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Two absolute superstars of harness racing have joined the field for the prestigious Lexus of Macarthur Lady Drivers' Invitational Race at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Miracle Mile night, Saturday, February 24. Natalie Rasmussen and Kerryn Manning will be driving in this annual event, which has a history of showcasing the best lady drivers from all around Australasia. Many of the stars are based in New South Wales these days, which gives the locals a great chance of matching their skills with two of the most decorated women drivers the sport has ever had. Club Menangle and Lexus of Macarthur today announced the field for this year's race would consist of: Amanda Turnbull Lauren Tritton Ashlee Grives Martelle Maguire Ellen Rixon KerryAnn Turner Angela Hedges Emma Turnbull Kerryn Manning Nat Rasmussen While Rasmussen and Manning confirmed their attendance, the NSW-based drivers were selected from last season's premiership, except for Martelle Maguire, who is the reigning champion from last year's feature. Of course, if one of the drivers does have a horse engaged as a trainer, there are three more enthusiastic young drivers waiting to step into the spotlight and take their places. They are: Madi Young, Mckaylar Barnes and Laura Spencer. On a star-studded night's harness racing, featuring the $750,000 Ainsworth Miracle Mile and an incredible five more Group One features, the $25,000 Lexus Lady Drivers Invitational will attract plenty of interest as our best women drivers battle for supremacy. Michael Court

Natalie Rasmussen has appealed the suspension she received when driving Heaven Rocks into third place in this years Hunter Cup. Natalie stated on the All Stars Website, she feels the three week penalty she received for "half carting" during the Hunter Cup was excessive and has a stay of proceedings until her appeal against the penalty is held. The penalty would prevent her driving Heaven Rocks, The Devii's Own, Partyon etc on Miracle Mile day at Menangle. "It is the first time I have been charged with that offence  and compared with what other drivers were receiving for penalty it seems very harsh" Natalie says that Heaven Rocks receiving a warning for barrier manners at Ballarat which led to his removal from the mobile draw after the Hunter Cup was "news to us" "We didn't know about that and indeed we weren't told about the Hunter Cup decision either. It is a blow for "Mene's" chances." Meanwhile Lazarus is primed for a tilt at the $750,000 Group 1 Miracle Mile to be run at Menangle on the 24th February.  The current track and Australasian mile record is 1-47.5 which was set by All Stars runner Have Faith In Me in the 2016 Miracle Mile. Mark Purdon has said in the media, "Lazarus could go a 1-46 mile if needed", which would obliterate the current record by more than a second if he can run that sort of time.   Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing giant Heaven Rocks will target the Hunter Cup as his next assignment, after holding off a gallant Lennytheshark when winning the Ballarat Pacing Cup last night. In the hands of Natalie Rasmussen, Heaven Rocks mustered enough speed to lead from barrier one and then only had to hold off the main danger Lennytheshark who tracked him all the way from his inside second row draw.  "He was a bit hot and cold during the race, but it was a good run to win," said Natalie. "His next start will be the Hunter Cup and then it will be on to Sydney for the Miracle Mile. That Menangle track will suit him with his speed," she said. Heaven Rocks was getting tired over the last 50m, but it was understandable after he paced the 2710m mobile in a 1-55.9 mile rate, beating a closing Lennytheshark by half a neck at the line. It was a good night for the All Stars Stable who also produced Spankem to comfortably win the second heat of the Victoria Derby in a 1-56.7 mile rate beating Code Bailey and The Brooklyn Brawler. All Stars runner The Devils Own ran a close third in the first heat of the derby, which was won by the Emma Stewart trained The Poster Boy.   Heaven Rocks winning last nights Ballarat Pacing Cup.     Harnesslink Media  

Interest in Lot 156 at next month's harness racing Ladbrokes Australian Pacing Gold Sale in Melbourne is expected to increase following tonight's Ballarat Pacing Cup. While the colt was always going to attract some spirited bidding, the number of buyers looking to purchase the yearling is destined to grow. From Group Two winner Mendelico, the youngster is by top stallion Sportswriter. Mendelico is better-known as the dam of Heaven Rocks, which led throughout Ballarat's $100,000 Group One feature. With co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen in the cart, Heaven Rocks began quickly to find the front from the pole before accounting for Lennytheshark, which trailed the pacemeker from the inside of the second row. Shadow Sax suffered his first defeat for the season when eight metres away third. "He is such an electrifying horse when he puts his mind to it," Rasmussen said. "Because he can be erratic you've always got to be a little weary, but tonight he did well. "He got a little keen in the middle stages and took a bit to come back to me, but it was a good run overall." Also an APG purchase, Heaven Rocks rated a slick 1:55.9 over 2710 metres, taking his record to 12 wins and five placings from 25 starts for earnings of $419,818. To be given "a few light days", the son of Rock N Roll Heaven will then be aimed at the A G Hunter Cup at Melton on February 3. "The Hunter Cup will be his next race," Rasmussen said. "After that he will head up to Sydney for the Miracle Mile, which will really suit him. "He's such a quick horse, so a fast sprint down Menangle's long straight is something he will enjoy." Ballarat Pacing Cup APG Media

Better B Amazed might have found the right race to kick off the final leg of her career tonight. The national-record-holding mare is getting close to retirement, with the group one Breeders Stakes at Addington in a few months her last shot at the highest honour before she retires for what will be a very commercial broodmare career. After a difficult summer during which she missed her main aim, the Queen Of Hearts, Better B Amazed has pleased trainer Steve Telfer in her recent work and finds herself back over her favourite distance at Alexandra Park tonight. She has won five of her seven attempts over 1700m, twice beating open class stablemate No Doctor Needed under those conditions in the spring. Tonight she meets a mixed bag of horses assessed well below her, an out of sorts Motown and Northview Hustler, who ran out of his skin to finish fifth in the Auckland Cup last start. Sprint races at Alex Park are often tricky, particularly from wide draws, but if they go hard Better B Amazed can start her final campaign with a win. Telfer holds a big hand at tonight's first Alex Park meeting of the year with winning hopes in three other races, not bad considering there are only six pacing races on tonight's eight-race card and Telfer doesn't train trotters. The markets for trotting races are often dominated by trainers John and Josh Dickie and they will have a huge hand to play in the two trots tonight with Sertorius (race two) and Girls On Film (race four). Sertorius meets some in-form rivals but is far better than his current assessment while Girls On Film is living up to her huge sales price and looks the early Trotting Oaks favourite. Later in the night the first juvenile fillies race of the season will see Miss Streisand start a warm favourite after she smashed most of her opponents at workouts recently. Meanwhile, Auckland Cup winner Vincent has been scratched from tomorrow night's A$100,000 Ballarat Cup after bumping a leg yesterday. "At this stage it is only as a precaution and we will have an ultrasound taken to see how serious it is," said co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen. "But we are hoping to still get him to the Chariots of Fire in Sydney next month." New Zealand still has Heaven Rocks in the Ballarat Cup and Spankem and The Devil's Own in strong Victoria Derby heats tomorrow night. Michael Guerin

The king has gone to a whole new level. Which is bad news for Lazarus's rivals in tonight's A$300,000 Fremantle Cup in Perth and any others who get in his way as he starts a 43-day, three-state campaign aimed at A$2.1 million worth of races. The champion New Zealand pacer is a $1.30 favourite to win tonight's 2536m mobile (held at 12.44am NZ time) against many of the horses he thrashed in last month's Inter Dominion final on the same track, with the main addition being his own stablemate Ultimate Machete. While some bookies have Ultimate Machete the second favourite and co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen makes the trip to Perth to drive him, Purdon says he won't be beating Lazarus.   "I think something would need to happen to Laz for him to get beaten, even as good as Ultimate Machete is going," says Purdon. "He is just loving it here and I think the hard racing he has had has improved him and he has gone to another level, a level the others aren't at. "He feels fantastic and he is used to sitting parked to win over here now, which he will probably have to do again. But I think all the hard racing he has had has toughened him up and made him even better." Just as important as that toughness is Lazarus's soundness, which Purdon says shouldn't be a probem in the five group one races he contests over the next six weeks, ending in the Miracle Mile. "He is very sound so all going well that won't be an issue and a lot of these top horses are facing similar programmes. "So the six weeks might be harder on them than it is on him." Ultimate Machete has been outstanding in Perth but with his lack of gate speed he faces being three wide for at least part of the race and that suggests a local like Chicago Bull could get closest to Lazarus, as he did in the Inter Final. Closer to home at Cambridge tonight, trainer Steve Telfer finds himself in the rarest of all racing situations, going into a tote race knowing he will win. Telfer trains all six starters in race two at Cambridge tonight, a feat occasionally matched in smaller non-tote races in New Zealand but almost unheard of in a proper race, especially one with some high class pacers. "We have a lot of horses in this grade and I am grateful to the club for holding the race but it is a weird feeling knowing you are going to win it no matter what." That has sent Telfer searching for five sets of his colours, with Valor Lustre racing in owner Ivan Court's colours. Perhaps the best of the Steve Six is American Brave, who has won three of just seven starts but comes with a warning tonight as he hasn't raced since the Sires' Stakes Final at Addington two months ago. "He trialled well last week and was going to have another this weekend but they aren't on so he is here instead. "Because of that lack of hard fitness I don't want him having a hard run early so he might look for cover and that can often be a tricky way to win at Cambridge," says Telfer. "While small fields can be hard to work out I'd say our best two chances are Triple Eight and Step Up." Telfer also has a huge chance with Ideal Roman in tomorrow's Parawai Cup as the northern grass track circuit returns. MIchael Guerin

Remarkable high-achieving horsewoman Natalie Rasmussen makes a nostalgic return to Perth this week determined to add another chapter to her illustrious career as a harness racing driver of the highest quality. She will drive one of her favourite pacers, Ultimate Machete, in the $300,000 Retravision Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park when she hopes to land her second winner in Western Australia. Keen harness racing fans will remember her as an 18-year-old who represented Queensland in the Australasian Young Drivers Championship series at Harvey, Pinjarra and Gloucester Park in March 1996. She did not fare very well in the ballot for drives and did well to finish fifth behind WA’s Craig Goldfinch in the field of ten drivers. She finished third with Just A Joker (8/1) and fifth behind Son of Song (10/1) at Harvey, fourth with Blake Apollo (33/1) and fifth with Confide In Me (14/1) at Pinjarra and had sixth placings with Be Be Brosnik (16/1) and Bessarlie (11/2) at Gloucester Park. Then on her second and most recent visit to Perth she was successful in a $10,500 invitation 1740m event for mares and restricted to female drivers at Gloucester Park in May 2004. She drove the David Pyburne-trained five-year-old Whitehouse Whisper, the solitary runner on the back line in a field of ten.  Whitehouse Whisper, second favourite at 5/2, raced without cover in the first circuit before gaining an ideal passage and then finishing strongly to defeat Cee Jay Blaze (Emma Turnbull) by a neck. Rasmussen has an outstanding record in the sulky behind four-year-old Ultimate Machete, having driven him 14 times for nine wins and five seconds. Ultimate Machete, a powerfully-built stallion and unbeaten in three starts at Gloucester Park, is favourably drawn at the No. 2 barrier on the front line and is generally considered one of the main dangers to his champion stablemate Lazarus. Rasmussen, the co-trainer with Mark Purdon at the All Stars establishment in Christchurch, has an outstanding record in the sulky in New Zealand where she has had 547 drives for 204 wins, 103 seconds and 69 thirds for $6,286,467 in prizemoney. Born in Townsville in 1977, she is best known as the trainer and driver of Blacks A Fake, the winner of four Interdominion pacing championships in Hobart (2006), Globe Derby Park (2007), Moonee Valley (2008) and Menangle (2010). Rasmussen also trained and drove Blacks A Fake when he finished a close second to Mr Feelgood in the 2009 Inters on the Gold Coast. Blacks A Fake, the winner of eleven Group 1 and ten Group 2 and 3 feature events for Rasmussen, retired with earnings of $4,575,438 from 72 wins, 19 seconds and five thirds from 105 starts. New Zealand-bred pacers have dominated the Fremantle Cup in recent years and nine of the 12 runners in Friday night’s race were bred in New Zealand, the exceptions being the WA-bred Vultan Tin and Soho Tribeca and the Tasmania-bred Devendra. The past 12 Fremantle Cup winners were bred in New Zealand. Sandy Bay, bred in New South Wales, won the Cup in 2005 and the most recent WA-bred winners have been Golden Gears (2000) and Smooth Business (1994). WA businessman Rob Watson bred and owns Soho Tribeca, who faces a stern test from the outside (No. 9) on the front line. Watson paid $20,000 for Pixel Perfect as a yearling in Tasmania. Pixel Perfect did not race, but Soho Tribeca has shone on the racetrack, earning $588,609 from 18 wins and 21 placings from 48 starts. Kim Prentice, who drives Soho Tribeca, said that the five-year-old had worked superbly on Tuesday morning. He hinted strongly that he was unlikely to charge forward from the outside barrier with the stallion. “In saying that, it could still happen,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.” Coolup trainer Phil Costello bred Vultan Tin, who will start from barrier three with Chris Voak in the sulky. “I think he has the job ahead of him, but I’m hoping he will land in a good position in the running line, either one-out and one-back or one-out and two-back.” Champion WA reinsman Chris Lewis, fresh from four winners at Gloucester Park on Tuesday evening and a treble at Pinjarra on Monday afternoon, has won the Fremantle Cup six times but he faces an extremely difficult assignment with Motu Premier, who will start from the outside of the back line. Michael Brennan, who prepared Im Victorious for his Fremantle Cup victory in 2014, said that The Bucket List had a perfect draw at No. 2 on the back line. “I’m really happy with him and he should be able to lob three back on the pegs and do no work before being a sniper,” he said. “I’m pretty confident of a top-six finish.”     Ken Casellas

It is scary to think this is just the tip of the iceberg. The All Stars’ barn unleashes stars at two key Aussie meetings this weekend, but there are lost more to come over the next couple of months. Newly-crowned Perth Inter Dominion champ Lazarus headlines Aussie racing this weekend when he starts from gate five in the Group 1 Fremantle Cup at Gloucester Park on Friday night. He’s a $1.30 favourite on the Aussie TAB even though he has fast beginners Bettors Fire (gate one), Vultan Tin (three) and Chicago Bull (four) drawn inside him. Lazarus won’t lead unless either a Bettors Fire and/or Chicago Bull elects to surrender the front to him. Just for good measure, Lazarus’s exciting young stablemate, Ultimate Machete, is the $7 second favourite in the Fremantle Cup from gate two. Natalie Rasmussen will take the drive on Ultimate Machete before heading back to Sydney where she has key stable drives on Our Bare Knuckle and Partyon at Menangle on Saturday night. Our Bare Knuckle has gate four, but now moves into the three alley with emergency Lisa Lincoln already scratched from the $30,600 Group 3 Raith Memorial (1609m). It’s a fascinating race with so many different and strong formlines. The biggest name is last season’s glamour juvenile filly My Sweetchillyphilly, who is first-up since an aborted Breeders Crown campaign and drawn deep-ish in gate seven. Tim Butt’s Lady Chatto also resumes in the race from gate 10, while Jimmy Rattray’s Queensland Group 1 winner Arts Treasure has gate six and in-form Victorian raider Macey Jayde has the outside (gate 11). The Allstars’ classy mare Partyon slips back down in class big time to a metro maiden race (race two) under the NSW handicapping system. She’s better than her rivals, but will need to be from the outside draw (gate 11). The other must-watch Menangle race is the free-for-all (race five) where reigning Hunter Cup champ Bling It On steps outs again from the outside draw (gate 11). Adam Hamilton

Vincent may have a fair way to go to match champion stablemate Lazarus but you wouldn’t know it looking at the Auckland Cup market. The exceptional four-year-old pacer is set to start one of the shortest Auckland Trotting Cup favourites in history in the $250,000 classic at Alexandra Park early on Sunday night. Bookies are likely to have Vincent around the $1.40 mark to win the great race, matching what Lazarus was a few days out from the New Zealand Cup in November. Lazarus bolted away with that race and justified his record short price and has since gone on to win the Inter Dominion. But was already established as the best pacer in Australia before his second NZ Cup win, having already won the Cup the previous season by 10 lengths, the Victoria Cup in record time, two Flying Stakes and a NZ Free-For-All. Remarkably, Vincent is approaching Lazarus-type odds for Sunday at what will be only his second open class start. He bolted away with the first in the Franklin Cup at Alexandra Park two weeks ago and showed he had taken no harm from that when he jogged to victory in the $50,000 Four and Five-Year-Old Futurity at Cambridge on Sunday. With Mark Purdon losing his appeal against a 26-day suspension in Perth, co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen has been confirmed to partner Vincent while Tim Williams, who drove Vincent to win at Cambridge will be behind Heaven Rocks. Dexter Dunn will drive the third All Stars runner Titan Banner. While Vincent’s odds seem ridiculously short considering his lack of experience against top class older rivals, bookmakers probably don’t have much percentage to pay as they took a staggering $20,000 each way bet on him at $1.60 on Sunday and it is hard to make a case for any of his rivals to down the budding superstar. While the Auckland Cup contains New Zealand Cup runner-up Jacks Legend and the mad mammoth Heaven Rocks, it does lack Tiger Tara and Dream About Me from the NZ Cup, so Vincent’s rivals are not as strong as those Lazarus beat on November 14. While Vincent has an awfully long way to go to be compared with the open class version of Lazarus, their records are almost identical at the same stage of their careers: after 18 starts both had 15 wins with some luckless placed efforts.  Vincent’s record should be even better because the only time he has finished out of the money was when his sulky tyre was flattened by a rival in the Victoria Derby, a race he was a $1.10 favourite for. The two imposing stallions could be on the pathway to a thrilling clash in the Miracle Mile in two months after Vincent’s win at Cambridge on Sunday. That earned him an invite to the A$200,000 Chariots Of Fire at Menangle on February 10 and if he won that, or even placed, he should be invited to the Miracle Mile two weeks later, a race that at this stage Lazarus’s final major target for the season.  With barrier four on Sunday the Auckland Cup may look Vincent’s to lose but Titan Banner’s closing sectionals were similar to his stablemate in the Franklin Cup and as a good standing start horse drawn barrier two he looms at the logical danger. Another big winner in the draws for Sunday is Speeding Spur, who has drawn barrier two in the $100,000 National Trot.  He was surprisingly beaten on his merits by Kyvalley Blur at Cambridge on Sunday but should appreciate the 2700m mobile while Kyvalley Blur (5) and Temporale (6) have drawn wider.   The National Trot lost a key player yesterday with bold chestnut Bordeaux was withdrawn with his summer campaign over.  “He has banged a hind leg and I was battling to get him right and I’d rather do the right thing by the horse and take him home,” says trainer Philip Iggo.  “So he will have a break and be set for the Rowe Cup.” But the draws for the Sires’ Stakes Fillies Championship and the Sales Series Pace have added intrigue with big names like Chase Auckland, Bettor Joy and Dizzy Miss Lizzy drawing poorly. Michael Guerin

Impressive Auckland Reactor gelding Chase Auckland defeated another strong field of harness racing 3yo's tonight in the $50,000 Alabar Classic at Alexandra Park, and remains unbeaten with six wins from six starts. Trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Chase Auckland had to be good to win after getting attacked in front for most of the race by David Butcher and the Ray Green trained King Of Swing.  On the turn King Of Swing was beaten and the only danger to Chase Auckland was All U Need Is Faith who had trailed all the way. At the line Chase Auckland found plenty and managed to hold off his stablemate by half a head with another All Stars runner Spankem running into third. Driver Natalie Rasmussen said after the race. "Oh he is a very good horse and just seems to give a bit more every time I ask him". Chase Auckland ran the 2200m in a very fast 2-36.4 with a closing 800m in 56.7 and 400m in 27.9 seconds. The Alexandra Park track was lightning quick tonight with Vincent going close to breaking his own New Zealand record when winning fresh up in the $50,000 Lincoln Farms Franklin Cup. Vincent beat A G's Whitesocks by half a length and ran the 2700m stand in 3-19.7 with a last 800m in 55.6. Titian Banner ran third and remarkably his time of 3-18.8 was inside the record of 3-19.4. Earlier in the night Jo's Dream and Partyon deadheated in the $100,000 (Gr1) Rosslands Queen Of Hearts 4yo and older mares pace. The winners paced the 2200m mobile in 2-40.9 with a closing 800m in 56.3 seconds.   Chase Auckland winning his sixth race in a row.   Partyon and Jo's Dream deadheating tonight.   Vincent winning the Franklin Cup Harnesslink Media

Don't read too much into hotshot driver Natalie Rasmussen turning her back on Heaven Rocks for the $50,000 Lincoln Farms Franklin Cup at Alexandra Park tonight. The co-trainer says the enigmatic star pacer is still the one to beat, even though she has jumped off him to drive Vincent. The pair dominate betting on the 2700m standing start event as Alexandra Park's summer season goes up a notch with its first premier meeting of the season, while the track backs up with another meeting tomorrow night to cater for its huge Christmas bookings. Rasmussen and Mark Purdon train Vincent and Heaven Rocks but a driver reshuffle was forced after Purdon was suspended for 26 days on Inter Dominion night last Friday.   Purdon would have driven Vincent, last season's best three-year-old, in his comeback race but with him sidelined Rasmussen felt compelled to. "It is a tricky situation with Mark out because there is a lot of pressure driving a horse like Vincent fresh up and I don't think it is fair to put that pressure on somebody else," she explained. "He is ready to race and there to win but I think he is a false favourite and don't want him driven like a $2 chance because he probably isn't ready for that. "Of course he can win because he is a very good horse but I think Heaven Rocks is our better chance because he was so good last Friday and should be even fitter. "It is just a very tricky race for Vincent fresh up." Heaven Rocks will be partnered by Tim Williams, who admits he hasn't had great success on the nutcase pacer before. But he has been doing all the work with him in the north over the last two weeks. Add in Jack's Legend back on his home track, the improving AG's White Socks and Titan Banner, now back with Purdon-Rasmussen, and tonight's race will be a huge pointer to what to expect in the Auckland Cup on December 31. With Williams being in charge of the All Stars northern assault, he has been charged with getting Partyon's mind back on the job for tonight's group one $100,000 Rosslands Queen Of Hearts. The multiple group one winner looked lazy when a fresh up fourth last Friday in a race where Bonnie Joan was outstanding but there has been good early money to suggest that result can be reversed tonight. "She needed a bit of a sharpen up and she got that this week," said Williams. "I worked her in block blinds this week to get her mind on the job and she sprinted up the straight well with Vincent in her work. "She will race in sliding blinds on Friday and we expect her to improve a lot." One horse who won't need to improve is the stable rep in the $50,000 Alabar Classic in Chase Auckland. Owned by the race sponsors, the exciting three-year-old has barrier one and should remain unbeaten. The three-year-old fillies clash in the $85,000 Peter Breckon Memorial looks far more even but Bettor Joy deserves favouritism after a mammoth win last Friday while the main trot sees the return of Speeding Spur. Like Vincent in the Franklin Cup, Speeding Spur is good enough to win fresh up but he needs only one key rival getting an easy trip on the markers to be beaten. Michael Guerin

The team behind trotting’s forgotten hero Speeding Spur are embracing the pressure as the superstar returns to the track at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The six-year-old hasn’t raced since March and only four times in 21 months after two injuries sidelined him at crucial times.  The best of his age as a three-year-old, Speeding Spur was eventually replaced as our best trotter by Monbet, although with both having suffered plenty of setbacks they have only met three times in their open class careers. The anticipation for Speeding Spur’s return has been heightened as Monbet is injured again and possibly out for the season, making Speeding Spur almost certainly the besttrotter racing in Australasia.  Co-trainer and driver Josh Dickie says while that will have punters expecting a lot from the stallion, he and father John are simply happy to have him back.   “It has been hard watching the major trots and not have him there but it is not a bad time to come back as there are a lot of big races to still go this season,” says Dickie.  “And he is sound and happy and trotting well so that is all we can do at this stage.  “He won well at the workouts last Sunday and now it is time to go to the races and that is the first part of our job done.  “But after all the setbacks he has had we are going to enjoy racing him and let the results take care of themselves.”Speeding Spur has drawn the outside of the second line in the $50,000 Rosslands Lyell Creek Trot at Alexandra Park’s huge meeting on Friday night and while he could start favourite it is the usual case of punters beware with horses returning from a long spell.  “He beat Bordeaux, who has been one of the best trotters this season, at the workouts on Sunday so he is ready to go but race night against fully fit horses is a different story.  “So he can win but the tempo of the race and how much luck he has could decide where he finishes.” Safely through Friday, Speeding Spur has a smorgasbord of huge races in the north and in Victoria he would be an automatic favourite for because of Monbet’s injury and the decision not to bring NZ Cup week’s major trot winners Great Things Happen and Amaretto Sun north. Speeding Spur isn’t the only big name returning on Friday night with last season’s best three-year-old Vincent making his comeback in the Franklin Cup.  Co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen has chosen to drive him over Heaven Rocks, who will be partnered by Tim Williams, a decision certain to influence the bookie’s view of the market. Michael Guerin

Today the Oamaru harness racing club will again host the Brothers In Arms driving series. Jay and Sailesh Abernethy who dominated the series last year are back to defend their title in a five-race competition against five sets of brothers at the grass track meeting. Also competing in the series are local drivers Matthew and Brad Williamson, as well as Peter and Hamish Hunter, Dexter and John Dunn, Craig and Chris Thornley and Gerard and Leo O'Reilly. Last year the Abernethy brothers easily won the series, with Sailesh winning three races and Jay winning one. The likeable Abernethy brothers also won the series in 2014. ________________________________________________________________________________________ The Mark Purdon/Natalie Rasmussen trained Major Shard may have booked his ticket to Auckland for the major races in the next few months by winning last nights NRM Sires Stakes Silver for 3yo's. Natalie Rasmussen said on the All Stars Website, "we would have to consider for the Sales race in Auckland on his run tonight and probably he would go now" Last night Major Shard trailed for the last lap before zipping up the passing lane for driver Tim Williams and winning well by more than one length at the line. Tim said after the race, " Major Shard is very good when he is good. He worked to the front and when he got the gap he went thru it strongly." Major Shard paced the 1950m in a quick 1-54.7 mile rate with a closing 800m in a sizzling 54.4 seconds. Henry Hubert ran home strongly for second for driver John Dunn.   Major Shard winning last night.   Harnesslink Media

Last season's New Zealand Derby winner Vincent was in great form at yesterdays Ashburton workouts.  The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained 4yo was a dominant winner in a five horse race, which including Dom Domingo, Glenferrie Classic, Nek Time and All Stars stable-mate Party On. Driver Natalie Rasmussen settled the speedy son of Art Major back in the field until moving to the parked out position at the 900m. In the straight Vincent was simply too strong for the opposition winning comfortably without being pushed and beating stablemate Partyon by a half a neck at the line. Vincent paced the 2400m stand in 3-04.6 with a closing 800m in 55.0 and last 400m in 26.6 seconds. Natalie Rasmussen said later on the All Stars website, " Vincent was excellent. He will probably have one more hitout before going up on the second truck to Auckland, it just depends on where he is at."  "Partyon was great and heads north on Sunday on the first truck, she said." Vincent winning his workout today beating Partyon Harnesslink Media      

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          

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