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Another day another harness racing record on the lightening fast Addington surface.  This time it was Ultimate Machete who won this years Woodlands NZ Free For All by blazing around the Addington track in a 1-51.9 mile rate. In doing so Ultimate Machete reclaimed a record he also once held this time last year.  The 4yo by Bettor's Delight trimmed 0.4 of a second off the old 1950m mobile record set only a few days earlier by stable mate Chase Auckland in the NRM Sires Stakes Final. Ultimate Machete had to be the best to win the race, after sitting parked for the whole way and then wearing down the leader Tiger Tara in the shadows of the post. Driver Natalie Rasmussen wasn't worried about sitting parked saying after the race "I was happy to be there. He is so tough and is best rolling along so it suits him. I could see Jacks legend was just starting to battle and I was still traveling. A great effort" Tiger Tara was game in defeat after leading for most of the way for driver Todd McCarthy. He pinged to the lead from the start and kept up a steady tempo but was beaten by a tougher horse on the day.  Jacks Legend was only a nose back in third after trailing all the way. Ultimate Machete zipped over his last 800m in 54.6 with a final quarter in 26.9 seconds. Close finish, but Ultimate Machete (far left) to strong      -   All Stars Stable photo Amazingly the last seven times a New Zealand record has been broken over the 1950m mobile distance, they have all been broken by a horse trained by the Purdon/Rasmussen All Stars Stable. 1950m New Zealand Record history. Ultimate Machete 17/11/2017 Addington Raceway 2-15.7 Chase Auckland 14/11/2017 Addington Raceway 2-16.1 The Devils Own 12/05/2017 Addington Raceway 2-16.3 Lazarus 11/11/2016 Addington Raceway 2-16.3 Ultimate Machete 08/11/2016 Addington Raceway 2-16.5 Have Faith In Me 11/11/2014 Addington Raceway 2-17.3 Auckland Reactor 10/11/2009 Addington Raceway 2-17.8   Ultimate Machete winning this years FFA   Harnesslink Media

Potential superstar Chase Auckland has won this years NRM Sires Stakes Final in record time and emulated the deeds of his father Auckland Reactor by winning the race at his fifth start to remain unbeaten on the racetrack. In what was arguably the best Sires Stakes field to date, Chase Auckland capitalised on a perfect run behind the pace maker King Of Swing, before darting up the passing lane in the straight and winning as he liked for driver Natalie Rasmussen. The time was an unbelievable 2-16.1 for the 1950m mobile which took 0.2 of a second off the old New Zealand record previously held jointly by stablemates The Devils Own and Lazarus.  His sire Auckland Reactor also won the sires stakes final on his fifth start and in 2009 he also once held the New Zealand record for the 1950m distance, which back then was 2-17.8 Natalie Rasmussen said on the All Stars website, "What I really respect about him is how he has taken each step up so well. Because they have been big steps"  "He was thrown in the deep end. He had to race against experienced horses who had done a lot of things at two and he hadn't but every question I have asked of him he has answered"  It was just five weeks ago that Chase Auckland's future was uncertain, as he had to be scratched from the third Sires Stakes Heat after getting cast in his box at home the day before the race.  History now shows that the speedy gelding went on to qualify for the final after winning the fourth qualifying heat and then yesterday he produced a magical result for the large group of owners in the Alabar Racing syndicate, many of whom were on track to witness the record breaking win. 14th of November - Chase Auckland 3rd of November - Chase Auckland 20th of October - Chase Auckland 29th of September - Chase Auckland 16th of September - Chase Auckland Harnesslink Media          

Lazarus has won the the harness racing $800,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup in emphatic style once again at Addington Raceway in Christchurch. Lazarus, who won the cup by 10 lengths last year, won easily again, this time by 5-3/4 lengths with enough in the tank for trainer-driver Mark Purdon to give a salute to the crowd before the finish line. "He's a champion," said Purdon, minutes after the win over Jack's Legend and Tiger Tara. Maxim was fourth. Lazarus paid just $1.40 for the win and it was a money back $1 for the place. READ MORE: * Live: NZ Trotting Cup day 2017 * Great clean-up begins after drunken debauchery at Melbourne Cup * Flashback: Kiwi flies to legendary Melbourne Cup win in 1983 * Expensive buy Embellish proves his value with 2000 Guineas win * Gingernuts a 50-50 chance to race again * NZ Cup Day 2017: All set for one of Canterbury's biggest parties ​Purdon, who trains with partner Natalie Rasmussen at Rolleston, controlled the race from soon after the start, though there was chaos there with Ricky May tipped from the cart of Seel The Deal and Lazarus' stablemate Dream About Me had her chances wrecked in the same collision.   GEORGE HEARD/STUFF Lazarus leads the field home once again in the New Zealand Trotting Cup.   Lazarus had the lead after 200m and was never seriously challenged. Purdon urged him to go 400m out and he put a gap on his rivals. It was all too easy. Purdon's brother Barry trained the game runner-up Jack's Legend, while Tiger Tara, now trained in Australia, did extremely well after breaking with about 800m to go, recovering to finish third. Mark Purdon said the key to the race was the start and Lazarus performed brilliantly after some practice at home since his last start.  GEORGE HEARD/FAIRFAX NZ Mark Purdon has combined with Lazarus to win the New Zealand Trotting Cup for the second year running.   Purdon said he had a look around with 400m to go, and said "let's go", pulling Lazarus' earplugs out and the horse responded. "He's a pleasure to train. There's no fuss about him, nothing smart about him, he's just one of the boys in the barn and just a lovely horse," Purdon told Trackside. Lazarus has now triumphed in his last eight starts and his race record stands at 31 wins from 36 starts, for prizemoney of around $2.6 million. Lazarus' next assignment is the Interdominion series in Perth, where he will tackle his Australian nemesis, Lennytheshark. It starts later this month with the final on December 8. Lazarus The Purdon-Rasmussen combination also had double-up success in the Group I Sires Stakes Final, with Chase Auckland keeping his unbeaten record as he marked himself as the horse of the future with a sizzling fast time. The son of Auckland Reactor paced the 1950m in 2:16.1, slicing 0.4sec of Ultimate Machete's national record last year. He followed out pacemaker King of Swing and Natalie Rasmussen just had to wait until the straight when the run presented itself and Chase Auckland sped home to win from a game King Of Swing by 2-3/4 lengths. "He had every opportunity to do it, it turned out perfectly," Rasmussen said. Chase Auckland The promising trotter Great Things Happen won the Group I Free-For-All for trainer-driver Gavin Smith. Mat Kermeen

The Heaven Rocks roller-coaster may be about to hit a high again at the right time. Although the oddball pacer has been a huge drifter in the market for tomorrow's $800,000 New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington, at least he is going to make the race now. And win, lose or draw tomorrow, a few days later he looks set to be a warm favourite for the rich New Zealand Free-For-All. After a weird few days which started with Heaven Rocks' trainers thinking he might have to be scratched from tomorrow's iconic race, he is now back in the fight and apparently ready to rumble.   The drama started when Heaven Rocks worked poorly by his high standards - he can be a dazzling track worker - on Friday, a disappointment which followed a poor blood report in the middle of last week. Co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen contacted stewards and told them the huge pacer was in doubt for the Cup but blood tests taken on Friday came back Saturday and painted a far brighter picture. Then Heaven Rocks blazed around the All Stars training track yesterday, easily accounting for race rival Have Faith In Me. "He feels far more like it and it is all systems go for the Cup now," said Rasmussen. "It looked like he was coming down with a virus but clearly he is better now." The drama-filled weekend comes after Heaven Rocks's crazy last six weeks, during which he shortened into Cup favouritism after some stunning trials before he appeared to have broken down when racing erratically in his comeback race at Addington on October 6. Although he has improved since with stablemate Lazarus looking faultless, Heaven Rocks has drifted from his market low $2.30 to win the Cup to a nearly backable $8 for tomorrow, with Lazarus now into a historic low $1.25. If the best version of Lazarus turns up, Heaven Rocks might be racing for second tomorrow but a positive performance could see him start a firm favourite for the $260,000 NZ Free-For-All on Friday. Of the Cup runners Lazarus, Have Faith In Me, Dream About Me, Piccadilly Princess and Tiger Tara are all likely to miss Friday's free-for-all as they are scheduled to leave for Australia on Thursday on their way to Perth Inter Dominion carnival. Northern mare Better B Amazed has already been pulled out of the meeting after some flat workouts while Locharburn and Waikiki Beach are scratched from the junior free-for-all tomorrow which could leave Friday's big group one pace headlined by Heaven Rocks and the likes of Jack's Legend, Titan Banner, No Doctor Needed and Maxim. Australian visitor Tiger Tara has been one of the big movers in the Cup market, into third favouritism at $12 and $2 a place after arriving in Christchurch in great shape and thrilling trainer Kevin Pizutto with his fast work on Saturday. "All you can ask to have your horse at his best and that's exactly where Tiger Tara is at," says Pizutto. "He's had a great prep back home, travelled over well and worked really well." Pizzuto, who is stabled at Mitchell Kerr's barn, worked Tiger Tara over 3200m in 4min 15sec. Michael Guerin

The Heaven Rock rollercoaster may be about to hit a high again at just the right time.  Because while the oddball pacer has been a huge drifter in the market for tomorrow’s $800,000 New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington, at least he is going to make the race now.  And win, lose or draw tomorrow a few days later he looks set to be a warm favourite for the rich New Zealand Free-For-All.  After a weird few days which started with Heaven Rocks’s trainers thinking he might have to be scratched from tomorrow’s iconic race, he is now back in the fight and apparently ready to rumble.  The drama started when Heaven Rocks worked poorly by his high standards -- he can be a dazzling track worker --- on Friday, a disappointment which followed a poor blood report in the middle of last week.  Co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen contacted stewards and told them the huge pacer was in doubt for the Cup but blood tests taken on Friday came back Saturday and painted a far brighter picture.  Then Heaven Rocks blazed around the All Stars training track yesterday, easily accounting for race rival Have Faith In Me.  “He feels far more like it and it is all systems go for the Cup now,” said Rasmussen. “It looked like he was coming down with a virus but clearly he is better now.” The drama-filled weekend comes after Heaven Rocks’s crazy last six weeks, during which time he shortened into Cup favouritism after some stunning trials before he appeared to have broken down when racing erratically in his comeback race at Addington on October 6.  While he has improved since with stablemate Lazarus looking faultless, Heaven Rocks has drifted from his market low $2.30 to win the Cup to a nearly backable $8 for tomorrow, with Lazarus now into an historic low $1.25.    If the best version of Lazarus turns up, and it usually does, then Heaven Rocks might be racing for second tomorrow but a positive performance could see him start a firm favourite for the $260,000 NZ Free-For-All on Friday.  Of the Cup runners Lazarus, Have Faith In Me, Dream About Me, Piccadilly Princess and Tiger Tara are all likely to miss Friday’s free-for-all as they are scheduled to will Thursday for Australia on their way to Perth Inter Dominion carnival.  Northern mare Better B Amazed has already been pulled out of the meeting after some flat workouts while Locharburn and Waikiki Beach are scratched from the junior free-for-all tomorrow which could leave Friday’s big group one pace headlined by Heaven Rocks and the likes of Jack’s Legend, Titan Banner, No Doctor Needed and Maxim.  Australian visitor Tiger Tara has been one of the big movers in the Cup market, into third favouritism at $12 and $2 a place after arriving in Christchurch in great shape and thrilling trainer Kevin Pizutto with his fast work on Saturday. Michael Guerin

NZ Cup second favourite Heaven Rocks is back on track for the great race. His trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen sent shock waves through the race market when they contacted stewards on Friday to suggest the huge pacer was under a cloud. Heaven Rocks, who has had a topsy turvy season at best before a brilliant win at Addington eight days ago, had worked “flat” on Friday and the All Stars were worried he may be coming down with a virus. But blood tests taken after that workout came back on Saturday and the outlook is far better.  “We were thrilled with how his blood reports looked so he is heading toward the Cup now,” says Rasmussen. She will drive the five-year-old from the unruly in the Cup, for which he is the $6 second favourite behind stablemate Lazarus. In other Cup day news, high class northern mare Better B Amazed has been scratched from the junior free-for-all after working poorly. “She isn’t quite right so we will bring her home, miss Cup week and set her for the mares’ races at the Auckland meeting next month,” says trainer Steve Telfer. She joins Waikiki Beach and Locharburn as high-profile scratchings from the free-for-all.   Michael Guerin

Classy 3yo Chase Auckland emulated his father Auckland Reactor when he won his fourth race in a row at Addington tonight. Champion harness racing pacer and now successful sire Auckland Reactor also won his first four starts before going on to win the Sires Stakes Final at his fifth start back in 2007. Tonight Chase Auckland was in cruise mode as he led and won as he liked in a 1-54.5 mile rate, with driver Natalie Rasmussen not even turning the stick as he zipped home in 54.8 seconds for his last 800m. Another Purdon/Rasmussen trained horse The Devils Own was a game second after sitting parked and Afterdinnerspeaker ran home well for third. The Alabar Racing Syndicate who own Chase Auckland, will be hoping history repeats itself in just over two weeks time, when the speedy gelding has his fifth start in this years running of the Sires Stakes final. Smart 3yo Alta Maestro qualified for the Sires Stakes final tonight after leading all the way in a super 1-53.0 mile rate for the 1950m mobile. Driver Dexter Dunn had the pedal down early to cross the field out of the gate and then kept it down for the rest of the race to set up the superb time of 2-17.0. Trainer Robert Dunn was confident before the race saying, "If he can lead then I think whatever beats him will win".  "Last season he struggled a bit with tie up issues but I am much happier with him now and he is relishing the beach training". Favourite for the race Spankem, looked like he would pick up the leader halfway down the straight but Alta Maestro (Art Major - Alta Camilla) fought back gamely to win by a head and cement his place in the Sires Stakes final on Cup day. Alta Maestro winning his race tonight Chase Auckland Harnesslink Media    

One-time New Zealand Cup favourite Heaven Rocks won't get a better chance to put his campaign back on track than at Addington tonight. Because for the first time this season the mammoth pacer might be able to secure his beloved pacemaking role and finally pay back the punters he burned in October. The two-time Jewels winner actually touched NZ Cup favouritism last month on the back of some stunning private and public workouts, a fact which hardly seems believable considering his subsequent form and that of stablemate Lazarus since. While Lazarus has produced three increasingly-brilliant wins, Heaven Rocks has produced one shocker and then a solid third in the Ashburton Flying Stakes when he was driven with a sit. He doesn't have to put up with Lazarus tonight but stablemates Dream About Me and Have Faith In Me (whom he shares the 30m backmark with) and Ultimate Machete (10m) still stand in his way. Trainer Mark Purdon found it hard to split the quartet but admitted if partner Natalie Rasmussen let Heaven Rocks loose tonight he could work to the lead and if he secures that role and feels confident and comfortable we may see something more like his best. Still, after his spring setbacks punters will want $2.50 to make it worth their while tonight, especially with Dream About Me pushing Lazarus close last start and Ultimate Machete already capable of open class times. On a night where the All Stars will also dominate with three-year-olds in the Sires' Stakes heat for boys and girls, as well as having the unbeaten Chase Auckland in another race, one of the real highlights could be the big trot. It features two potential open class stars in Ronald J and Dark Horse, both getting ready for Cup week and newcomers who have looked special in the grades. Considering Ronald J was a huge comeback third to Bordeaux at Kaikoura on Monday it almost seems unfair Dark Horse has to give him a 10m start but their manners will probably play a larger role in the final outcome than their handicaps. If Ronald J can work to the lead even Dark Horse's rare speed - and she might be the fastest trotter racing in the country over 400m - might not be enough for her to run him down. Alexandra Park also race tonight while NZ Cup contender Tiger Tara will confirm his Addington trip if he performs well at Menangle tomorrow night. Best bet: Funatthebeach (Addington, R1): Beaten by a good horse on debut and drawn to win tonight. Top trotter: Ronald J (Addington, R9): For all Dark Horse's speed, she might struggle to run Ronny down. Michael Guerin

Harness racing trainer Mark Purdon has withdrawn Cash N Flow from the New Zealand Cup. Mark said on the All Stars website, "It is a shame Cash N Flow can't make the Cup now. I will withdraw him on Tuesday. He's had an issue up there and we are going to get him scanned in Matamata to see if we can find the problem. It may be related to an earlier injury or it might not. Hopefully we can get a better understanding of it. But the Cup is out". The New Zealand Cup is down to a field of fourteen at present which includes Australian star Tiger Tara. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto is still keen to come to the Cup with Tiger Tara and will be here for the race in November depending on suitable travel. ____________________________________________________________________________ Ultimate Machete had no issues with his first race-day standing start when beating a good field of pacers yesterday at Ashburton. The Bettor's Delight 4yo began well for driver Natalie Rasmussen and was taken around the field to sit parked with a lap to go. In the straight Ultimate Machete was too strong for the opposition winning untouched in a quick 2-56.9 for the 2400m stand. The last 800m was run in a sizzling 53.9 showing that he would have been competitive in the Ashburton Flying Stakes won by stable mate Lazarus later in the day. Ultimate Machete will now head to Cup week for races like the Junior Free For All after a Perth trip was ruled out by the stable yesterday.    Ultimate Machete winning at Ashburton yesterday Harnesslink Media

Harness racing champion Auckland Reactor is starting to leave his mark on the race track, as a sire of good 3yo horses. In Chase Auckland, he has a potential champion son, judging by the way the Purdon/Rasmussen trained gelding defeated a quality field of three year olds tonight at Addington. Driver Natalie Rasmussen drove a calculating race with Chase Auckland in winning the third NRM Sires Stakes heat. Rasmussen shot to the lead from barrier two behind the mobile and then handed up to stable mate The Devils Own to trail for the most of the race. In the straight the Chase Auckland dug in for the fight and Natalie urged his nose in front on the line to beat a quality All Stars line up of, The Devils Own, Spankem and All About Faith to win by a narrow margin. The time for the 1950m mobile was a quick 2-17.9, a mile rate of 1-53.8, with the last 800m cut out in a sizzling 54.9 seconds. Chase Auckland (Auckland Reactor - Delicata) is owned by the Alabar Racing Syndicate, many of whom were on track tonight to cheer on the win Chase Auckland winning his third race from three starts   Earlier in the night Auckland Reactor produced another exciting winner in Blue Blazer, who won his third start by a head after some good trial performances in recent weeks. Blue Blazer (Auckland Reactor - Jet Spirit)  rated 1-58.4 for the 1950m mobile and gave trainer Trent Yesberg his first training win at his sixth attempt.  Trent Yesberg getting his first training win with Blue Blazer. Harnesslink Media

Champion harness racing pacer Lazarus has won the (G2) $50,000 Inkwise Canterbury Classic at Addington tonight, and in the process reclaimed his status as New Zealand Trotting Cup favourite with the TAB bookmakers.  Lazarus who was only in to the field to get the race off the ground, began well for driver Mark Purdon and trailed for most of the race, before zipping up the passing lane to grab the leader Have Faith In Me with 50m to go. The winner paced the the 2600m stand in 3-19.3 with a final 800m in a quick 55.3 and 400m in 26.1 seconds.  Heaven Rocks who was expected to be more forward than Lazarus and a better chance tonight, never paced well at any stage and dropped out to finish last of the five horse field. Driver Natalie Rasmussen said, "early indications by the vet, was that Heavens Rock had suffered a fractured pastern, but they would be investigating further after the horse had cooled down". Earlier in the night Bordeaux won the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup for Flaxton (North Canterbury) trainer Philip Iggo.  Bordeaux was taken to the front by driver Dexter Dunn after 600m and he led for the rest of the race, before holding off the strong finish of Great Things Happen and Gavin Smith, to win by a narrow margin. Dexter drove a double for the night when Pat's Delight surged to an impressive win in the 2nd NRM Sires Stakes Heat.  Pat's Delight rated 1-56.0 when defeating a strong field, with a closing 800m in 55.7 and 400m in 27.7 Lazarus narrowly winning the (G2) $50,000 Inkwise Canterbury Classic   Harnesslink Media  

Unbeaten 3yo gelding Chase Auckland has been scratched from tonights Sires Stakes heat at Addington, after getting cast in his box last night.  The classy Auckland Reactor gelding was a short $1.50 fixed odds favourite to win tonights race. Last night the TAB bookmakers had also opened the Sires Stakes Final market and installed Chase Auckland a $3.60 favourite for the $170,000 Sires Stakes Final on November 14th. Natalie Rasmussen said on the All Stars Website, "At this stage we don't know how serious it is from a Sires Stakes season point of view and we will probably not be sure until Monday. He just got cast in his box and rapped something while he was at it". "He is a great drive at the races but can be a bit playful at home so it is a case of waiting to see how long he will have to be out of work." Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen still have The Devils Own and Funatthebeach entered in tonights Sires Stakes Heat, with The Devils Own now a clear $1.90 favourite on the fixed odds win market.   Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing super star Auckland Reactor may have cloned himself, judging by the way Chase Auckland demolished a nice field at Addington raceway tonight. Having his second race day start for trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Chase Auckland cruised to another effortless victory over a strong field, winning by three lengths and pacing the 1950m mobile in a 1-56.5 mile rate. His closing splits were quick, with the last 800m cut out in 56.3 and the final 400m in a blistering 26.3 seconds which was the fastest last quarter of the night. Driver Natalie Rasmussen said on the All Stars website after the win, "He was really excellent tonight. He is a good horse. Not only has he got talent but he is a great wee racehorse with it. You can put him anywhere in the field and he just relaxes. It is not every horse at its second start you can have parked but he just does it." Natalie went on to say, "I think Michael (Purdon) deserves a lot of the credit. He has spent a lot of "one on one" time with Chase because he has had his moments but Michael has soft hands and is calm in the cart and it has had a lot of benefit for Chase Auckland." Chase Auckland (Auckland Reactor - Delicata) is owned by the Alabar Racing Syndicate, many of whom were on track tonight to cheer on the win. The Chase Auckland Alabar syndicate celebrate his second win  - Photo All Stars Stable Next up for the speedy 3yo is a heat of the NRM Sires Stakes Series on Friday 6th October at Addington.  Chase Auckland winning easily   Harnesslink Media Read more at www.allstarsracingstables.com  

The progeny of harness racing champion Auckland Reactor are starting to emerge throughout Australasia, including a potential topliner who won his first race-day start in good fashion at Addington today (Saturday). Chase Auckland was having his first start out of the Purdon/Rasmussen All Stars Stable and ended up demolished a strong field without being fully extended by his driver Natalie Rasmussen. The race was run at a solid clip, with Rasmaussen taking Chase Auckland to the front after 600m. Despite a strong mid race attack by second favourite Ready To Rumble and Blair Orange, Chase Auckland had the field covered at the turn, and he went on to win by more than five lengths with no urging needed from the driver. The speedy Auckland Reactor gelding paced the 1950m mobile in a 1.58.8 mile rate with a closing 800m in 58.4 and 400m in 28.7 seconds. Ironically it was exactly 10 years to the day that Auckland Reactor won his first start. It was on the 16th of September 2007 at Timaru rating a 2.01.9 mile rate over 2000 metres.. Chase Auckland will now head to a heat of the Sires Stakes Series in a few weeks time. Chase Auckland winning easily in quick time. Harnesslink Media

The fightback begins today for former pacing hero turned mystery mess Have Faith In Me. But trainer Mark Purdon admits he doesn’t totally understand what he is fighting. The now six-year-old pacer was rated one of the best in the world this time last season and opened as last year’s New Zealand Cup favourite, fair enough too as he was the Auckland Cup winner and the fastest ever Miracle Mile winner. But while stablemate Lazarus produced the near perfect season, Have Faith In Me only showed rare glimpses of anything approaching his best and became the punter’s enemy. The wayward tendencies he was supposed to grow out of got worse and it took extensive testing before a kidney complaint was the best the vets could pinpoint as the source of his problems. Whatever it was, or still is, it has seen Have Faith In Me careen down the pecking order of our best horses as he returns to the public domain at the Rangiora trials today. Purdon, just back from a luckless but enjoyable World Drivers Champs in Canada, is quietly hopeful whatever ailed Have Faith In Me won’t be as big an issue this season. “He seems good so far, but then again he did at this stage last season too,” says the training phenomenon. “He has had a decent spell, seems sound and happy and it is a case of treating him like there is nothing wrong with him any more until we find a reason to change our minds.” Have Faith In Me will be joined at today’s trials by fellow Auckland Cup winner stablemate Dream About Me, whose season was also curtailed by health issues but not before she suggested she is a very special mare.  “She looks big and round but we are very happy with her and because these two had earlier spells than the other top horses they will race sooner. “They are likely to kick off at Addington in two weeks.”The stable’s two New Zealand Cup favourites Lazarus and Heaven Rocks are a month away from the races, with Purdon saying Lazarus has put on muscle without getting any taller.  “I am very happy with him and while the others are very good, he is still clearly the one to beat for me.  “I think Heaven Rocks has as much ability but he doesn’t have the same manners and that could be crucial while Have Faith In Me would have to return right back to his Miracle Mile best of last year to get back to Laz’s level.” The quartet give the All Stars a unheard of dominance of the New Zealand Cup market, with Titan Banner still a chance to rejoin them from usual trainer Graeme Anderson, although he is set to race at Addington on Friday night in Anderson’s name.  “I haven’t heard exactly what they are planning to do with him so am not sure whether we are getting him back,” says Purdon of last season’s NZ Cup third placegetter. Also on show at the trials today will be former US trotter Aldebaran Eagle, good enough to trot 1:52 in North America. “He obviously has real talent but has had a few issues along the way. He will be up to the good trotters here at his best. Whether he is at Monbet’s level we will have to wait and see.”  While Purdon and partner Natalie Rasmussen’s early season focus will as usual be on the Cup meeting at Addington, the odds are shortening on Lazarus heading to Perth for the Inter Dominions shortly after the Addington carnival. “We have nominated both Laz and Have Faith In Me and the intention is to take Lazarus so he will be going unless there is a problem along the way.” Michael Guerin

Another Carnival and another display of dominance from the All Stars’ barn.  Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen finished the Queensland Winter Carnival with five runners for four wins and a third.  Partyon landed the Provincial Oaks and ran third in the Queensland Oaks, while The More The Better won all three starts – Premiers’ Cup, Provincial Derby and last Saturday night’s Group Two Queensland Derby.  He saved his best for last. The Queensland Derby win was a bit special. The times said so.  The More The Better’s 1.56 mile rate for 2680m broke Im Themightyquinn’s track record. It was 0.1 quicker than Hectorjayjay ran winning the Group One Blacks A Fake a few races later.  And part-owner Roy Purdon was trackside to watch it.  Natalie Rasmussen partnered The More The Better to his first two Queensland wins, but she’s away on holiday so Mark Purdon took the reins himself this time. The result was the same.  Purdon drove as though he was on the best horse, and basically bludgeoned his way to the lead inside a lap. From there he was always going to be impossible to beat.  Last start Queensland Oaks winner Shartin, who led and took the trail, tried hard along the sprint lane to get within a half-neck, while another filly My Casino Belle ran a monstrous third after sitting parked in blistering times.  Former Purdon pacer Motu Meteor was shuffled to three pegs, and found it impossible to bridge the gap on the winner in a 27.3 last quarter. He ran a solid fourth.  The More The Better and Partyon now head to Sydney to qualify for the Breeders Crown, and then it’s on to Melbourne for the semis and finals of the Crown.    Top Queensland trainer Grant Dixon is hitting the road again with his buzz juvenile Colt Thirty One.  Dixon thought enough of the Mach Three colt to have a dip at the Australian Gold series at Menangle back in April, but immaturity got the better of him.  He learned from the experience and has returned to Queensland a lethal force, as evidence by his amazing 20m win in a sizzling 1.53.9 mile rate in the Group One Qbred final at Albion Park last Saturday night.  “We’re taking him to the Breeders Crown,” part-owner and breeder Kevin Seymour said. “We have to take him after what he did tonight (Saturday).”  With stand-out juvenile Lumineer out with injury, it’s a smart play by Seymour and Dixon.  On what Colt Thirty One did Saturday night, he looms as one of the major players in the Crown.  The other Group One Qbred winner, NSW filly Arts Treasure, could also head to the Crown.  “She’s got so much talent, but is still pretty big and raw,” trainer-driver James Rattray said. “That’s one of the most challenging drives I’ve had, but thankfully she did enough right to get the job done.”    There is some serious X-factor about former Kiwi juvenile Jack Mac.  Yes he might not be beating much in the WA juvenile features, but it’s more about the way he’s doing it and the times he is running.  Throw in the fact his driver Chris Lewis – a renowned hard-marker – has a huge opinion of him and you know this is no ordinary youngster.  The son of Mach Three arrived in WA with five unplaced NZ starts under his belt, but has belied that with six wins from as many starts.  The latest was the biggest in the $125,000 Group One Golden Slipper (2130m) at Gloucester Park last Friday night.  The colt sat parked early, worked to the front, left his rivals standing to win by 7.3m and broke the race record with a 1.57 mile rate. “The colt appreciates his new environment and has thrived since recently joining our stable,” trainer Barry Howlett said. “We plan to start him in the Golden Slipper, then he’ll go for a spell. “Next season’s three-year-old feature events will be on his programme.”    Still on Gloucester Park and champion driver Gary Hall Jr put on a clinic last Friday night.  Hall Jr won half the 10-race card on a mix of favourites and outsiders.  The highlight was yet another sparkling and effortless win from buzz four-year-old Chicago Bull in the Free-For-All.  Hall Jr’s other wins came with The Publisher and Zach Maguire in races one and five for his father, trainer Gary Hall Sr.  He then finished off the night winning the second-last race on Sprinter for Gary Elson and $28.30 shot Illusionation for trainer Glenn Elliott in the final event.    The decision to try and rejuvenate classy NSW mare Ameretto by sending her south to Kerryn Manning has been a smash hit.  She’s improved at each of her four runs and looked positively stunning winning the Group Three Jane Ellen for mares’ by a cricket pitch at Melton last Friday night.  In a solidly run race, Ameretto stormed around the field out three wide to quickly put the race beyond doubt, and beat a good field by 17.3m in a blazing 1.55.4 mile rate for 2240m.  Ameretto won 17 races over her two, three and four-year-old seasons with Ashlee Grives (formerly Siejka), but had raced below her best with five NSW unplaced runs before being sent to Manning.  She’s now won 18 races and almost $270,000 with the promise of plenty more to come given the nature of her win last Friday.  It was the first leg of a training and driving double for Manning, who also scored with former Kiwi pacer Itz Bettor To Win in the seventh race.  The Merv Butterworth-owned gelding is gradually getting back to the potential he showed as a younger horse, and before being sidelined with injury.  The now five-year-old only scored by a head, but it was the fact he came from an outside back row draw, and around the field in a 1.54.7 mile rate for 1720m.    The controversial date switch and stakemoney cut for the Victoria Cup has certainly divided opinions.  Like it not, HRV has at least been able to snare a sponsor with Allied Express signing-on for the October 14 feature at Melton.  Passionate harness man Colin McDowell, still involved strongly on the breeding and training side of things through his family, is Allied’s CEO and was thrilled to sponsor the Victoria Cup.  An even bigger coup will come if the new timeslot means buzz WA pacer Chicago Bull makes the trip across for Perth for the Victoria Cup. Adam Hamilton

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