Day At The Track

Wallis gets first Group 3

01:49 PM 04 Mar 2017 NZDT
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Waiuku trainer Michelle Wallis
Waiuku trainer Michelle Wallis
Shelley Caldwell photo

Michelle Wallis nailed her first Group Three victory at ‘The Park’ last night but don’t expect to see more of the Franklin reinswoman in the sulky.

Waiuku-based Wallis won the Group Three $25,000 Sims Metals Northern Breeders Stakes for mares behind the horse that she and her husband Bernie Hackett train on Karioitahi Beach – Princess Mackendon.

“I only drive her because she’s such an honest little mare. I think this is her limit thought. I couldn’t see her winning a Group One against some of the big guns, but she is very consistent and this is her career highlight,” Wallis said.

The 5-year-old Skyvalley mare had finished second three times and won once in her last four starts before tonight’s three quarter length and four length victory over Sunset Peak (David Butcher) and Majestic Ali (Maurice McKendry).

Princess Mackendon trotted the 2700m stand in 3:30.4 (mile rate 2:05.4) and home in 60.8 and 30.6.

Wallis was quick to point that her driving career would be limited.

“There’s too much pressure from owners and I’d rather let the guns do it,” a modest Wallis said.

The 40m handicap was a bridge too far for the $1.70 favourite, Idle Bones (Brent Mangos). After a quick 1:26.5 lead time he finished seventh of 10.

It was the 21st running of the Northern Breeders Stakes.

The Group Three $25,000 Lincoln Farms 'The Founders' Free-For-All was won by the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Heaven Rocks, who led for 1100m of the 1700m mobile event.

Bowling along fiercely in front thereafter the 4-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding ran his nine opponents off their feet.

Driver Rasmussen dubbed him a ‘nutter’ after his one-and-a-quarter length and half neck victory over stablemate More The Better (Mark Purdon) and The Orange Agent (Tony Herlihy MNZM).

“He’s a bit of a wild animal. A loose cannon. He’s a very nice pacer but doesn’t know a lot. he’s got a heap to learn yet,” Rasmussen said.

Heaven Rocks, who has been pulled up in both of his starts this campaign, went very wide around the home-straight bend the first time and then with momentum took the lead off eventual fourth place-getter, Christen Me.

He then bowled along in front pacing the 1700m in 1:59.3 (mile rate 1.53) and came home in 56.1 and 27.7.

It was Heaven Rock’s sixth win in 11 starts and he was the $4 second favourite.

Meanwhile, Speeding Spur returned to the winner’s circle for the 18th time following his last start second in the Group One $300,000 Great Southern Star in Victoria on February 4.

It was a well-time run by driver Josh Dickie who sat three-back on the outside and followed Lemond (Maurice McKendry) throughout. It was his eight win at Alexandra Park.

“I didn’t mind following Lemond because he’s a nice trotter and if I thought that if we had one go at them my horse would have the sprint to get over the top of them. He felt like the old Speeding Spur tonight,” Co-trainer and driver Dickie said.

The 5-year-old Pegasus Spur entire trotted the 2700m stand from his 45m handicap in a very respectable 3:26.9 (mile rate 2:03.3) and came home in 59 and 28.6.

He had half a neck and a nose to spare over Temporale (Tony Herlihy MNZM) and Lemond.

Speeding Spur is also trained by Dickie’s father John at Clevedon and is owned by All Black captain Kieran Read; former All Blacks Andy Hewitt and Dave Hewett; Commonwealth Games gold medalist Dick Tayler; and the Woodlands Partnership Syndicate.

He was bred by Woodlands Stud. Speeding Spur’s stake earnings now rest at $694,291.

The Barry Purdon trained and driven Mach Shard made it two wins from three starts (second in the other) in the seventh heat of the $25,000 Breckon Farms Pace for 2-year-old colts and geldings.

The Mach Three and Sly Shard colt dug deep to hold out the Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen trained duo of Ashley Locaz (Rasmussen) and Spankem (Purdon) by a nose and a length.

Mach Shard paced the 1700m mobile in 2:04.67 (mile rate 1.58 even) and came home in 57.9 and 27.9.

But the performance of the night came in the last event when the Todd Macfarlane trained and driven Heavyweight Hero set a national record for 3-year-old trotters.

His time of 2:49.8 was 1.4 seconds quicker than Rock Tonight's New Zealand record, also set at Alexandra Park in March 2015.

Heavyweight Hero dealt to his up to R66 opposition by four-and-a-quarter lengths.The Muscles Yankee gelding’s mile rate was 2:04.1 and he came home in 57.8 and 28.8.

It was Heavyweight Hero's second win in nine starts and he's also placed four times. The victory took his stake earnings past $50,000 for Macfarlane, Aaron Lowe and their band of owners.

Duane Ranger

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