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Stewards have today spoken with co-trainer Mark Purdon regarding New Zealand cup nominee Thefixer. Mr Purdon explained that following on from what he considered to be a slightly disappointing run in the Avon City Ford Cup the gelding was found to have some heat emanating from a front foot. The horse was diagnosed with an abscess and was not able to be track worked. Because of this Thefixer was transferred to a training facility that accommodated a water walker where the horse was able to be exercised without causing any further damage to the injury. Mr Purdon drove the gelding in track work this morning was pleased with the horses recovery and the response the horse has had to treatment. He said the horse was fully sound and would be looking to trial the horse next week. He further advised that pending the anticipated improvement between now and the 2nd of November the horse would likely resume at NZMTC on that date. Thefixer remains stood down pending a Veterinary clearance. HRNZ

Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen's success with ex-Australian pacers continued yesterday at Mt Harding racecourse when Cruz Bromac powered over the top of his rivals to win the Methven Cup by more than two lengths. The Falcon Seelster gelding was having his first start on the grass surface, a fact that did not worry his driver Natalie Rasmussen who commented on the All Stars website that the grass didn’t worry them because he is a good gaited horse. "He did scramble a bit early but that was probably getting used to the surface. "It was good to see him bouncing straight up with some form here. "We think he will probably go to the Kaikoura Cup. We have a huge week coming up and we expect to have 16 horses at Ashburton as well as some at Addington Friday and four at the trials on Wednesday," she said. Although the track was on the dead side the time for Cruze Bromac of 3-51.3 for the 3000m stand lowered the old track record held by Messini by nearly half a second, proving Cruz Bromac has what it takes to be a major force in the up-coming New Zealand Cup in November. The favourite for the race Star Galleria led for most of the way but weakened to only run third,while Forgotten Highway continued his good form and enhanced his Cup chances by running home well into second for driver Samantha Ottley.   Harnesslink Media

Natalie Rasmussen, the leading female driver in stakes won for the last five years is now free to drive at trials and on raceday. In a statement on the All Stars Website, Mark Purdon has said the RIU has reversed the decision on Natalie. "We were just getting on the plane home from Auckland when we got the news the RIU has reversed its decision and Natalie is free to drive at trials and raceday. "We were surprised it took this long but at least is happened and we can get on with it," he said. Rasmussen who has had an amazingly high UDR for the last several years is unbeaten with her drives so far this season, winning with her only two drives,both on Thefixer when he won his first two starts back this season. Rasmussen will drive the All Stars trained Eamon Maguire in the $50,000 Inkwise Canterbury Classic at Addington on Friday night after Thefixer was pulled out of the race with a minor foot problem.   Harnesslink Media and Courtesy of All Stars Website

The long wait for New Zealand's best trotter is almost at an end. But punters should be wary of backing comeback champ Monbet to win the $300,000 Dominion even though he will make his first public appearance in 22 months next week. The one-time Horse of The Year will finally make it back to the trials next Wednesday after having not raced, or even been to the workouts, since winning the Dominion at Addington in 2016. Monbet has struggled with leg problems since and had stem cell surgery which has resulted in a so far, so good prognosis. "He had his latest scan last Saturday and the vets said he was good to go to the next stage," said Ben Hope, whose parents Greg and Nina train Monbet. Monbet may head to the Flying Mile at Ashburton, a race he won fresh up two years ago, on October 22 before the Cup carnival. But while he is the $3.90 for the Dominion on November 16, Hope says Monbet is no certainty to start in New Zealand's richest trot even if he remains sound. "It could be a case where he goes to the Mile at Ashburton and the Free-For-All on Cup day but the Dominion is unsure at this stage," explains Hope. Even more unlikely is the Inter Dominion in Victoria. "That isn't something he is being aimed for at this stage and he is more likely, all going well, to head to Auckland with Enghien to campaign up there." Enghien will miss the Cup carnival as he has only started fast work and is being given plenty of time to find his feet as a five-year-old. The Hope stable, of which junior driver Ben is basically a third partner in the family training business, have been pleased with the two outings this season of New Zealand Cup contender AG's White Socks. He was caught late by Dream About Me after leading in the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru last Sunday and while they believe he is probably a better horse following, they wanted to stay in front last Sunday to earn some respect. The road to the New Zealand Cup gets busier over the next week, with favourite Ultimate Machete having his third trial this campaign at Rangiora yesterday while Harness Jewels winners Eamon Maguire returned for his first. Both pleased trainer Mark Purdon enough although Ultimate Machete did miss getting away properly, not as badly as he did in his first trial two weeks ago, but enough to make punters nervous as he is the favourite for the Cup. Star Galleria headlines the next Cup lead-up race at Alexandra Park tomorrow night.   Michael Guerin

Harness Racing Australia (HRA) today announced the winners of their 2018 Horse of the Year Awards, with Lazarus taking out Harness Horse of the Year honours. It was a stunning year for Lazarus in Australia earning a million dollars and winning the Inter Dominion and Hunter Cup double for trainer-driver Mark Purdon. In addition to the Harness Horse of the Year award, the New Zealand bred horse also took out the Australian Pacer of the Year and Aged Pacing Horse of Gelding of the Year awards. In another stellar season for Mark Purdon, his star two year old pacing filly, Our Princess Tiffany won the Australian Two Year Old Pacing Filly trophy after her three-for-three season in Australia culminating in a terrific Breeders Crown win. Premier Victorian trainer Emma Stewart dominated the juvenile pacing boys divisions, with colts Centenario and Poster Boy taking out the Two Year Old and Three Year Old Colts and Gelding Awards respectively. Great Southern Star champ Sparkling Success was the big trotting winner for John and Mary Meade as he won 2018 Australian Trotter of the Year and Aged Trotting Horse or Gelding of the Year, which is sure to be a thrill for the Meade’s after the horse’s untimely injury this month.  Star Yabby Dam Farms trotter, Always Ready was the most clear cut winner this year. In a season in which he was not once out of the placings from eight starts for trainer Anton Golino, Always Ready was the overwhelming victor in the Two Year Old Trotting Colts and Geldings division. The performance criteria for the HRA Awards is for performances by Australian trained horses, as well as for Australian performances of New Zealand trained horses. The full list of Australian Horse of the Year winners and their performances across all categories is attached: Lawn Derby Awards - Pacers Vancleve Awards - Trotters For more information, please contact Harness Racing Australia on 03 9227 3000.   Harness Racing Australia

Top harness racing trainer Mark Purdon is pleased with the way the New Zealand Cup favourite Ultimate Machete is progressing after a win at yesterdays Mid - Canterbury trials. After he galloped away badly at his first trial appearance at Rangiora last week Ulimate Machete was much more behaved yesterday and he stepped well and led for the last 800m to win narrowly but under a hold from stablemate Spankem. Purdon was happy with the trial and said on the All Stars Website, "He did everything right. "He stepped well and I just moved up in the middle stages and went to the line with Spankem who is also going well. "I think they all finished in the first two or three and I was pleased with all the results.   The time for the 2400m trial was an unhurried 3-08.7 with a steady last 800m in 58.7 and closing 400m in 28.1. Ultimate Machete (Bettor's Delight - Reality Check) is set to resume in the $50,000 Inkwise Canterbury Classic on October 5th with the winner of that race guaranteed a start in the New Zealand Cup on Tuesday 13th November. Another All Stars New Zealand Cup nominee Dream About Me will contest the time honoured (Gr3) Hannon Memorial at Oamaru this weekend. The Bettor's Delight mare is the highest rated horse in the race and will start a short priced favourite after two good minor placings at Addington in her previous two starts.   Harnesslink media

We all know harness racing has been hard hit by the news coming out in the last week or so and I wouldn’t want to go into the ins and outs of all the evidence that has emerged so far. That is for others to decide However I feel I must comment on some aspects of how the case has been handled. I think I can say that in that  I have been a victim of some aspects of the media coverage  which I think has been overly sensational and judgmental before any of the evidence had been properly evaluated. I can’t help noticing that harness racing seems to judged by different standards compared to other sports and businesses in these circumstances. Innocent until proven guilty is the law but you couldn’t say that was the attitude of  some commentators and authorities in connection with this case. Our industry deserves better . From the  personal viewpoint there were photos of me in the media as soon as the story broke and the property on television news when nobody at All Stars was ever involved in a race fixing inquiry. Names were being published before any court appearances had been made In my experience other  industries are not treated like that. It seems they have no respect for harness racing. In my view the media has quite a lot to answer for over these events. They seem to have a double standard when it comes to racing. I looked at the people involved in court last week on the various charges and thought how well presented all of them were and how most are high achievers who have made something of their lives. They may prove to have done something wrong but they seemed out of place in a courtroom. I have been in harness racing a long time and  consider it clean. As in all businesses things happen from time to time. However what some might be sure they see from the stands is not always what is really happening in the race. I believe harness racing deserves more respect for its overall record. That is why I am also disappointed at the lack of support to date from the code leaders for some of the most successful  people in harness racing who have not yet been found guilty of anything. This treatment does not seem to happen in the thoroughbred code. I can understand people questioning aspects of our industry and have no problems with those questions being properly answered. But to see people treated so shabbily before anything has been through the courts of law is extremely disappointing.   Mark Purdon Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables website

When the Kennards wrote their name down for Thefixer as a yearling they weren't going just by what was in front of them. They had already had race and sales success with Sir Tosti Mach, his half brother by Mach Three. Sir Tosti Mach ran second to Alta Christiano  in a Sales Graduate race and ran 4th in a very strong final that year. He later was a durable racehorse in Australia. So a version by Bettor's Delight was certainly no option from hell Seven wins from 12 starts later-plus a lot of patience as Mark and Natalie told them "Tosti" was a good horse in the making but needing time-showed that the trainers knew what they were talking about. Surprise, surprise. But what might be termed a surprise is not that Thefixer is good but that he is male. This is a family that has left useful colts and geldings and the odd case even better than that. But it is a filly family by any measure. Thefixer's dam Tosti Girl was a high bar perfomer earning nearly $200,000 in age group events. And her dam, Delightful Paula by the brilliant track performer but disappointing stallion, Jaguar Spur-once so fashionable he  had a yearing passed in at $100,000 at Christchurch when the average was less than $20,000-connected spectacularly with Christian Cullen to produce another outstanding filly, Delightful Christian, who won over $200,000 and ran 1.52. Her record would have been even better had she not returned a controversial positive to arsenic after winning a Harness Jewels 2yo Filly and being disqualified-a penalty legal action could not shake. Not only that but the next dam, Aristocratic, left another high class filly Paula Michelle who won the filly version of the Sires Stakes both at two and three. Colts anyone ? Why? At that stage this branch of the family, nurtured for many years by the Harrison family of Methven, had moved north after Central Standardbreds bought Patrician from Tom Harrison. Brian Hughes and John Green had considerable success breeding most of the above stars from her descendants.  We need hardly add that Patrician's dam, Undaunted, bred on the Light Brigade-U Scott cross more fashionable then than even the Bettor's Delight-Christian Cullen one today, left a very smart mare in the days before so many rich filly races in Ulight who won seven and granddam also of Local View. She did also leave a smart male pacer in Onassis.   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com

Driver Tim Williams is certain Dream About Me will strip a fitter pacer at Addington tonight than she did a week ago — he just isn't sure whether stablemate Thefixer will be just as improved. And the answer to that question could decide the first group race of the harness season, the $30,000 Maurice Holmes Vase. Williams will partner Dream About Me, who hasn't won a race since the 2016 Auckland Cup but has rarely gone a bad one since either. Last season she was dogged by bad luck and chasing Lazarus and the now six-year-old mare produced the run of the race in the first open class contest of the season at Addington last Thursday. Tipped by champion trainer Mark Purdon to be in need of a run, Dream About Me looked just that as she sat parked for the last 800m and was only caught late by Thefixer. So if Dream About Me is fitter, which Williams is sure she is, then back to free-for-all conditions tonight she should win, right? "That would seem to make sense and she will definitely be better but the thing is we don't know how much fitter Thefixer will be too," admits Williams. "They both hadn't raced for a long time heading into last week and I think reverse the runs and reverse the result. "But we don't really know how good Thefixer is. A couple of years ago he came off Vincent's back and beat him in the New Zealand Cup that day so maybe he is a really good horse. So either of them could win without surprising me because these small field can provide very tactical racing." If Dream About Me can lead the race looks hers to lose because last season when she led it took Lazarus to beat her in the Flying Stakes at Ashburton. One thing looks certain, an All Stars victory. As good as the opposition are, it is hard to see any of them holding both the Purdon-Rasmussen stars at bay, with key rival John Dunn opting for Captain Dolmio as the best of his three chances and he was beaten after leading last week.   Michael Guerin

Lazarus has a rare chance to complete a historic full set of major race wins after securing a perfect draw for Sunday's C$615,000 Canadian Pacing Derby. The champion Kiwi pacer has drawn barrier two in his second North American start, which is scheduled for 1.50pm (NZ time) on Sunday and after his bullying win in the Dan Patch in Indiana two weeks ago he has opened a $1.45 favourite with the NZ TAB. The Dan Patch was Lazarus' first start for his new United States owners after being sold for $4 million in the hopes he can win some of North America's biggest races and become a dual-hemisphere stallion prospect. The Dan Patch victory, in which Lazarus overcame barrier nine to lead for most of the race, saw the hype around the six-year-old go sky high and with Sunday's field not much stronger, Lazarus will only need to maintain that performance level to probably win again. Although trotting races are held in many parts of the world, the pacing gait is the focal point of the harness racing industry in only four countries - New Zealand, Australia, United States and Canada. If Lazarus wins on Sunday, he will have won a group one race or equivalent level race in all four of those countries inside 10 months. So while Kiwi pacing heroes such as Cardigan Bay and Young Quinn have tasted serious success in North America before, Lazarus' effort might be the first clean-sweep in such a short-time frame. Such is the interest in the superstar, Trackside television plan to have 20 minutes of lead-in from the Woodbine track before the race. Closer to home, Dream About Me looks set to start favourite in Friday night's Maurice Holmes Vase at Addington as the countdown to the New Zealand Trotting Cup starts to get serious. Thefixer downed Dream About Me in the first open class race of the season last Thursday but that was under handicap conditions with Dream About Me off 30m. On Friday, they meet under free-for-all conditions and with Dream About Me expected to derive enormous benefit from last Thursday she could well head the market. Both Thefixer and Dream About Me have been touted as possible Victoria Cup raiders in mid-October as that Melton classic is unlikely to have the depth of previous years and could be a lucrative target for the stablemates before they return to Addington for the New Zealand Cup in November. Michael Guerin

Cruz Bromac, winner of the Len Smith Mile in 1.50.1 earlier this year, has joined All Stars with an eye on the New Zealand Cup in November for which he was  nominated last week. Cruz Bromac, raced by Danny Zavitsanos the owner of All Stars pinups, Enhance Your Calm and War Dan Delight, was to travel home with the Breeders Cup horses this week. His last racing outing was a disappointing effort in the Blacks a Fake in Brisbane but two starts earlier had caused an upset in the Smith Mile beating Field Marshall after hot favourite Soho Tribeca broke early and took no part. Prior to that Cruz Bromac had beaten a moderate field in the 2700m  Warragul Cup before switching stables to become a stablemate of Tiger Tara who is also bound for the New Zealand Cup. Cruz Bromac has generally battled in high class company though 4th in the G1 Sky Classic in Perth as a four year old in 2015 driven by Luke McCarthy. Last year he clocked a 1.50.7 mile rate over 1720m to win at Melton though was well beaten in the Victoria Cup when 8th behind Lazarus. In 2016 he won the Group 2 Casey Classic ($A50,000) at Melton in a  1.56.4 mile rate  Altogether he has won 15 of his 30 starts and over over $250,000  Chris Barsby

Mark's winning drive behind Show Gait, trained by Reagan Todd for Natalie's mother, Cheryl, in the 3yo filly trot at the Breeder's Crown was quickly outshone by the stunning performance from Princess Tiffany in posting her 9th win from 9 starts after being parked and severely tested by rival Kualoa who led most of the way in the 2yo Pacing Final. Tiffany looked to be battling after a scorching second to last quarter in 27 but living up to Mark's rating as the best juvenile filly he and Natalie have trained, rallied with true grit and class to win the $A290,000 stake in 2.40.2 giving All Stars its 11th Breeder's Crown win though it was the 13th for Mark as a driver. It was her third Group 1 win for Braeden and Caroline Whitelock and Phil and Margaret Creighton. Her mile rate of 1.55.3 was faster than that of the 3 year old colts race, giving some idea of the great performance Tiffany put up. She thus emulates the feat of Partyon who won the Jewels-BC double two years ago. She won her first 10 races in a row-something Princess Tiffany has right in her sights after a well deserved spell.  Unhappily it didn't work out quite so well for ANOTHER MASTERPIECE in the 3yo final. He was checked out of the race at the start and while mounting a huge effort after a classic drive from Mark he just found his early exertions a little too much in a last 800m in 54.5 settling for a valiant third. Earlier in the night Stress Factor, a former All Star, won the 3yo trot for the Brent Lilley stable.   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stable http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/  

The intrigue ahead of the three-year-old IRT Breeders Crown Grand Final was akin to the goings on in Canberra this week, but there can only be one winner in any power struggle. And tonight at Tabcorp Park Melton rising superstar Ride High produced a lethal mix of ridiculous speed, ironclad strength and versatility to blow away his rivals in the race touted by many in the lead-up as “the best Crown contest in years”. “He’s done it with ease,” beamed winning reinsman Mark Pitt (pictured winning tonight on Hurricane Harley) aboard the Emma Stewart-trained colt affectionately known by stable name ‘Chainsaw’ and a son of megastar Alabar stallion Art Major. “He’s only lightly raced and every time he goes out there he just keeps getting better and better.” If a good drive is “a peach” then Pitt produced punnets – making a lighting move seven furlongs out to arrest control from Queenslander Grant Dixon aboard polemarker Colt Thirty One. Once Dixon relented, and Poster Boy and Ignatius – two of the race’s big guns – lagged back and didn’t pour on the mustard, Pitt was riding high. “I was a little bit surprised there weren’t a lot of challenges but the tempo was very genuine and I suppose it made it hard for the backmarkers,” Pitt said. Ride High notched a mile rate of 1:55.2. Colt Thirty One held on for second, with Poster Boy third. Earlier, another Art Major young star Our Princess Tiffany made it nine wins from nine career starts for New Zealand champion trainer Mark Purdon. Our Princess Tiffany twinkled under the Melton lights, parking outside boom filly Kualoa and finding gears at the finish when the others had simply nothing in reserve to take the Always B Miki at Alabar two-year-old fillies’ final. “She was very courageous and full credit to her. She took quite a bit out of herself over-racing, which surprised me a bit. Down the back I just let her roll so we got down the back pretty good. We were off the bit at the quarter, but it just survival of the fittest,” Purdon said. Our Princess Tiffany went 1:55.3, with Kualoa a brave second and Enchanted Stride third. Wrappers Delight continued marching towards an Inter Dominion 2018 campaign, blowing away a strong line-up in the Hygain four-year-old Crown final. Driven by Kima Frenning – the former Swedish monte rider who now boasts a huge Australian fan base – Wrappers Delight dominated to score by almost 10m. “I just have got absolutely no words,” Frenning said. “I’m just shaking my head. I’m so grateful that I get to drive him and Aiks (trainer David Aiken) has done an amazing job with this horse to get him where he is today. It’s been such a cool ride to be on.” To kick off the night – in glorious winter sunshine – Kiwi Stress Factor remained unbeaten on Australian soil with victory in the Woodlands Stud Breeders Crown for in-form trainer Brent Lilley and champion driver Chris Alford. Stress Factor dictated in front to beat Anywhere Hugo and Kyvalley Finn in 2:00.4. Alford went back-to-back in the second race, the Aldebaran Park Breeders Crown 2YO Trotting Fillies’ Final, courtesy of Sleepee – trained and owned by wife Alison. “Colin was kind enough to give us the opportunity to lease (Sleepee) and mum jumped in and took a share with me. It’s a little surreal, I never thought I’d own one, I always wanted to own one, and I said to Chris on Thursday I’m starting to get a bit nervous. He said I could have told you that on Monday.” Our Show Gait captured the three-year-old trotting fillies’ final for NZ trainer Regan Todd and Purdon, rating 2:01.2 to defeat Moonshine Linda. The two-year-old pacing final lived up to the hype, with Emma Stewart training the quinella as Hurricane Harley finished like a whirlwind to defeat Centenario to deliver driver Pitt the crown. “… He really dug deep and deserved to win,” Stewart said of the performance. Speak No Evil extended her winning streak to six in the Woodlands three-year-old fillies’ final – another win for Stewart/Alford – holding off Angel Of Arts in second and My Harmony Blue in third. “She’s had an amazing season really, winning this and winning Vicbred and an unlucky second in the Oaks as well,” Alford told Trots Vision. “You can’t ask much more.” Kyvalley Clichy secured Alford his fourth crown for the evening but in controversial circumstances, having to withstand a protest from runner-up Kate Gath aboard Dream Mastar after the winner broke stride in the run to the post. “I’m extremely happy. This is a race I’ve been very fortunate in over the last 18 years. I’m just very lucky and hope the luck continues,” said winning owner Jim Connelly. Dean Braun-trained Carlas Pixel showed she had classes on her rivals in the Nevele R Stud Breeders Crown four-year-old mares’ final, thoroughly dominating. Driven by Pitt – who won three crowns tonight – Carlas Pixel had to work to find the front early but had plenty left at the finish to score by almost 7m over runner-up Cherry Stride in 1:54.2. “She’s a fantastic mare. Every time we have taken her out she’s just got better and better,” Braun told Trots Vision. “She’s just got an amazing constitution, she never really gets sick. She’s just one of those horses; she’s a pleasure to train and the owners are really, really good people. She’s a star. She’s got a motor as big as herself.” Cody Winnell

A STAR-studded field of three-year-old boys has been assembled to contest tonight’s $195,000 IRT Group 1 Breeders Crown final. And racing, punting and media experts believe it is shaping at the season’s greatest harness race. Eight Group 1s are scheduled,peaking at 8.33pm with the three-year-old colts and geldings final. The voice of Victorian harness racing, Dan Mielicki, said there was a possibility this could be the best race in Victoria this season. “The high-quality depth is obvious,” he said. “It’s the end of the three-year-old season and looking at horses like Ignatius, Ride High, who is possibly still on the up, Poster Boy is such a classy professional and the Derby winner (Colt Thirty One) has drawn gate one and is almost an afterthought. “If people are struggling to put the Derby winner in their top three, that gives a reflection of how strong it is.” The quality is also reflected in the numbers. When compared to the previous four stagings of the race, the winning percentage of this year’s class (47 per cent of all starts) far exceeds any other. The next highest was 41 per cent in 2015-16, when Menin Gate saluted, and the average winning mile rate (1:56.6) was almost two seconds slower than this year’s contenders. The depth is not lost on top New Zealand trainer-driver Mark Purdon, who will steer South East Derby winner Duplicated, a $35 TAB chance, from gate 12. “The overall quality is high, four or five of the best chances could win any other year,” he said. “James Rattray’s Ignatius heat run was very, very good, as was Poster Boy — they are two real class acts.” Their war in last Saturday night’s Breeders Crown semifinal at Bendigo is burned into the memory of leading bookmaker Tom Hogan. “Poster Boy and Ignatius were the best of the heat runs,” he said. “I’d probably tip Poster Boy from Ignatius, but the depth and quality — I’m sure in 18 months’ these horses are going in Grand Circuit races and I’m sure they will measure up. “I’ve never seen a field like this — it presents as one of the greatest three-year-old races I’ve seen in the last 20 years. “This field is as good as you can get … usually you only get one or two that stand out, this time it’s five or six.” Michael Howard

Lamborghini or Harley? It’s a question for punters, but champion trainer Emma Stewart needn’t pick — both are in her stables near Ballarat. Stewart dominates tonight’s Woodlands Stud two-year-old pacing $290,000 colts and geldings Breeders Crown final, which presents as a crowning glory in a history-making season for a trainer who appears destined to eclipse Queensland legend Bill Dixon’s all-time Australian record of 299 wins in a season. Her stable boasts clear favourites in Centenario, named after the $2 million Lamborghini, and Hurricane Harley, as well as Hardhitter, Fourbigmen, Brevity and first emergency Nostra Ideal. “They haven’t surprised us, really, because they’re all wellbred stock, they’ve all had a good grounding and we’ve liked them ever since they’ve come along,” Stewart said. “They’ve been easy to do anything with the whole way through — we’ve been lucky with the crop this year.” Punters believe Centenario — from gate four — is the horse to beat, with TAB posting him at $1.75 fav, because he drew inside Hurricane Harley ($2.20 from gate five). Last time the Stewart stars met, Centenario won the Vicbred Super Series final as an $8.30 shot from barrier two, while Hurricane Harley misbehaved from gate one and came in 10th at $1.20. Both have sensational strike rates — Centenario has eight wins including two Group 1s from 10 starts for more than $257,000, and Harley six from eight for more than $101,000. “They’re hard to split,” Stewart said. “Centenario has done nothing wrong — he’s a genuine racehorse — but if Hurricane Harley was on his back then I’d be a little bit worried because he’s very fast.” If the Stewart juggernaut was to be upstaged, the odds suggest it may be another leviathan in famous colours. Champion New Zealand trainer Mark Purdon saddles up Im Anothermasterpiece, who ran an audacious second to Centenario in their semi-final at Bendigo last Saturday night and is the $6.50 third favourite. And while Stewart said “the market is probably right”, she admits to having a soft spot for $61 outsider Fourbigmen. “He can do a bit wrong at the races at the moment, but if he puts his best foot forward and there’s speed on early he’ll definitely be running home strong,” she said. “He is a great type, has a good attitude and is beautiful to look at.” For those who value trackwork, Stewart said “Fourbigmen can match Centenario here (at home) and Harley doesn’t work as good. “If you drove them here you’d pick Centenario every time because he’s a real good track worker whereas Hurricane just does what he has to. “Fourbigmen works as good at home, but at the races he’s a little bit naughty.” Stewart’s stable has 21 horses in action tonight.   Cody Winnell

Champion trainer Mark Purdon is as blunt as possible in assessing Dream About Me’s chances when New Zealand’s best pacing mare returns to Addington tonight.  “She will desperately need the run,” says Purdon matter-of-factly.  So while Dream About Me is by far the best performed horse in the National Handicap, Purdon doubts the former Auckland Cup winner will beat stablemate Thefixer, let alone win the race.  Dream About Me hasn’t raced since a luckless New Zealand Cup week last November, with hoof issues curtailing a season that earlier saw her push Lazarus to a half neck in the Flying Stakes at Ashburton.  The now six-year-old millionairess has had four trials to prepare her for tonight’s comeback but most have been quiet affairs and Purdon is adamant she will need the run.  “We have brought quite a few of ours up a little later this season and she is a big mare anyway so I’d be happy to see her running on,” he says.  “I would be pretty confident Thefixer would be too forward for her.” Punters might still be tempted by each way odds for Dream About Me as she comes in well at the handicaps and Purdon’s often cautious approach to his fresh runners have proven wrong before. But the reality is he will be happy to see driver Tim Williams relax Dream About Me and let her run on so for all her class even her biggest fans might be better off watching rather than punting tonight.  Thefixer is also fresh up from two wins at Cup week last November but is a more streamlined pacer and therefore forward enough to win but he is by no means a good thing as the Rovert Dunn stable have two reps who have looked more advanced than the Purdon-Rasmussen pair at recent public outings.  Letspendanitetogetha beat Alta Orlando, who has been scratched from tonight;’s race, and another stablemate Captain Dolmio at the most recent Rangiora workout that all of tonight’s big players lined up in.  A lot will depend on the tempo of the race and who gets the best run in what could be a game of cat and mouse but victory for Letspendanitetogetha or Captain Dolmio  wouldn’t surprise.  Purdon will watch the race from Victoria where he is putting the final touches on his powerful pair for Saturday night’s Breeders Crown finals at Melton. He is thrilled with unbeaten filly Princess Tiffany before her A$290,000 juvenile pace final while Another Masterpiece is also spot on heading into the boy’s equivalent but faces a second line draw.  “Princess Tiffany has handled the season incredibly well and she is as good if not better than she has been all year. I can’t fault her,” says Purdon.  “Another Masterpiece is also good but might have to sit parked which is a hard way to win.”  Purdon will also drive trotting filly Show Gait for young Canterbury trainer Regan Todd and says she worked the best she has this campaign yesterday morning and is the horse to beat in her A$70,000 final.   Michael Guerin

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