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Natalie has decided against appealing a heavy suspension over her drive behind Chase Auckland at Menangle last week. After Miracle Mile night next week she will be sidelined for two months at a time when a number of feature events such as the Woodlands Northern Derby on March 8 behind Ultimate Sniper plus a host of other features and wins. The case was heard on Saturday. “I had the certain feeling last week I was in for a suspension and probably a longer one. I was sure they had made up their minds about the charge so I was ready for something like this” “Appealing this sort of charge is a headache anyway with all the coming and going and while I will miss those good races I am rather looking forward to a break from the driving to be honest !” To add insult to injury Natalie was fined $400 on Saturday for her whip use on Thefixer. “I was charged with engaging with the shoulder which was a new one to me. I didn’t feel I’d done anything wrong.” The good news was that the Miracle Mile runners all came through their leadup race well. “Those three boys were especially fresh and good this morning around the paddock and I don’t think they have taken any harm at all.” Natalie said. “The draws are going to help. Luke has driven Chase Auckland a bit over here and is an ideal driver for a race like this” Mark and Natalie both paid a heartfelt tribute to travelling foreman Poi Bowden after Saturday’s success. “He is just such a good operator and a good judge. He was really big on Spankem all week and he knew what he was talking about” Mark said “It is just so important to us to have someone who can tell you exactly where the team is at. Its so valuable especially when we cannot be there all the time. He has played a big role in our success” Natalie was thrilled with the performance of Princess Tiffany especially as she was driven with some reserve. “I knew from Wednesday work at Addington she was ready so I was very confident actually. But I was conscious she hadn’t raced for some time and I didn’t want her to have a real gutbuster a week before the Oaks Final. As it happened she got it both ways. I waited until late but she just sprinted past them like the terrific filly she is. I don’t know what she ran her last quarter in but it was 26.5 off the front which is a good guide !” Ashley Locaz and Cruz Bromac will be in the G1 Bonanza next Saturday and All You Need is Faith in a Free for All having missed a Bonanza start. Ashley Locaz was brave again after being parked in Thefixer’s race and has come through it in his usual no nonsense style. If Mark had one reservation on the night it was Dream About Me, who, like Princess Tiffany, only flew over on Friday. “She went well enough and she ate up well overnight. But she was on and off the bit-more off than on-so that was something to work on” In a career of many firsts this was the first occasion when All Stars had won four races on one night at Menangle major meeting , though going close on occasions.   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

ALL STAR STALWARTS Jean Feiss and Phil and Glenys Kennard and their syndicate members came up trumps at the successful New Zealand Bloodstock Standardbred sales which ended Wednesday outlaying over $1m between them for some choice lots whose careers will be guided from Rolleston. Jean, who spent just over $500,000 bought the most expensive All Star lot going to $170,000 for a Bettor’s Delight colt from a daughter of Beaudiene Babe named Beaudiene Big Time. “I was sure in my own mind he would go north of $150,000 but fortunately he was not too far north” she said. She also paid $100,000 for Stag Party a Bettor’s Delight colt bred on the same cross as Lazarus and from a strongly performing family. At Auckland Jean had parted with $140,000 for a Sweet Lou cold closely related to Smooth Deal, last year’s sale topper who is already a winner. “It was a strong sale at the top end and fairly tough competition though I noticed there seemed to be a lot of passings on the board” Jean said of the Christchurch sale. Kennard Bloodstock, unusually, went to $100,000 for a richly bred trotting colt in Auckland as its major purchase but wasted no time swinging into action yesterday. going to $100,000 for a BEttor’s Delight Priscilla Shard colt closely related to familiar All Stars names like Mighty Cullen and Likemesiah and $90,000 for Arden’s Ace, a colt from former brilliant racemare, Venus Serena. Phil said that he had a few disappointments at the Auckland sale. “We found it quite tough at the top end. One colt in particular we had lined up for the Major Mark syndicate but we couldn’t match the firepower. We are not generally going at the top end of the market for our syndicates” All Stars itself added further to its tally yesterday its sale purchases being largely in the $60-70,000 range except for the Captaintreacherous-Veste colt bought in Auckland for $130,000   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

Champion filly Princess Tiffany has been forced into an NSW Oaks tilt by the conditions of the restricted Nevele R fillies heat at Ashburton next week. Not being eligible for that race has affected her preparation for the 2700m of the Pascoe Northern Oaks and with full support from owners Braeden and Caroline Whitelock and Phil and Margaret Creighton Mark and Natalie have opted for the Australian campaign. The heats for the Oaks (2400m) are on February 23 (next Saturday) and the $A200,000 Oaks is on March 2 the day after the Pascoe Oaks. The Sires Stakes Board have made both the Methven and Ashburton heats Restricted to R70 rating and total earnings of $50,000 “to give middle and lower class fillies more opportunities in the series”. That means the only remaining South Island heats for Princess Tiffany and Kayla Marie are at Addington March 15; Forbury Park March 28 and at Addington 20. All Stars have won three of the last four NSW Oaks through Fight for Glory, Dream About Me and Partyon but was not earlier on the horizon for this year’s fillies. Princess Tiffany leaves next week with other All Stars Sydney aspirants to be confirmed but likely to include Elle Mac and Dream About Me.   Courtesy of All Stars Website http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

A sensational mile victory by Bubbled Up in the Nevele R Fillies Series Heat 2 at Methven last weekend highlighted the success of another of the Breckon Farms harness racing syndicates.  Raced by The Perfect Ten Syndicate, Bubbled Up smashed the clock in a race record 1-55.9 on the grass surface at Mt Harding Raceway on Sunday and in doing so went very close to the 1-55 track record set by top pacer A.G's White Socks in the Green Mile in 2017. Driven by Tim Williams the effort of Bubbled Up was even more remarkable when you consider the filly had to do all the work herself, leading from the outset and also after being pressured hard by the two Robert Dunn trained runners during the race. At the finish the American Ideal filly still had half a length to spare from the speedy Greg and Nina Hope trained Kendra who flashed home late, with third going to another Hope trained runner Mossdale Art. Sundays win was special for Tim Williams as it gave him the milestone of his 400th winner from 3338 lifetime drives. The Perfect Ten Syndicate is the fifth such syndicate established by Ken Breckon of Breckon Farms, following in the footsteps of the already highly successful The Good Sports Syndicate, Super Seven Syndicate, The Top Ten Syndicate and Six of the Best Syndicate. Heat 3 of the Nevele R Fillies Series is at Ashburton on 23rd February with the $140,000 final at Addington on the 10th May. Bubbled Up winning at Methven on Sunday Breckon Farms have 26 yearlings entered for sale at this years inaugural National Standardbred Yearling Sale at Karaka, Auckland on the 18th of February 2019. Three of those yearling fillies are by American Ideal the sire of Bubbled Up. Lot 6 - Needamargarita is a filly by American Ideal from Fellamongstabeauty by Bettor's Delight from the Christian Cullen mare Goodlookinggirl. Lot 6 - Needamargarita Lot 6 - Needamargarita Lot 12 - Allamericanlover is a filly by American Ideal from Goodlookinbabe by Mach Three from from the Christian Cullen mare Goodlookinggirl. Lot 12 - Allamericanlover Lot 12 - Allamericanlover Lot 96, Simply Shaz, an American Ideal filly from Simply Stunning. This filly is a first foal from black type race winning Art Major mare. Lot 96, Simply Shaz American Ideal has produced ten millionaires in North America in total. Four have been fillies including his richest progeny American Jewel 1:48.2s ($1,834,823) and also the champion current North American three-year-old filly of the year Yourmycandygirl 1:48.2 ($1,497,000). American Ideal has produced the winners of over $87 million to date in North America. In New Zealand he is the sire of progeny that has earned $7.5 million to date and in Australia he has progeny earnings of over $10 million to date.  Therefore, American Ideal now belongs to the $100 million club an outstanding achievement. He best performing mare in New Zealand is The Orange Agent ($516,974) and in Australia, American Ideal has produced two millionaires to date. They are Bling It On 1:50.8 ($1,656,656) and Soho Tribeca 1:53.8 ($1,103,374)  Harnesslink Media

In racing, your enemy can very quickly become your friend. Which is just as well for Steven Reid and Star Galleria heading into tonight’s $500,000 Del-Re National A G Hunter Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton, because if they have any chance of winning they might need some help from those enemies. Star Galleria is the speed freak New Zealand pacer who looked like he could be anything back in spring until a moderate campaign saw him diagnosed with an entrapped epiglottis. Since that was operated on Star Galleria has rediscovered his turbo booster, even giving Wrappers Delight a fair start and a beating at Melton last Saturday. That suggested he could win tonight’s great race until the barrier draw suggested he couldn’t. Star Galleria has drawn three on the second line, not a killer blow in itself but the real problem is Inter Dominion champion Tiger Tara drew barrier three, from where he should lead and play catch me if you can. They usually can’t. Sitting on Tiger Tara’s back Star Galleria might have the speed to slingshot a vulnerable version. From the second line he will need help. Enter, the enemy. Actually, two of them. They are Thefixer and Cruz Bromac from the Purdon-Rasmussen stable and, quite incredibly, the last eight times Star Galleria has been beaten the race has been won by a Purdon-Rasmussen horse. But, tonight, they might be his only hope, because all three are likely to settle back and move in the middle stages. “I think that is our best chance, rather than trying to punch through at the start on the back of Tiger Tara,” Reid said. “In those big staying races being out of the early rush can often be a good thing, but if Tiger Tara runs straight to the front we could all be in trouble. “So I hope there is some pressure early and then the Kiwis all move together. Maybe then, if we get the right sit, we have a chance, because I couldn’t be happier with my horse.” Thefixer beat Tiger Tara in the New Zealand Cup, but that was when he hugged the marker pegs and the Tiger had to come wide. Tonight the horseshoe is very much on the other hoof. Unless Group 1 fever strikes a couple of the drivers or Tiger Tara performs below his best, the result might be different too.   Michael Guerin

There is life in the old girl yet.  That is co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen’s view as Dream About Me returns to mares company at Addigton tonight even though she faces a far worse draw than younger, and maybe faster, stablemate Elle Mac.  The pair were two of the stars of the recent Auckland Cup meeting but ended on vastly different notes, Dream About Me below her best in the Auckland Cup the same night Elle Mac set a new national record for 1700m after sitting wide the entire race.  Before that Dream About Me had beaten Elle Mac twice fair and square in mares races at The Park and back to their own sex at Addington tonight, Rasmussen slightly favours Dream About Me again. “I think she has been working well and back at home I think she might have a slight advantage over Elle,” says Rasmussen.  “I know Elle has the better draw but Dream About Me can work in her races. But they are both ready to go well.”  Rasmussen is in Victoria where she will partner Thefixer on what could be a mission impossible in the A$500,000 Hunter Cup at Melton tomorrow night.  While he was brilliant in the Ballarat Cup two weeks ago both he and stablemate Cruz Bromac, along with fellow Kiwi pacer Star Galleria, start from the second line while Tiger Tara is drawn to lead from barrier three in the 2760m mobile.“If Tiger Tara leads and races up to his best form this season we might be running for second and third,” suggests Rasmussen.  “We are really happy with our pair but at his best, when he is in front, Tiger is very very hard to beat, as we saw in the Inter Dominion final.”  But all hope is not lost.  “There are a couple of times this season when he (Tiger Tara) hasn’t raced up to that form and that is what we have to hope for on Saturday night — he doesn’t go as good as he can and we get some luck.”  The All Stars also have a strong four-year-old at Menangle in Sydney, where they expect big improvement from last season’s best three-year-old Chase Auckland in an M0 race.  He blew out when fresh up for a long time last Saturday but has worked better since show looks a far better chance tomorrow night while Ashley Locaz looks set to guarantee himself a place in the A$200,000 Chariots Of Fire on February 16 by winning A$50,000 Hondo Grattan.  “He might even be our best chance in the Chariots of Fire because he is flying at the moment.” Michael Guerin

The top priced lot of the Autumn Mixed sale in Auckland in June, Virgil is a likely starter in one of the earliest two year old races of the southern season after being nominated for Addington on Friday. He finished third in his heat at Rangiora last week behind stablemates Flying Even Bettor and Copperfield and is making strong progress for his fearless owner, Jean Feiss. Jean has topped the National sales in the past two years alone with Jesse Duke and Smooth Deal who both won their debut races at two so Virgil has something to live up to. He is also from the first crop of Sweet Lou whose youngsters will be watched with special interest in his first season. Another son, Shelley Beach, fetched $120,000 at the same sale as Virgil and was exported to Australia but has yet to appear. Virgil is from a family Jean Feiss and All Stars know very well. He is from Pacing Delight an unraced daughter of the well performed Pacing Grace. But those mares have left plenty of action on the tracks with their progeny. Pacing Grace’s first foal, Graceful Way has left Three Ways, Forgotten Highway, Shanway Make Way and Man of Action. She has just landed her first filly foal this season, The next filly to be bred from, Pacing Delight, is the dam of Virgil. A colt foal, Pacing Major was a big winner for All Stars especially as a two year old and was later sold to the United States. The family’s ability to leave early speed has given it a huge boost as emphasis on age group racing has grown. After Pacing Major came a sales topper in All U Need is Faith who has been an impressive performer for Dennis Dunford and a more recent filly foal, Sweet Affinity,is another member of the All Stars team, Meanwhile Pacing Grace had left Linda Grace the dam of Smooth Deal the $230,000 sale topper for Jean who has already won a Young Guns heat. Linda Grace had earlier left Linda Lovegrace a 1.54.8 mr winner in Australia and placed in 1.51.4 in a Harness Jewels at Ashburton for All Stars who won nearly $270,000 including the Group One Caduceus Club Filly Classic.   Courtesy of All Stars Website http://www.allstarsracingstables.com   Race 4 [6:54pm] SBSR DIAMOND CREEK CLASSIC GROUP 2 - 27 APRIL MOBILE PACE  $10,000, 2YO, 1980m    Racebook    TabForm    Gear    Preferential Grid   For 2-year-old pacers. Preferential Barrier Draw Based on: Sex (fillies drawn inside colts and geldings) then Winning Stakes using the track grid. Book Form Age Sex     Name   Rating Draw Hdcp Driver Trainer 1   2 g     The Warrior   MR50 1 Front Ken Barron K M Barron 2   2 c     Laver   MR50 2 Front Gerard O'Reilly G R Dunn 3   2 g     Copperfield   MR50 3 Front Tim Williams M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen 4   2 c     Mongolian Marshal   MR50 4 Front Ricky May P T Court 5   2 c     Noosa Beach   MR50 5 Front Blair Orange K M Barron 6   2 g     Flying Even Bettor   MR50 6 Front Matthew Williamson M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen 7   2 g     Virgil   MR50 7 Front Olivia Thornley(J) M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen

The "bridesmaids" are set to get their chance in Cambridge's race of the season. Because both Jack's Legend and Star Galleria have drawn to try and upset the All Stars apple cart in the $60,000 Waikato Flying Mile on Friday night. The sprint race is the centrepiece of the club's centenary celebrations and has drawn a field worthy of the occasion, with the first ever clash between New Zealand Cup winner Thefixer and last week's Auckland Cup champ Turn It Up. The latter will start a hot favourite after drawing the ace in the mobile mile while Thefixer faces a huge task in his first start for two months after drawing the outside of the eight-horse field. But while Turn It Up will dominate betting, the draws of Jack's Legend (barrier three) and Star Galleria (four) at least suggest some early fireworks. Both have proven Cup bridesmaids to All Stars runners before - Jack's Legend finishing second to Lazarus in last season's New Zealand Cup while Star Galleria was second to Turn It Up last week. But what Jack's Legend and Star Galleria both have is real gate speed and they have also used it before to upset highly favoured Purdon-Rasmussen favourites. Jack's Legend began brilliantly to lead and down Ultimate Machete in the Jewels as a 3-year-old while Star Galleria led and won this race last season defeating Heaven Rocks. And their trainers agree their only chance of beating Turn It Up this Friday is crossing him at the start. "Usually those good horses have good gate speed but we have to have a crack to find out," says Star Galleria's trainer Steven Reid of Turn It Up. "My horse is flying and came through the Auckland Cup great so he will be heading forward and with Jack's Legend in there too at least Turn It Up will have some pressure early." Reid also has Utmost Delight in the race and his pair will then head to Australia to be campaigned in both Victoria and New South Wales. "I want to qualify Utmost Delight for the Ladyship Mile in Sydney so she will contest the Ladyship Cup at Melton on January 26," explains Reid. "Star Galleria will race is a sprint race [Casey Classic] that night and then the Hunter Cup on February 2 and then they both head up to the Miracle Mile meeting at Menangle." Rival trainer Barry Purdon is also hoping Jack's Legend can at least test Turn It Up early and set himself up for an Australian campaign. "He has really good gate speed whereas we haven't seen Mark's horse [Turn It Up] from the mobile all that much so we have to have a look at the start and see how we go." Purdon is eyeing Australia with three of his horses, with Jack's Legend still a chance to chase a Miracle Mile spot in Sydney next month. If he heads there that might increase the chances of exciting filly Belle Of Montana making the trip to Sydney after owner Queensland-based owner Dean Shannon left the decisions between the Northern Oaks at Alexandra Park and the NSW Oaks the same weekend to Purdon. "He said it is up to me so she will race here on February 8 and then we can firm up which Oaks to aim at." Purdon will send 3-year-old pacer Supreme Dominator to the Victoria Derby heats next week, where he will join Another Masterpiece as New Zealand representatives. Michael Guerin

Cambridge’s centenary meeting is set to host a rare clash of New Zealand’s biggest Cups winners. Because both New Zealand Cup hero Thefixer and this week’s Auckland Cup winner Turn It Up are being aimed at next Friday’s $60,000 Flying Mile. The super sprint is the centrepiece of Cambridge’s celebration of 100 years of racing and while the Flying Mile often attracts an elite level star like Lazarus, it rarely sees the two major Cup winners clash. And they are likely to be joined by defending Mile champion Star Galleria as well as last season’s New Zealand Cup runner-up Jacks Legend, making it one of the strongest Flying Miles in years. The Purdon-Rasmussen camp confirmed both Thefixer, who hasn’t raced since winning the New Zealand Cup, and Turn It Up will clash in the Mile after their trainers sat down to plan out where most of their superstars are heading for the summer. Thefixer missed the Auckland Cup after being given an easy time after the New Zealand Cup but looked very fit working between races on Monday. So his clash with Turn It Up could, depending on draws and runs, indicate just who the best pacer in New Zealand is at the moment. The All Stars also likely to have Ashley Locaz and All U Need Is Faith in the race so Cambridge officials will be beaming that their centenary night will attract a field appropriate for the occasion. Thefixer will be using the Mile as a lead up to the Ballarat Cup on January 19 before the Hunter Cup two weeks later. He will be joined at Ballarat by stablemates Cruz Bromac and Spankem, who are already in Australia after competing in the Inter Dominions. Cruz Bromac will also head to the Hunter Cup on February 2 but Spankem will be aimed at the Bonanza at Melton on January 26 to attempt to qualify for the Chariots of Fire in Sydney a month later. The All Stars have decided Another Masterpiece will be their Victoria Derby contender while unbeaten three-year-old Ultimate Sniper will be saved for the NSW Derby on March 2. He will be joined in Sydney by Chase Auckland, who is being aimed at the Chariots Of Fire while Elle Mac will be the stable rep in the Ladyship Mile, with Dream About Me returning to Christchurch after a rare below par effort in the Auckland Cup. Trainer Steven Reid has indicated he will look to take both his Auckland Cup contenders Star Galleria and Utmost Delight to Australia. While next Friday’s meeting shapes as Cambridge’s best of the season, this Friday's twilight offering is far more sedate, with small-time trainer Cheree Wigg maybe the punter’s best friend as she has winning chances with Wait For Success (race two) and Crackared (race three), both legs of the Pick6. Michael Guerin

There have been some highs and some lows for two of the glamour girls of the All Stars pacing team this week. While last season’s champion filly Princess Tiffany has been sidelined and will miss one of her richest targets of the season, stablemate Dream About Me’s chances of winning Monday’s Auckland Trotting Cup may been boosted by a near perfect draw. Princess Tiffany will miss the $150,000 Sires’ Stakes Championship at Alexandra Park’s huge twilight meeting on Monday as she struggles with what is believed to be a problem in her hocks, although co-trainer Mark Purdon expects she will be back for some of the bigger three-year-old fillies races later in the season. Still after suffering the first two defeats of her career this month and then missing Monday’s race, her classic season has hardly started how her connections would have wanted. Dream About Me has been in outstanding form and will now be locked in a battle for Auckland Cup favouritism after drawing the middle of the front line for the great race. Dream About Me is looking to add Monday’s Cup to the one she won two seasons ago and with her usually reliable standing start manners she has a slight advantage over stablemate and favouritism rival Turn It Up, who has drawn directly outside her. Turn It Up is a veteran of only eight starts and would rank as one of the most amazing winning stories in the proud history of the Cup if he can trump Dream About Me in the $250,000 race, which goes at 8.08pm local time on a programme that starts at 3.15pm. Another of the day’s hotpots in Ultimate Machete has drawn the potentially awkward ace draw in his $200,000 Sales Series Pace and while he may not have the natural gate speed to hold the lead with a fast beginner drawn directly outside him, the small second line should aid him and he will be many punters multi anchor for the day. Marcoola will be odds-on on the $100,000 National Trot even after drawing wide on the front line, especially after several of his key rivals galloped at different stages of the Flying Mile at Cambridge on Christmas Eve. Last season’s National Trot winner Temporale returned to winning form in the Cambridge sprint and with the draws now emerges as the threat to Marcoola, if there is such a thing in open class trotting at the moment. Michael Guerin  

You don’t often see Tim Williams completely lost for words but after Cheerful’s ignominious display when she resumed at Addington last week was a time when it was pretty close. Cheerful is known for having ability but one thing she has never done according to Tim is to gallop. In a race or at home. But last week as an odds on favourite she did just that and more than once. It was “all over red rover” in no time so punters are entitled to be a little wary at Addington tomorrow when she sets out to put the record straight. “She never breaks” was Tim’s stunned reaction last week and he still feels the same way about her reliability. “I had a talk to Mark about it. He thought she might just have been a touch fresh and to just put it behind us rather than take any drastic measures. You often find too that a horse so well gaited like that often gets a bigger shock than you do when it goes wrong on raceday and finds it that much harder to recover” So nothing has been changed for this week. And nobody is thinking that it might happen again even though punters may have their suspicions. Cheerful, who is raced by Braeden and Caroline Whitelock who are expecting news on the progress of Princess Tiffany which they co-own, certainly wouldn’t mind a lift in the luck department, especially after Kayla Marie also met trouble last week. She is also out to atone on Friday. Encouraging in a way is that One Over Da Stars who is the likely favourite is far more unpredictable than Cheerful and has been disqualified in its last two after outstanding performances. There are some other useful trotters in the field but Cheerful doing things right should put a smile on your face. The other southern stable runner on show this weekend is FUNATTHEBEACH in the Ashburton Cup on Sunday, Whatever you judge his chances on don’t make it his last race at Addington. The stable was quietly confident of a big run based on his work but the result looks dismal as he finished last. Looks can be deceiving. Tim makes a strong case for the defense. “The thing was they ran home in 55. Going into that half he was a few lengths off them and then he had to improve wide to try and get into the race in the straight. Then they closed in 26 for the 400m so it was no surprise that he felt the pinch in the last 100. His work had been very good leading into that race it just didn’t work out for him” However Tim did have one reservation about Sunday’s race. The weather. “He is down to have a good hitout tomorrow (Friday) but it is looking doubtful at the moment. The track at home is slushy with the rain and the challenge will be getting on it for fast work” As it was the stable had to hopple Thefixer at home midweek because the surface was not much better at Rangiora for the trials from which he was withdrawn. Courtesy of All Stars Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

The All Stars stable of Natalie Rasmussen and Mark Purdon knows no boundaries. Their pursuit of excellence continues to defy belief, constantly rewriting the pages of history, producing brilliant talent season after season and across all age groups. The Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final is a time honoured feature that tugs at the heartstrings of both Rasmussen and Purdon. After all, Rasmussen and her mighty champion Blacks A Fake won the event a record four times while Purdon has lifted the trophy on six occasions – 3 pacers and 3 trotters. This will be Rasmussen’s 7th Inter Dominion Grand Final, her previous six coming with Blacks A Fake – 4 wins and 2 seconds. In fact, the last time the Pacing Grand Final was staged in Melbourne (2008 - Moonee Valley), it was Rasmussen and ‘Blackie’ that proved victorious. And now they’re chasing another slice of history this weekend. The All Stars have qualified two runners for the Gr.1 $500,000 TAB Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final, the top two point scorers following the three rounds of heats over the past week. Cruz Bromac and Spankem are the two combatants, both striving to provide the stable their third straight Inter Dominion hero. Yet all with different horses after Smolda scored in 2016 while Lazarus took honours last year. And here’s the magic, no stable has won the Inter Dominion three times and with a different champion each time. The famous stables of Bob and Vin Knight fell short back in 1990 after both Our Maestro and Jane Ellen scored in the previous. It was Thorate who scored at Globe Derby while the Knight trained Jane Ellen and Rockleigh Victory were both unplaced and therefore denied the Victorian stable a three peat. Obviously Rockleigh Victory would’ve created history if successful - three different winners in three consecutive years. But now the All Stars can claim this record if either Cruz Bromac or Spankem deliver. And both have undeniable chances, Spankem will start from gate five with Purdon driving after Rasmussen elected to stick solid with Cruz Bromac despite drawing gate nine. Purdon is taking his 9th Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final drive; he has won three finals previously with Mark Hanover, Smolda and Lazarus while he has won 3 Trotting Finals with Pride Of Petite and I Can Doosit (twice). Cruz Bromac is the only runner during the series to win all three qualifying heats. With the series undertaking several changes throughout recent years, the last pacer to clean sweep a series (3 heats & Final) was the champion performer Im Themightyquinn back in 2012 at Gloucester Park in Perth while Elsu also achieved the feat in 2005 at Alexandra Park, Auckland. So, can Cruz Bromac and Rasmussen achieve the sweep? Will it be his stablemate, rising star Spankem? The professional four-year-old has thrived during the series winning two of his three heats and looks like he’ll relish the 2760m distance. Another New Zealand four-year-old I’m Pats Delight is also relishing the hard grind of the series and looms as a serious player for a formidable combination in Cran Dalgety and Gavin Lang. Between them, they have won more features than they care to remember. However, the Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final trophy has proven elusive for both future Hall of Famers but can they etch their names into the record books this weekend? This will be Lang’s 10th Inter Dominion Grand Final drive and second for Dalgety after partnering London Legend back in 2006. I’m Pats Delight will start from gate three. Perth powerhouse Greg and Skye Bond are represented by the ideally drawn Galactic Star (gate one) and the Bettors Delight gelding has been outstanding throughout the series to date with top three finishes in each of his three heats. Last year, Galactic Star finished 5th behind Lazarus. In 2012, the Bond’s also finished 5th with Can Return Fire behind Im Themightyquinn. Ryan Warwick takes his third Inter Dominion Grand Final drive when he reunites with Galactic Star. Interestingly, the only proven Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit winner in the field this year is the tough Sydney trained millionaire Tiger Tara. And his maiden Grand Circuit victory came recently when successful in the Victoria Cup here at TABCORP Park, Melton when leading throughout. Placed third last year behind Lazarus and Chicago Bull, the Kevin Pizzuto trained and Todd McCarthy driven will need to overcome gate seven, the outside of the front-line. McCarthy is taking his 4th Inter Dominion Grand Final drive. The Bettors Delight entire was placed in all three heats including his victory last weekend at Cranbourne. Local star San Carlo lines up again following his impressive efforts last year in Perth where he won a heat but in the final, he finished 9th behind Lazarus after drawing poorly. Although winless during the heats and starting from gate eight, the inside of the second-line, San Carlo still rates as a winning hope. Prepared by Steve O’Donoghue and handled by Bec Bartley, the Mach Three gelding will carry plenty of local support. Another local which will have plenty cheering is the David Aiken trained and Kima Frenning driven up and comer Wrappers Delight. A winner in the sprint heat at Ballarat on night two, the Bettors Delight gelding needs to overcome gate 11. This opportunity provides Frenning with her first Inter Dominion Grand Final drive. One of the surprise packets of the series is the Mattie Craven trained and driven Can’t Refuse, responsible for some eye-catching efforts throughout the heats. The Bettors Delight gelding will start from gate two. Like Frenning, this is Craven’s first Inter Dominion Grand Final drive. Another pacer that has thrived throughout the series is the Bathurst prepared Our Uncle Sam for father/son combination of Chris and Anthony Frisby. Blessed with sharp speed and great determination, the Sportswriter gelding is looking at bringing another Inter Dominion trophy back to the famous region. Memories of Honda Grattan and Smooth Satin come flooding back when assessing the chances of Our Uncle Sam. The five-year-old will start from gate 10 and this is Anthony’s first Inter Dominion Grand Final drive. There’s no doubt rejuvenated pacer Maximan will have the biggest cheer squad, the one-time claimer has thrived under the care of Shane and Lauren Tritton. It will be their 3rd Inter Dominion finalist. Boasting owners from all parts of the country, the veteran performer will start from gate six. And Craig Cross is represented by two runners, just like the All Stars, speedy pacer Mach Doro starts from gate four while Cash N Flow is looking to overcome gate 13, the outside of the second-line. Luke McCarthy partners Mach Doro while John Caldow takes the drive behind Cash N Flow, McCarthy is lining up for his 7th Inter Dominion Grand Final drive while Caldow is taking his maiden drive in a Pacing Grand Final. McCarthy has finished third four times previously but is still chasing his maiden victory. Interestingly, Cash N Flow is a former member of the All Stars operation before joining Cross earlier this year. Owner Dominic Martello races both Wrappers Delight and Mach Doro. Audi Hare (gate 12) is listed as the emergency runner. Chris Barsby

As if there was not enough excitement in the camp more is coming as Chase Auckland readies for a brief northern campaign and then an assault on the Chariots of Fire when he is likely to clash with Spankem all going well. Chase Auckland was the pre-eminent three year old last season before going amiss in the latter part and he has had a patient buildup through the spring toward an Australian campaign. “He is ready to go to the trials now and after that he would head north” Natalie said “He’s doing great. We would probably give him a race at Cambridge even though it is not a qualifying race for the Chariots now and then he would head over for those leadup races for that. “Spankem will stay over here for the Bonanza ($A100,000 January 26) and then go on to Chariots trail. Chase Auckland and will probably go straight to Sydney. Chase Auckland won eight of his nine starts at three and ran second to stablemate Sicario in the other earning nearly $400,000 for his Alabar Farms Syndicate who are naturally his greatest fans. He had a minor hiccup in the spring which crossed out the NZ Cup meeting and the Auckland Cup. That could be a blessing in disguise as he faces a busy summer and autumn all going well. He is likely to trial next Tuesday at Rangiora. Ultimate Machete trialled on Wednesday and won well. A decision has yet to be made on whether he will trial again before heading north. Courtesy of All Stars Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

Matt Bowden is more than happy with how things are going with Inter Dominion hopefuls Spankem and Cruz Bromac as they shape up for the first heats on Saturday. The team arrived in Sydney last Friday and travelled by road to Melbourne on Saturday. “No complaints . Possibly Spankem has done a little better but not enough for anyone to be concerned about. Cruz is going good too” Poi said “Natalie arrives over by Thursday and I will be heading off to Auckland then to look after the team there. They will be based at Barry’s this year” “Natalie will be staying there for the campaign. We are based just out of Melbourne where Blacks a Fake used to stay when he went to Melbourne and it is nice and quiet here” “Spankem has never turned a hair and is a great little traveller. I will be surprised if he doesn’t win a heat of the series at least. Cruz is a hot favourite in his heat and will also be ready for a big run. I am happy with them both” Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

The Owners representative took a quick visit to All Stars Stable on Wednesday to see how Chase Auckland was progressing towards his return to harness racing and the news is very positive.  “We are looking at taking him to a trial in 3 or 4 weeks and then aim at a possible race at Cambridge followed by a suitable race in Auckland perhaps on Christmas Eve,” Mark Purdon said. He says "I do not think he would be ready for such a tough and demanding race like the Auckland Cup at this stage instead Id rather race him as much as possible against his own age group". This could involve such races as the $50,000 Futurity Stakes at Cambridge on January 24, and in Australia, the $50,000 Hondo Grattan Stakes on February 2, the $50,000 Paleface Adios Sprint on February 9 with the main one being the $200,000 Chariots of Fire on February 16 – all at Tabcorp Park in NSW. It would then be back to New Zealand for such possible races as the $50,000 Superstars Champs at Addington on March 29, the $100,000 Taylor Mile on April 26, the $100,000 NZ Messenger (both at Auckland) and $150,000 Harness Jewels at Addington. At the time of taking his New Zealand record in The 3YR Sires Stakes Final in 2017, Chase Auckland recorded the fastest ever time for not only three-year-olds but for all-comers rating a 1:52.2 mile rate over the 1950 metres. He also holds a second record at Auckland over 2700 metres in The Great Northern Derby rating 3:16.8 for the distance. This son of Auckland Reactor has had just the nine starts for eight wins and a second to date with $392,329 in the bank. His return to racing will be eagerly watched and waited for by his large numbers of Owners and Fans across the Country. The photos taken and shown here are spectacular to say the least. Chase Auckland - Group 1 New Zealand Sires Stakes Final 2017 Chase Auckland - Woodlands Great Northern Derby 2018 Harnesslink Media

As far as elite drivers go, the name of Natalie Rasmussen is clearly in the conversation. The trailblazing girl from Queensland can drive.....and she can drive fast. But it’s the soft hands and gentle approach that puts her in rare air. Her collection of big race trophies includes Inter Dominions, Miracle Mile, Queensland Pacing Championships and Auckland, Victoria and Hunter Cups. Rasmussen has led the way for female drivers by becoming the first to win the Inter Dominion, Queensland Pacing Championship plus the Auckland, Victoria and Winter Cups. All of the above mentioned are Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit events, the best of the best. And the latest trophy to the mantelpiece, the Gr.1 $800,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup, another Grand Circuit feature. Rasmussen produced another polished display to land the 3200m stand start feature, getting race favourite Thefixer away safely before taking the early lead from Star Galleria and then handing over to stablemate Dream About Me. It was typical of her normal poise and guile in big pressure events. The victory puts her alongside fellow Australian Kerryn Manning as the only female winners of the famed feature. Rasmussen also co-trains the winner in partnership with Mark Purdon. After a long delay following a botched attempt the first time around with the starting strand becoming entangled with Eamon Maguire, runners were called back and forced to stand to attention again. But the delay had no effect on Rasmussen or Thefixer with a safe beginning made and landing in a dangerous position while key rivals navigated some early traffic and jostled for positions. Sitting patiently in the trail, Thefixer followed Dream About Me and saved much needed energy, the lead time was covered in 1:57.8. Sole Aussie raider Tiger Tara soon made his move and circled three-wide before parking outside Dream About Me, he maintained strong pressure onwards. Approaching the home turn, Dream About Me and Tiger Tara sprinted as strong as they could and actually had Thefixer losing their backs but Rasmussen went to work and the nuggety little stayer knuckled down and picked up via the passing lane to defeat a gallant Tiger Tara with Dream About Me filling third place. The winning margin was a head with a half-length back to third. The winning time was 3:53.9 - the mile rate was 1:57.6. “I can retire happily now that I’ve finally won this race,” Rasmussen declared. “That was so so close but we got there, he’s been a project horse of mine for some time and he’s such a great little stayer, we got a great run but I was worried when the sprint went on but he fought all the way to the finish and he was brave. It wasn’t an ideal campaign with the hoof abscess but things worked out well.” It was her 7th drive in the New Zealand Cup. Her victories on New Zealand soil now tally 237 from 612 drives while amassing more than $7.9 million. The All Stars stable has now won 4 of the past 5 editions. And the efforts of super sire Bettors Delight can’t go unnoticed, his 5th straight winner of the Cup plus a trifecta! Thefixer is by Bettors Delight from the Christian Cullen mare Tosti Girl and came at a cost of $47,000 at the 2015 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka. The next leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit is the Inter Dominion in Melbourne on December 15.   Chris Barsby

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