Anne her second taste of defeat, he also wiped a second and a half off her older brother Dependable's national record by trotting the 1950m mobile journey in a quick 2:27.1

The whole race had an eerie deja vu feel to it, because just four weeks earlier the blue and white silks of Balle and his training partner Ian Small were seen coming from exactly the same position when Sunease flew home to grab Castleton's Mission in the shadows of the post. He too was considered by most to be 'a certainty' that night.

"You had to respect Jo Anne, but I never considered her to be a past-the-post," driver Mark Jones said afterwards. "Tony H broke early the week before, but he did trot home nicely after that and I always thought we would be a show if we led early and trailed. This horse has got a lovely attitude," he said.

Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 09May01


YEAR: 2001


On paper, Sunease had cost the least and won the least leading into the PGG Yearling Sales Series Trot. But in less than two and a half minutes, he made a mockery of those two statistics and carried away the biggest slice of the $40,000 prize.

Driven by co-trainer Derek Balle, Sunease sat patiently in the trail as All Action Son and hot-favourite Castleton's Mission undid themselves in front. When the time came for Balle and his gelding to get serious rounding the home bend, they picked up their rivals with big strides and won convincingly. Sunease's time of 2:28.1 equalled Godsun's 3-year-old colts and geldings mark set in April last year.

Raced by Balle's parents Ken and Dawn along with Paul Tenwolde and Euan Lawrie, Sunease cost the quartet only $6000 when purchased at the Sales. None of the four were on-course to witness the victory, but they all showed up at the Balle and Ian Small stable in Pukekohe
the next morning, understandably bubbling about the performance. Small accepted that Castleton's Mission was the standout in the race, but he didn't think it was going to be a benefit for him. "All Sunease had to do was trot all the way and I thought he would win, especially the way he had worked the previous Sunday," Small said.

Small and Balle are in their first full season as training partners, and their combination is working well as there have been 15 victories from the stable so far this term. "Sunease was pretty smart right from the start," Small continued. "He was a really big yearling when he was broken in, and was head-strong with it. We took him to Christchurch as a two-year-old but he was experiencing growing pains and didn't trot that good. Turned out and gelded, he is really starting to fill into his big frame now."

Commenting on Sunease's turn of foot, Small believes the gelding has got a lot more high speed than Martina H, who is also 3-year-old trotter that has been in sparkling form for the royal blue and white silks this season. "Martina H is a nice sort that goes out there and does the job properly, but I still think Sunease would be quicker than her. He has always had a good gear - it is just been a case of getting his head around this racing game."

Both trotters will fly the Balle/Small flag in the NZ Trotting Stakes this Saturday night, and then they are off to Melbourne to chase more of the riches on offer in their age group. "From what I hear, Sunease was jumping out of his skin the next morning, so he should go well again this week," Small said.

Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 11Apr01

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