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The All Stars stable of Natalie Rasmussen and Mark Purdon knows no boundaries. Their pursuit of excellence continues to defy belief, constantly rewriting the pages of history, producing brilliant talent season after season and across all age groups. The Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final is a time honoured feature that tugs at the heartstrings of both Rasmussen and Purdon. After all, Rasmussen and her mighty champion Blacks A Fake won the event a record four times while Purdon has lifted the trophy on six occasions – 3 pacers and 3 trotters. This will be Rasmussen’s 7th Inter Dominion Grand Final, her previous six coming with Blacks A Fake – 4 wins and 2 seconds. In fact, the last time the Pacing Grand Final was staged in Melbourne (2008 - Moonee Valley), it was Rasmussen and ‘Blackie’ that proved victorious. And now they’re chasing another slice of history this weekend. The All Stars have qualified two runners for the Gr.1 $500,000 TAB Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final, the top two point scorers following the three rounds of heats over the past week. Cruz Bromac and Spankem are the two combatants, both striving to provide the stable their third straight Inter Dominion hero. Yet all with different horses after Smolda scored in 2016 while Lazarus took honours last year. And here’s the magic, no stable has won the Inter Dominion three times and with a different champion each time. The famous stables of Bob and Vin Knight fell short back in 1990 after both Our Maestro and Jane Ellen scored in the previous. It was Thorate who scored at Globe Derby while the Knight trained Jane Ellen and Rockleigh Victory were both unplaced and therefore denied the Victorian stable a three peat. Obviously Rockleigh Victory would’ve created history if successful - three different winners in three consecutive years. But now the All Stars can claim this record if either Cruz Bromac or Spankem deliver. And both have undeniable chances, Spankem will start from gate five with Purdon driving after Rasmussen elected to stick solid with Cruz Bromac despite drawing gate nine. Purdon is taking his 9th Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final drive; he has won three finals previously with Mark Hanover, Smolda and Lazarus while he has won 3 Trotting Finals with Pride Of Petite and I Can Doosit (twice). Cruz Bromac is the only runner during the series to win all three qualifying heats. With the series undertaking several changes throughout recent years, the last pacer to clean sweep a series (3 heats & Final) was the champion performer Im Themightyquinn back in 2012 at Gloucester Park in Perth while Elsu also achieved the feat in 2005 at Alexandra Park, Auckland. So, can Cruz Bromac and Rasmussen achieve the sweep? Will it be his stablemate, rising star Spankem? The professional four-year-old has thrived during the series winning two of his three heats and looks like he’ll relish the 2760m distance. Another New Zealand four-year-old I’m Pats Delight is also relishing the hard grind of the series and looms as a serious player for a formidable combination in Cran Dalgety and Gavin Lang. Between them, they have won more features than they care to remember. However, the Inter Dominion Pacing Grand Final trophy has proven elusive for both future Hall of Famers but can they etch their names into the record books this weekend? This will be Lang’s 10th Inter Dominion Grand Final drive and second for Dalgety after partnering London Legend back in 2006. I’m Pats Delight will start from gate three. Perth powerhouse Greg and Skye Bond are represented by the ideally drawn Galactic Star (gate one) and the Bettors Delight gelding has been outstanding throughout the series to date with top three finishes in each of his three heats. Last year, Galactic Star finished 5th behind Lazarus. In 2012, the Bond’s also finished 5th with Can Return Fire behind Im Themightyquinn. Ryan Warwick takes his third Inter Dominion Grand Final drive when he reunites with Galactic Star. Interestingly, the only proven Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit winner in the field this year is the tough Sydney trained millionaire Tiger Tara. And his maiden Grand Circuit victory came recently when successful in the Victoria Cup here at TABCORP Park, Melton when leading throughout. Placed third last year behind Lazarus and Chicago Bull, the Kevin Pizzuto trained and Todd McCarthy driven will need to overcome gate seven, the outside of the front-line. McCarthy is taking his 4th Inter Dominion Grand Final drive. The Bettors Delight entire was placed in all three heats including his victory last weekend at Cranbourne. Local star San Carlo lines up again following his impressive efforts last year in Perth where he won a heat but in the final, he finished 9th behind Lazarus after drawing poorly. Although winless during the heats and starting from gate eight, the inside of the second-line, San Carlo still rates as a winning hope. Prepared by Steve O’Donoghue and handled by Bec Bartley, the Mach Three gelding will carry plenty of local support. Another local which will have plenty cheering is the David Aiken trained and Kima Frenning driven up and comer Wrappers Delight. A winner in the sprint heat at Ballarat on night two, the Bettors Delight gelding needs to overcome gate 11. This opportunity provides Frenning with her first Inter Dominion Grand Final drive. One of the surprise packets of the series is the Mattie Craven trained and driven Can’t Refuse, responsible for some eye-catching efforts throughout the heats. The Bettors Delight gelding will start from gate two. Like Frenning, this is Craven’s first Inter Dominion Grand Final drive. Another pacer that has thrived throughout the series is the Bathurst prepared Our Uncle Sam for father/son combination of Chris and Anthony Frisby. Blessed with sharp speed and great determination, the Sportswriter gelding is looking at bringing another Inter Dominion trophy back to the famous region. Memories of Honda Grattan and Smooth Satin come flooding back when assessing the chances of Our Uncle Sam. The five-year-old will start from gate 10 and this is Anthony’s first Inter Dominion Grand Final drive. There’s no doubt rejuvenated pacer Maximan will have the biggest cheer squad, the one-time claimer has thrived under the care of Shane and Lauren Tritton. It will be their 3rd Inter Dominion finalist. Boasting owners from all parts of the country, the veteran performer will start from gate six. And Craig Cross is represented by two runners, just like the All Stars, speedy pacer Mach Doro starts from gate four while Cash N Flow is looking to overcome gate 13, the outside of the second-line. Luke McCarthy partners Mach Doro while John Caldow takes the drive behind Cash N Flow, McCarthy is lining up for his 7th Inter Dominion Grand Final drive while Caldow is taking his maiden drive in a Pacing Grand Final. McCarthy has finished third four times previously but is still chasing his maiden victory. Interestingly, Cash N Flow is a former member of the All Stars operation before joining Cross earlier this year. Owner Dominic Martello races both Wrappers Delight and Mach Doro. Audi Hare (gate 12) is listed as the emergency runner. Chris Barsby

As if there was not enough excitement in the camp more is coming as Chase Auckland readies for a brief northern campaign and then an assault on the Chariots of Fire when he is likely to clash with Spankem all going well. Chase Auckland was the pre-eminent three year old last season before going amiss in the latter part and he has had a patient buildup through the spring toward an Australian campaign. “He is ready to go to the trials now and after that he would head north” Natalie said “He’s doing great. We would probably give him a race at Cambridge even though it is not a qualifying race for the Chariots now and then he would head over for those leadup races for that. “Spankem will stay over here for the Bonanza ($A100,000 January 26) and then go on to Chariots trail. Chase Auckland and will probably go straight to Sydney. Chase Auckland won eight of his nine starts at three and ran second to stablemate Sicario in the other earning nearly $400,000 for his Alabar Farms Syndicate who are naturally his greatest fans. He had a minor hiccup in the spring which crossed out the NZ Cup meeting and the Auckland Cup. That could be a blessing in disguise as he faces a busy summer and autumn all going well. He is likely to trial next Tuesday at Rangiora. Ultimate Machete trialled on Wednesday and won well. A decision has yet to be made on whether he will trial again before heading north. Courtesy of All Stars Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

Matt Bowden is more than happy with how things are going with Inter Dominion hopefuls Spankem and Cruz Bromac as they shape up for the first heats on Saturday. The team arrived in Sydney last Friday and travelled by road to Melbourne on Saturday. “No complaints . Possibly Spankem has done a little better but not enough for anyone to be concerned about. Cruz is going good too” Poi said “Natalie arrives over by Thursday and I will be heading off to Auckland then to look after the team there. They will be based at Barry’s this year” “Natalie will be staying there for the campaign. We are based just out of Melbourne where Blacks a Fake used to stay when he went to Melbourne and it is nice and quiet here” “Spankem has never turned a hair and is a great little traveller. I will be surprised if he doesn’t win a heat of the series at least. Cruz is a hot favourite in his heat and will also be ready for a big run. I am happy with them both” Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

The Owners representative took a quick visit to All Stars Stable on Wednesday to see how Chase Auckland was progressing towards his return to harness racing and the news is very positive.  “We are looking at taking him to a trial in 3 or 4 weeks and then aim at a possible race at Cambridge followed by a suitable race in Auckland perhaps on Christmas Eve,” Mark Purdon said. He says "I do not think he would be ready for such a tough and demanding race like the Auckland Cup at this stage instead Id rather race him as much as possible against his own age group". This could involve such races as the $50,000 Futurity Stakes at Cambridge on January 24, and in Australia, the $50,000 Hondo Grattan Stakes on February 2, the $50,000 Paleface Adios Sprint on February 9 with the main one being the $200,000 Chariots of Fire on February 16 – all at Tabcorp Park in NSW. It would then be back to New Zealand for such possible races as the $50,000 Superstars Champs at Addington on March 29, the $100,000 Taylor Mile on April 26, the $100,000 NZ Messenger (both at Auckland) and $150,000 Harness Jewels at Addington. At the time of taking his New Zealand record in The 3YR Sires Stakes Final in 2017, Chase Auckland recorded the fastest ever time for not only three-year-olds but for all-comers rating a 1:52.2 mile rate over the 1950 metres. He also holds a second record at Auckland over 2700 metres in The Great Northern Derby rating 3:16.8 for the distance. This son of Auckland Reactor has had just the nine starts for eight wins and a second to date with $392,329 in the bank. His return to racing will be eagerly watched and waited for by his large numbers of Owners and Fans across the Country. The photos taken and shown here are spectacular to say the least. Chase Auckland - Group 1 New Zealand Sires Stakes Final 2017 Chase Auckland - Woodlands Great Northern Derby 2018 Harnesslink Media

As far as elite drivers go, the name of Natalie Rasmussen is clearly in the conversation. The trailblazing girl from Queensland can drive.....and she can drive fast. But it’s the soft hands and gentle approach that puts her in rare air. Her collection of big race trophies includes Inter Dominions, Miracle Mile, Queensland Pacing Championships and Auckland, Victoria and Hunter Cups. Rasmussen has led the way for female drivers by becoming the first to win the Inter Dominion, Queensland Pacing Championship plus the Auckland, Victoria and Winter Cups. All of the above mentioned are Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit events, the best of the best. And the latest trophy to the mantelpiece, the Gr.1 $800,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup, another Grand Circuit feature. Rasmussen produced another polished display to land the 3200m stand start feature, getting race favourite Thefixer away safely before taking the early lead from Star Galleria and then handing over to stablemate Dream About Me. It was typical of her normal poise and guile in big pressure events. The victory puts her alongside fellow Australian Kerryn Manning as the only female winners of the famed feature. Rasmussen also co-trains the winner in partnership with Mark Purdon. After a long delay following a botched attempt the first time around with the starting strand becoming entangled with Eamon Maguire, runners were called back and forced to stand to attention again. But the delay had no effect on Rasmussen or Thefixer with a safe beginning made and landing in a dangerous position while key rivals navigated some early traffic and jostled for positions. Sitting patiently in the trail, Thefixer followed Dream About Me and saved much needed energy, the lead time was covered in 1:57.8. Sole Aussie raider Tiger Tara soon made his move and circled three-wide before parking outside Dream About Me, he maintained strong pressure onwards. Approaching the home turn, Dream About Me and Tiger Tara sprinted as strong as they could and actually had Thefixer losing their backs but Rasmussen went to work and the nuggety little stayer knuckled down and picked up via the passing lane to defeat a gallant Tiger Tara with Dream About Me filling third place. The winning margin was a head with a half-length back to third. The winning time was 3:53.9 - the mile rate was 1:57.6. “I can retire happily now that I’ve finally won this race,” Rasmussen declared. “That was so so close but we got there, he’s been a project horse of mine for some time and he’s such a great little stayer, we got a great run but I was worried when the sprint went on but he fought all the way to the finish and he was brave. It wasn’t an ideal campaign with the hoof abscess but things worked out well.” It was her 7th drive in the New Zealand Cup. Her victories on New Zealand soil now tally 237 from 612 drives while amassing more than $7.9 million. The All Stars stable has now won 4 of the past 5 editions. And the efforts of super sire Bettors Delight can’t go unnoticed, his 5th straight winner of the Cup plus a trifecta! Thefixer is by Bettors Delight from the Christian Cullen mare Tosti Girl and came at a cost of $47,000 at the 2015 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka. The next leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit is the Inter Dominion in Melbourne on December 15.   Chris Barsby

It was a tough decision but we have pulled Ultimate Machete out of the New Zealand Cup next Tuesday. We still have hope we can make it to the Free for All with him on the Friday at this stage. We worked him this morning and he was still a bit tender. Our veterinarian (Dr Lindsay Colwell) thinks there is a good chance that it probably isn’t anything serious but we are up against time wise and decided to act now so that everyone knows where they stand. It is bad luck but he wasn’t quite himself last Friday and I have been concerned about him since. As I said it might just be a bruise coming out but he is uncomfortable and you can’t have any setbacks at this stage of a Cup preparation. Its been a long road back for him so it is very disappointing for us and the connections but at least at this stage we still have a horse. The way things were he was only going to run once next week so hopefully that will still be the case !   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables   http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/home/

No final decision has been made but if it was a sentimental decision you could not help thinking it would be Thefixer. Not that it would need to be a sentimental decision. He just might be the best chance. Eight wins from 14 starts is not to be sneezed at in any company. And in his first start since mid-September you would expect even more improvement from this run his last before the Cup. Instead he gave them all a chance to beat him and held them at bay. Rated well four back on the outer by Natalie, Thefixer came into the race quickly went clear and fought off all challenges the most impressive of who was Dream About Me who had Tim and Paul and Mary Kenny all smiles with her super effort. Natalie’s affection for Thefixer is never hidden. “Just about the perfect racehorse. Tries so hard has the manners and the pace to get where you want him to be and just does everything you ask of him” she said “I mean he hadn’t raced for so long compared to most here and you would hardly know” Mark was not so happy about Ultimate Machete “A pass mark, just. He will have to be sharper to win the Cup I was hoping for better really”   Thefixer winning at Addington last night   Courtesy of All Stars Racing stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

Patience brings its own rewards and that was certainly the case for the connections of Spankem when he triumphed with a masterly Tim Williams drive to give All Stars a win on the 50th anniversary of the Purdon family’s first runner in the Kaikoura Cup. Phil and Glenys Kennard, Ken and Karen Breckon, Jim and Ann Gibbs and Gary and Kerre Woodham learned patience early with the well-bred Spankem. He posted four smart placed performances as a two year old before a winning turn but then he got his due reward winning the Sires Stakes Final after a great placed run from outside the second row in the PGG Wrightson Sales Pace. Then he had to settle for third in a tight finish behind stablemates Ashley Locaz and The Devil’s Own in the Harness Jewels. The same thing happened to him as a three year old in the rich Sales Pace running third to Chase Auckland and All U Need is Faith and after a win in a heat of the Victoria Derby but a fourth in the final Mark and Natalie specified a lengthy spell to regain his fire and fitness after a busy younger campaign. He seems to have come back better than ever and after his bold run at Ashburton it seemed only a matter of time before he took out a feature race. That was up to Tim who seized the lead off Natalie and Eamon Maguire and dictated the terms. The time for the race was the slowest since Natalie drove Arden Rooney to victory four years ago and over three seconds slower than Lazarus posted with his easy win last year. But Tim sprinted them home in 55.6 and 26.4 and that gave nothing else, including Eamon Maguire, a chance of overhauling him on the flat- cambered Kaikoura track. It was the Kennard’s third win in the race in five years, Fly Like an Eagle having won in 2013 but a first for his partners. Jim Gibbs, busy celebrating a birthday could not be there but he is sure to be on hand for Spankem’s next run in the Junior Free for All on New Zealand Cup day. All Stars have now won four of the last six Kaikoura Cups and All Stars have won nine in all. Eamon Maguire fought on and Cruz Bromac lost no New Zealand Cup caste on his sectionals after appearing to have not all favours at the start.   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com

The confused puzzle that is the New Zealand Trotting Cup still has plenty of missing pieces after Eamon Maguire's win in the Flying Stakes at Ashburton yesterday. The Harness Jewels winner confirmed what most punters already suspected, that with his manner and speed he'll be a factor in the $800,000 classic at Addington on November 13. He stepped quickly to the lead then trailed stablemate Dream About Me and the pair surged clear of their rivals as leaders so often do at Ashburton, with Eamon Maguire just having too much sharp speed for the older mare. Alta Orlando was a huge third after starting from the unruly ahead of Star Galleria, who ran on well for fourth after a brief gallop at the start, and then the expensive failure Ultimate Machete. He galloped wildly early and settled last, giving himself and punters no chance. The Cup favourite made strong ground for fifth but his manners are making him a hard horse to back with confidence. In three starts this season he has yet to race a place. Eamon Maguire is good enough to win the Cup but 3200m may not be his ideal trip, Dream About Me looks vulnerable to speedsters divebombing her and Alta Orlando is basically off a handicap in the great race because he is unruly. Star Galleria looks to be tracking in the right direction, then after Ultimate Machete it is hard to make a case for any of the other beaten brigade yesterday winning the Cup. Aussie raider Chicago Bull is likely to race at Alexandra Park on Friday against last season's Cup runner-up Jacks Legend but with a small field likely it will be interesting to see what value that race has as a form guide. The other Aussie challenger, Tiger Tara, was impressive winning at Menangle on Saturday night and with so few weak points edges his way closer to Cup favouritism. Add in the likes of Thefixer, who has had a slight setback, and last week's Methven Cup winner Cruz Bromac and the Cup has a lot more winning chances that we are used to. As efficient at Eamon Maguire was yesterday the performance of the day was undoubtedly comeback trotter Marcoola in the Flying Mile. He equalled the national all-comers mile record with a 1:54.5 grinding effort over the top of Great Things Happen, who looked home at the 200m mark after leading. Marcoola looks bigger and stronger after his break, taking pole position for the open class trotters. Michael Guerin

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

While most of the class horses at All Stars are working up a storm over 2000,2400 or 3200m on the main tracks on an average Saturday morning and others are pounding up and down the straight track posting ever faster quarters, Saturday found NZ Cup favourite Ultimate Machete kept to walking pace -and he didn't mind it a bit! "Mate" pulled a Finn Tack Pressure Sulky (weight around 90kg ) with Matt Bowden the driver (maybe a bit more than 90kg) for 40 minutes of walking. Not that testing you may be thinking. But in front of him in the cart is Matt's secret weapon. It's a pressure gauge which allows him to adjust the resistance Mate gets when pulling from around 50 lbs ft to  up to 200 lbs. For all concerned it is a bit of a learning curve. "I am really doing what they do in the States where I had a bit to do with them." "Poi" says. "They varied the resistance pressure from very little to periods with heavy pressure. You can feel the change in the way the horse is moving. When it gets up near 200 they are working pretty hard. Its trial and error and we just have to see what the effects are but it is also fairly straightforward in its use" Matt simply adjusts the pressure from the cart with a big gauge right in front of  him. The carts, heavy jog type sulkies when the brakes are off, have been used at All Stars for jogging sessions but the major difference is the resistance technology which is their special appeal.  "They were developed in Europe-Sweden I think-but they get a lot of use in America" Matt notes. "The horses  get a lot of good strong exercise  but without pressure on the legs" Like most things with horses  the  idea of building a horse's stamina and condition without putting pressure on his limbs  has been with us since the days of draught horses and farm implements. In the 1940's Leo Berkett, then based near Nelson, prepared horses for the NZ Cup by using them in a plough (as a group) aiming for the same effect as the pressure carts-but a lot more trouble and time and without the aid of modern technology. They Finn Tack can also be a valuable aid with highly strung animals working in a more relaxed environment. Mark says they have used the cart quite extensively while working out its optimum use for the stable. "it's a proven system and is another aid that can be used without too much trouble. It can also be used as a heavy jogger when the system is turned off and it is useful for that as well"    Ultimate Machete is not a difficult horse but he can be "playful" at times and demands respect from his handlers.  Strolling around All Stars on Saturday, even if more than "pulling his weight" he was as happy as a sandboy . That in itself tells a story.      Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

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 pacing mare Dream About Me has claimed victory in a nail-biting finish to the (Gr 3) Hannon Memorial at Oamaru yesterday. The All Stars trained Dream About Me who had been winless for the previous year and a half, got up to win the time honored event by a head at the line from the leader A G's Whitesocks, who fought gamely when headed. Captain Dolmio rushed home late for third a further head away in a thrilling three way finish. The 6yo Bettor's Delight mare ran the 2600m from a stand in 3-14.7 with a final 800m in 56.1 and a closing 400m in 27.3 seconds. Tim Williams who drove Dream About Me thought the mare was coming back to her best before the race. "She has been working well and at her best she would be too good for this field," he said confidently. Those were prophetic words from Williams who had a good day in the sulky. He also won two other races on the program, both trotters and both for trainers Craig and Aimee Edmonds. One of those was She Aint No Angel who finally got her act together after breaking at her previous few starts and also at the trials. The 5yo Love You mare trotted faultlessly and was way too good winning untouched by more than two lengths from a fast finishing Eden Creek. The other winner for Williams was Muscles Galore who also stepped up and beat a good field of trotters for the rating 60 and faster horses. Aided by a superb drive from Williams, Muscles Galore was buried back on the fence early but weaved through the traffic at the 600m before zooming up the inside in the straight to win easily. Hey Yo and Jack Harrington were second and Alderbeck caught the eye whistling home late from near last on the turn for driver Brad Williamson. TAB bookmakers reacted to the win of Dream About Me in the Hannon by dropping her price into $10 on the fixed odds futures market for the New Zealand Cup.   Harnesslink Media

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

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