Day At The Track

All Stars chasing another Auckland Cup

05:29 PM 28 Dec 2016 NZDT
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Australasian Grand Circuit
Australasian Grand Circuit

The harness racing action in the 2016/17 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit heads back to New Zealand this weekend.

And the combination of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen are looking to maintain their form after taking the opening two legs, the New Zealand Cup romp of Lazarus and the never say die performance of warrior like pacer Smolda in the Inter Dominion in Perth.

The third leg of the series is the Gr.1 $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup at Alexandra Park, a 2700m stand start feature which has attracted a field of 11 high quality pacers.

Last year, there were two editions of the Auckland Cup; a 2700m mobile start event in March won by Christen Me followed by a 3200m stand start edition in December which was taken out by Have Faith In Me.

In recent times, the race has fluctuated from stand to mobile starts while the distance has also flipped between 2700m to 3200m.

The one constant, great horses win the Auckland Cup!

First staged in 1890 when Commodore took the spoils, other great names include the likes of Man O’War, Gold Jacket, Indianapolis, Captain Sandy, Caduceus, Cardigan Bay, Lordship, Robin Dundee, Stella Frost and Young Quinn among others.

Modern day heroes include Delightful Lady, Gammalite, Armalight, Master Mood, Luxury Liner, Christopher Vance, Master Musician, Chokin, Christian Cullen, Holmes DG, Flashing Red, Elsu, Auckland Reactor, Monkey King, Themightyquinn and Terror To Love.

And the Purdon name is synonymous with the great race.

Between Roy and his sons Barry and Mark, the Purdon family has won 11 Auckland Cups.

That tally could expand this year with Barry represented by three runners while the Mark Purdon/Rasmussen partnership also has three runners.

Hug The Wind, Arden’s Choice and The Faithful all step out for Barry while Titan Banner, Dream About Me and Chase The Dream represent the All Stars stable.

Bookies have little separating both Titan Banner and Dream About Me for favouritism.

All three All Stars pacers are racing in sublime form and all boast feature race victories at their most recent starts.

Victory for Titan Banner will see him shoot to the top of the Grand Circuit leaderboard following his third placing behind Lazarus and Tiger Tara in the New Zealand Cup last month.

The Cran Dalgety trained Christen Me is aiming for his second Cup success and boasts solid form including his last start second behind Titan Banner in the Franklin Cup.

Proven Alexandra Park feature race winner Tiger Tara is aiming for his next feature and his recent form gives him an excellent chance, a victory will see him rocket to the top of the Grand Circuit leaderboard following his second placing in the New Zealand Cup behind Lazarus in November.

Fellow Christchurch trained pacer Little Rascal is looking to provide an upset and give his trainer Robert Dunn his third Auckland Cup trophy.

Local stars Hughie Green and No Doctor Needed are chasing their biggest victory of their careers and connections have provided them with every opportunity.

Eight times Cup winning driver Tony Herlihy will partner Hughie Green while dual Cup winning driver Ricky May has been engaged for No Doctor Needed.

The Auckland Cup is scheduled as race 9 and is listed to start at 7.31pm local time.

by Chris Barsby

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