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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/

Harness racing driver Natalie Rasmussen capped off an amazing week by reining Cruz Bromac to an easy front running victory in yesterdays $184,000 Woodlands New Zealand Pacing Free For All at Addington Raceway.  After an unlucky run in Tuesday's New Zealand Trotting Cup, Cruz Bromac relished the shorter 1980m distance of yesterday's race and the son of Falcon Seelster blasted to the lead shortly after the mobile barrier arms folded. From there the race turned into a procession. With main rival and TAB favourite Tiger Tara caught three wide early and then parked, Cruz Bromac never really eased the pace and won easing down in a super quick 2-18.5 for the 1980m mobile. That equated to a mile rate of 1-52.5 with the last 800m cut out in 55.6 and the closing 400m run in 27.0 seconds. Stable mate of the winner Turn It Up ran on from three deep on the fence to grab second off the trailing Jack's Legend who battled on well for third. Tiger Tara wilted to last after finding his early efforts out wide too big a hurdle to overcome. Natalie Rasmussen really burned early on Cruz Bromac and thought he might be found wanting at the finish, "I really maxed him out to get across and sometimes they are found wanting when you do that, but he really tried hard down the straight.He was getting tired but he really gave it his all. "Since he joined us he has really impressed us, each run he has been really solid and good. "Mark and I will sit down next week and work out where we go, but I would say more than likely Inter Dominions first and then go from there," she said. The win by Cruz Bromac gave Natalie her third Group one success for the week after also winning the NZ Cup with Thefixer and the Sires Stakes Final with Ultimate Sniper on Tuesday.   Harnesslink Media

New Zealand Cup hero Thefixer is staying home — not just from the Inter Dominions in Australia but from Addington on Friday too. Trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen were expected to decide on Wednesday between the Inter Dominion series which begins in Victoria on December 1 and starting Tuesday’s NZ Cup winner in the NZ Free-For-All at Addington on Friday. In the end, they decided on neither. “He was a tired horse, as you might expect, after the Cup and the best thing for him now is an easy time,” said Purdon. “So we will let him miss the free-for-all and while we thought about the Inters I don’t think he needs to be part of that series just yet. “So he will stay here, get ready for the Auckland Cup (December 31) and if we decided to go to Aussie later it will be more likely to target a one off race, like a Hunter Cup.” A similar northern programme also beckons stablemate Dream About Me, who finished third in the Cup and will miss both Friday and the Inter Dominion to be aimed at the Queen of Hearts at Alexandra Park on December 14 and then the Auckland Cup, which she won two years ago. “If she wins the Queen of Hearts it has the bonus of qualifying her for the Ladyship Mile in Sydney later in the summer,” explains Purdon. “I watched the Cup video again and saw just how hard she tried on Tuesday. She went great but I don’t want to back her up.” The All Stars, who won a remarkable eight races from nine they contested on Tuesday, are still likely to have Inter Dominion runners headed by Cruz Bromac with others like Spankem and All U Need Is Faith also possible chances. But while impressive intermediate grade pacer Turn It Up has been thrown into the big time in the $200,000 Free-For-All on Friday he is a very unlikely Inter Dominion contender. Cup runner-up Tiger Tara has again been savaged by the draw for the free-for-all, drawing the outside of the gate at barrier nine while the big winner was Jack’s Legend with barrier one. Tuesday’s group one trot hero Speeding Spur has secured his second perfect draw of the week in the $300,000 Dominion, New Zealand’s richest trot in which he will start from barrier four. That is made even more fortuitous by the fact most of the other pre-draw favourites, Marcoola, Great Things Happen, Kyvalley Blur and Temporale, have drawn the second line, suggesting they will all be giving Speeding Spur a start. Michael Guerin

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

The New Zealand Trotting Cup doesn’t cut in half. And Thefixer and Tiger Tara won’t receive the same prize money for the bravery at Addington yesterday. But while only the former will have his name etched on the most famous trophy in New Zealand racing, the latter shared the glory in a $800,000 thriller. Thefixer at just his 16th start held off the Australian iron horse in a pulsating finish, one that confirmed no matter how many stars are missing the New Zealand Trotting Cup is that rare equine contest that always produces a fairytale. But this fairytale has two heroes. Thefixer overcame soreness just six weeks ago which threatened to derail his Cup campaign and then recorded the second fastest time in the history of the great race, only his former stablemate Lazarus having gone faster two years ago. Lazarus was all muscle and flash, the bully who taunted his Cup rivals with an arrogant 10-length win. But this time trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen had to earn their Cup, cajoling Thefixer back to his best because only his best would do. After a dreaded false start he got the second attempt right then led and trailed Dream About Me. From there it was his race to lose but lose it he almost did. Because while Thefixer was enjoying the perfect run for driver Rasmussen, Tiger Tara came three wide to sit parked and break the seemingly unbreakable Dream About Me in front. At the 200m mark he looked set to produce one of the gutsiest Cup wins in history only for Thefixer to rally, an equine Rocky Balboa defying the bigger, strong Apollo Creed. Every centremetre Rasmussen saved on the marker pegs made the difference but the runner up was so magnificent it almost felt like their were two Cup winners. The magnificence of Tiger Tara in defeat doesn’t detract from what the winner achieved though. This was, after all, just his 16th start and Thefixer hadn’t come through the glamour of age group races and has earned his stripes in the big time the old fashioned way. Being so untapped and new his options are numerous, with Purdon and Rasmussen to sit down today and decide whether he heads to the Inter Dominion in Victoria starting December 1, a decision which will impact on whether he starts in the NZ Free-For-All this Friday. “He is a very brave horse because he was out on his feet at the top of the straight but he just kept coming,” said Rasmussen, who joins Kerryn Manning as only the second female driver to win the Cup. One horse certain to be in both the Free-For-All and at the Inter Dominion is Tiger Tara, who greatness isn’t in his raw ability but in the organ beating under his rib cage. He quite simply covered lengths more than the other placegetters and produced a run that would have won more than 100 of the NZ Cups run since the first in 1904. “He was great. There really isn’t a lot more he could have done,” said driver Todd McCarthy. “I thought I had them once I got past Dream About Me but the other little horse just wouldn’t go away.” On a day where the Purdon-Rasmussen team won a scarcely believable eight out of the nine races they contested they may have unearthed their next champion in Ultimate Sniper in the $170,000 Sires’ Stakes. He came from the second line to sit parked and record a searing time to remain unbeaten after four starts, suggesting if he can hold together he could even be the best horse in the all-conquering stable in 12 or 18 months. On any normal day his supersonic effort would have earned him skiting rights for the meeting. But not yesterday. Yesterday he has to share that with Cup winner. And the Cup runner-up. Michael Guerin

Mark Purdon has taken his place alongside two other greats of harness racing by training the winner of his sixth New Zealand Trotting Cup today with Thefixer. Today's win by Thefixer takes Purdon's number of training wins in the race to six which equals the six wins trainers James Bryce and Cecil Devine have also had in the country’s biggest harness race. Natalie Rasmussen drove a perfect race to win her first New Zealand Cup as a driver giving her the race she always wanted to win. "New Zealand is home now. To come here and win this race, it means everything. I could happily retire now," she joked. She paid tribute to Mark Purdon on trackside after the race. "Mark and I are just soulmates, we run our business together, we work together, we live together, we are best friends. I am really lucky to have him in our life. He's just a wonderful, wonderful horseman and I am just really proud of our whole team, right from the top all the way through." Thefixer trailed for the majority of the race and just when it looked like the Australian visitor Tiger Tara was in for a hard fought win, Thefixer poked up the passing lane for a narrow head victory. Thefixer ran the 3200m stand in 3-53.9 which was only 0.8 of a second outside the race record set by the mighty Lazarus in 2016. The last 800m was run in 55.6 seconds. Tiger Tara fought gamely for second after working hard during the running and race leader Dream About Me battled on to hold down third. Cruz Bromac was a touch unlucky getting clear air late and running home well into fourth. All Stars Stables had a day to remember winning 8 of the nine races they contested which surely must be some sort of record in itself.   Harnesslink Media    

Harness racing has a new superstar and his name is Ultimate Sniper.  On a perfect Canterbury day the showy looking Bettor's Delight colt won a grinding finish in the the 3yo $170,000 Sires Stakes Final at Addington Raceway. Trained by the all conquering All Stars Stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Ultimate Sniper had to sit parked on a hot pace but found extra reserves in the home straight to wear down his stablemate Jesse Duke who trailed and battled well to be only three-quarters of a length away at the line.  Heisenberg ran third after setting a hot pace in front and Mighty Flying Art ran home well for fourth. Ultimate Sniper ran the 1980m mobile in a lightning time of 2-19.0 for the 1980m mobile, a mile rate of 1-52.9 with the last 800m cut out in a super quick 54.6 and 400m in 28 seconds. Driver Natalie Rasmussen gave a lot of credit to the horses toughness in the run. “This guy is very similar to his big brother Ultimate Machete,” she said. “He just does not know when to give up and just fights right to the line. “Jesse Duke had the run to beat him today but my fella has a hell of a motor and was just too tough. The win was the fourth for the day for the All Stars Stable who also won with Having The Faith in Race 2, Winterfell in Race 3 and also with All U Need Is Faith in Race 4   Harnesslink Media    

At first glance Thefixer doesn’t look like a New Zealand Trotting Cup champion.  The horse who comes out on top in our greatest harness racing usually looks the part. Big, sleek, imposing or at least with an imposing record. The Cup is the race of heroes, equine Hercules like Christian Cullen, Terror To Love and Lazarus or at the very least age group stars who have stamped themselves with class from their early days. There is no shortage of those in today’s $800,000 Cup at Addington — Dream About Me, Jack’s Legend, Tiger Tara and even Locharburn are Derby or Jewels winners who were always going to get invited to the big dances later in life. Cruz Bromac, A G’s White Socks, Star Galleria and Eamon Maguire and also serious group race winners with the speed or stamina of future Cup winners. Not Thefixer. He isn’t imposing, pacing with his head slightly down, his neck stretched. His bank balance is the fifth poorest in the Cup. The richest race he has ever won was only $40,000 and even that was a consolation Sales race for horses who had never won a group one. He is, largely, unspectacular. The winner of just nine races. But that might change today at Addington because there is more to Thefixer than first meets the eye. He has been the find of the harness racing season who was hiding in plain sight. While he has never been the big noise, dig deeper into his mere 15-start career and you find some prized scalps. In his third ever start he beat subsequent Auckland Cup winner Vincent. At his latest outing 11 days ago he beat another Auckland Cup winner in Dream About Me. In between he has unassumingly downed most of his key rivals today, many on numerous occasions. The only major rival he has yet to beat is Aussie hard man Tiger Tara. Today he gets the perfect chance to change that. Thefixer has the ace draw and the manners to use it. If he steps well he can work and then relax, handing up to the right rival, maybe even a stablemate. If that happens — and standing starts can be lotteries — then he is the horse to beat. The days of slow New Zealand Cup are gone and today’s 3200m will probably be paced between 3:53 and 3:57. Will that bother Thefixer, who has never raced over the ultimate distance? “He will love it. He is one horse I am certain will handle a hard run 3200m,” says champion co-trainer Mark Purdon. Purdon usually gets a Sunday morning feel for his Cup runners, when one of them puts their hoof up and says “hey boss, I’m flying.” Thefixer is this year’s Sunday morning special. “He has really come on since his last start win and is exactly where he needs to be. You could see that in Sunday’s work. “It is hard to choose between him and Dream About Me as our best chance because they are both really well. But we couldn’t be happier with Thefixer.” If Dream About Me can lead as her draw and manners suggest then Thefixer will need to be a proper horse to run her down but if he can hold his markers advantage he looks ever so slightly the better bet. The danger, and most important horse in the race, is Tiger Tara and whether he launches a mid-race lead attack that softens the leaders up. But even then, Thefixer tucked away on the marker looks a beneficiary. Both Tiger Tara and Dream About Me have the been-there, done-that record of serious horses so deserve respect and consideration. They fit the mould. The New Zealand Cup winner mould. And Cruz Bromac, Jack’s Legend and even the battling Star Galleria have that most beautiful of racing gifts, sheer speed, that suggests they could dazzle today. Thefixer doesn’t fit the Cup winner mould. And he almost certainly won’t dazzle us. He might just go out and win the New Zealand Cup.   Guerin's Cup picks • Thefixer • Dream About Me • Tiger Tara   Cup Day • What: New Zealand Trotting Cup day. • Where: Addington, Christchurch. • When: First race 12.05pm today. • Who: The elite harness horses in $800,000 NZ Cup, $170,000 Sires' Stakes Final and $100,000 NZ Trotting Free-For-All. • Watch: Trackside TV has live coverage from 11am.   Michael Guerin

Wow.....where do we start with the 2018 Gr.1 $800,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup? As the second leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit, the Kiwi feature is steeped in tradition after first being staged back in 1904 when Monte Carlo proved victorious while many great names line the pages of history. And another great pacer will etch their name into the record books on the famous second Tuesday in November at Addington. The build-up has been intense and absolutely relentless as we draw closer to the 3200m stand start feature. The early scratchings of Australian star Chicago Bull and local ace Ultimate Machete have only added to the pre-race drama. In fact, the race has seen more moves than a 1980’s disco dance floor! And so many questions need to be answered. All the normal types like who has the Best Stamina? Endurance? Willingness? Desire? And Hunger? But what about answers to the following; Can the All Stars win another Cup? The Mark Purdon/Natalie Rasmussen combination has won 3 of the last 4 editions (Lazarus x 2 & Adore Me) and this year is represented by Thefixer, Cruz Bromac, Eamon Maguire and Dream About Me. Can Dream About Me become the latest mare to claim the Cup? The last mare to score in the Cup came from this stable with Adore Me triumphant four years ago. At this point, Dream About Me is the only mare starting in the Cup although Queen Bee Bardon is listed as the third emergency. Thefixer is facing the starter for only the 16th time, only Mainland Banner has had less starts prior to winning the Cup (it was her 12th start). Can the All Stars prepare the trifecta in the Cup? Back in 2016, they prepared 1st, 3rd & 4th (Lazarus, Titan Banner & Smolda). The biggest number of starters in a New Zealand Cup from All Stars is five (2012). Respected trainer Robert Dunn has the biggest representation in the Cup with five starters; he will gear up Alta Orlando, Captain Dolmio, Letspendanitetogetha, Billy Badger and Zadaka. Can he train his second winner of the event? Dunn scored with wonder mare Mainland Banner back in 2005. Can Ricky May score a record 8th Cup victory when he partners the Greg and Nina Hope trained A G’s White Socks? The next best is Cecil Devine who won 6 Cups. Can Aussie raider Tiger Tara join the likes of Steel Jaw, (My) Lightning Blue and Arden Rooney as an Australian trained winner of the Cup? Prepared by Sydney horseman Kevin Pizzuto, the $1.59 million earner will be handled by regular reinsman Todd McCarthy who is taking his 3rd Cup drive. Now an eight-year-old, Can Tiger Tara join Monkey King (2010) as the most recent winner of the Cup at that age? Tiger Tara is starting in his 4th Cup. Champion reinsman Tony Herlihy is chasing his 4th Cup victory and will partner the highly regarded Auckland trained Star Galleria for trainer Steve Reid. Can Barry Purdon train his 4th Cup winner when Jack’s Legend takes his spot in the Cup? If successful, it will be his 1st outright victory after preparing his trio of winners in partnership with his legendary father Roy. Can Zachary Butcher (Jack’s Legend) join his father David (Changeover – 2008) as a Cup winning driver? Oddly, Changeover (Geoff Small) was the most recent North Island trained winner of the Cup. Can Natalie Rasmussen (Thefixer), Sam Ottley (Forgotten Highway) or Sheree Tomlinson (Locharburn) join Kerryn Manning as a female winning driver of the Cup? Can super sire Bettors Delight claim his 5th Cup after winning the past 4 editions? This year, the record breaking stallion is represented by Thefixer, Dream About Me, Jack’s Legend, Forgotten Highway & Tiger Tara. Can 1998 Cup winner Christian Cullen produce his 2nd winner (Mainland Banner – 2005)? The wonder horse is represented by Locharburn and Baileys Knight (2nd emergency). Interestingly, the horse that has claimed the title of APG Grand Circuit champion for the past two seasons has won the Cup…..the one and only Lazarus! So, all this and more will make sense late on Tuesday afternoon. Because then, at 5.12pm Local time, it will be time for answers.   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/

Not many owners can claim to have won a New Zealand Derby, a New Zealand Messenger, and a Four Year Old Emerald. And to have had two consecutive sales toppers at the yearling sales, but that’s what Stu and Pauline Gillan of Lochiel have achieved. The Derby, the Messenger and the Emerald were all achieved this season with two horses - Eamon Maguire and Sheriff. It’s been an outstanding racing season for the couple who not only have shares in Sheriff and Eamon Maguire, but also in Thefixer, English Rose and Motu Top Mach. And between them all this season they’ve won thirteen races and stakes of $418,548. The Gillan’s sales toppers as yearlings were Titanium in 2013 and Bollinger in 2015. Stu doesn’t come from a racing background, but he says his interest was developed at an early age. “My father enjoyed his five bob doubles. He’d put the doubles on and listen to the first leg and normally miss out. Then he’d go to the pub and talk about what happened. He didn’t go to the races a lot. He went to Wingatui and Waikouaiti on News Years Day. I used to have bets (pretend) with my father and pick horses I could pronounce,” he said. Listening to the wireless in those early years also heightened his passion for the industry. “I remember as a nine year old running home from school to hear the 1954 New Zealand Trotting Cup which Johnny Globe won. We were all fans of Johnny Globe. He was a lovely black horse.” Stu was educated at Kings High School in Dunedin and loved sport. That’s where he met Phil Creighton. As teenagers they played cricket together for Albion and rugby for Pirates. “I loved rugby and cricket but I was bloody hopeless at playing them. I also played squash for years.” In later years he also refereed rugby in Southland.                                                                                           “I really enjoyed that because all you do is look after yourself while if you’re coaching you’ve got twenty guys you’ve got to try and get on the field. I got to know the Browns (Southland trainer Murray Brown and his brother Bevan). They didn’t mind helping me referee games.” Stu met Pauline in 1970 after he was transferred to Invercargill to work for New Zealand Insurance.   He subsequently worked for a number of different companies before setting up his own accounting business. “I worked for the Permanent Building Society, then got offered a job with John Harrington of Harrington and Partners. After five years the company merged with Forrest, Burns and Ashby. I was made redundant and Pauline talked me into having a go on my own. It’s good to be able to work on your own and be independent.” As an accountant he doesn’t have big flashy companies on his books, preferring to deal with the southern farming type. “I’ve got good smaller sheep farmers. I don’t have any dairy farmers because they owe too much money,” he chuckled. Pauline has been the receptionist at the Southland Hospital Children’s Ward for the past twenty six years and is also an ardent netball fan, having followed the Southern Steel and Sting since the franchise started in the old Invercargill Centennial Hall. She and her good friend Bronwyn Queale, also from Lochiel, were often first in line when it came to getting their seasons tickets. Stu’s first yearling purchase was in 1975 when he bought Scottish Hanover colt Pierre Scott for $3,000. It was out of the Thurber Frost mare Heather Frost. Pierre Scott started eighteen times for three different trainers; Hamish Hunter, Stu Campbell and Noel Creighton, without banking a cheque. “He was hopeless. Anyway the guy that bred him Roy Adam who was a Life Member of the West Australia Trotting Association, was so disappointed with the price he got (for Pierre Scott) that he took the mare home in foal (to Lumber Dream). That foal was Preux Chevalier.” Preux Chevalier went on to win forty one races in just fifty six starts and $791,331. His wins include an Interdominion Final in Melbourne, a West Australian Cup, NSW Miracle Mile and New Zealand Free For All. The one that got away!! Stu’s first winner was in 1995 when Mocca Magic, which he raced with Phil Creighton, won. She was by Vance Hanover out of the Local Light mare Mia Mocca. Trained by Greg Hope, she won another race before becoming a broodmare. Creighton and Gillian bred from her for a number of years and her best foal proved to be Angela Gold (In The Pocket) which won two races here before heading state side. She won a further twenty two races there, recording a best mile time of 1-53.0. “Phil gave me a share in her (Mocca Magic). She won at Forbury Park driven by Ricky May. Phil gave him fifty bucks unbeknown to me and I gave him fifty as well. Ricky didn’t say no to either.” (Laughter). So the breeding bug had begun. “Over a few years Phil bought three broodmares that I had shares in. 1981 was our first sale and we took a filly up to Christchurch. He’s had two or three in the sales each year ever since and I’ve had an average of one. We never made any money for many years but by selling them it kept the pot boiling.” Gillan also bought at the sales, purchasing a Bettor’s Delight colt Match Point at the 2011 Yearling Sales in Christchurch. He was out of the lightly raced Badlands Hanover mare Clijsters. Her second dam Vicario was a half-sister by Soky’s Atom to New Zealand Cup winner Il Vicolo. Vicario was a very good broodmare leaving Stunin Cullen the winner of the Hunter Cup, Great Northern Derby, Ashburton Flying Stakes, Sires Stakes Final, as well as twelve other races with total stakes of $1,493,716. Vicario also left Coburg (10 wins). “Dean Taylor trained him (Match Point) for three or four starts and said he was going to take time. Eventually we brought him down to Graeme Anderson to train on the beach. I think the beach work and more aggressive driving by Dexter Dunn helped him. I owned him with John Blakeley who passed away about a year ago. Unfortunately in New Zealand you soon get out of your class and he wasn’t good from a stand so we sold him to Australia.” Match Point won his first start at Forbury for Taylor and two other races from that stable before he was transferred to Anderson’s stable. He won first up for Anderson at Winton in March 2015. He won three other races before he was exported to Aussie later that year. In Australia he’s won another seven races and paced a mile in 1-51.6. “That was my introduction to Graeme Anderson. I’ve been fortunate that we’ve been able to buy shares in three horses with him since.” Typical of his accounting background, Gillan has been calculating with these investments. From capital gained from the sale of his high end yearlings he’s reinvested in racing stock that have been up and running and with potential. That investment money has primarily come from broodmare gem Asabella. She was bought as a yearling at the 2002 yearling sales by Creighton for about $48,000 and Gillan bought into the ownership. She was by In The Pocket out of the Smooth Fella mare Bellisimo. It’s the family that has produced Jovial Jennie the winner of nine races and the dam of Happy Hazel which won twelve races including the 1989 Great Northern Oaks. Asabella was initially trained by Mark Purdon and won just two races. “She had a bit of speed but lacked toughness. She raced a bit in Auckland over the short distances and didn’t have much luck.” After her racing days were over the partnership set about breeding from her. In 2008 they sold Red River Hanover gelding Black Denim to Rob Storer for $27,500. He was renamed Code Red and won six in New Zealand and another six in Australia. The following year Dave Carville bought the mares next foal Bet On Black for $45,000 and he was renamed as well – Ohoka’s Bondy looked smart at two but was exported to Australia winless. However he ultimately won twenty two races in Australia including the $125,000 Group One Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park. Asabella’s next foal and first filly Dancing Diamonds was also sold at the yearling sales in 2010 - knocked down to Mark Purdon for $110,000. She was raced by Braeden and Caroline Whitelock. She won her first four races as a two year old and her two biggest wins were in the New Zealand Yearling Sales Series Two and Three Year Old Championship. She won $343,276. As a broodmare Dancing Diamonds has left two foals of racing age; Rock Diamonds which has won fourteen races in Australia including the Group Two Caduceus Club Classic at Gloucester Park, the Group Three John Higgins Memorial and Group Two Westral Four Year Old Classic both at Gloucester Park. The mare’s other foal is the unbeaten Art Major filly Princess Tiffany. Her five wins include the Group One Caduceus Club Two Year Old Fillies Classic and Two Year Old Diamond at this year’s Harness Jewells at Cambridge. The following year Trevor Lindsay from Australia bought Asabella’s Mach Three filly Bluegrass Belle for $52,000. She was exported to Australia but never raced. Things were about to get even better for the Creighton and Gillan breeding partnership. In 2013 and 2015 they bred the top lot at the Christchurch yearling sales. Both out of Asabella; Titanium was bought by Emilo and Mary Rosati for $170,000 in 2013 while two sales later the same couple bought Asabella’s next foal Bollinger for $200,000. Since then Robinson Crusoe ($24,500) and Brantley ($35,000) the mare’s next two foals, have sold but are currently unraced.  Asabella’s eight foals when sold at the sales grossed $664,000 that being an average of $83,000 per foal. “She’s eighteen now and we’re very keen to get a filly out of her to carry on the bloodline. She aborted a Bettor’s Delight filly about eighteen months ago and is in foal to Art Major so hopefully we get a filly at Christmas time. Those sales (Titanium and Bollinger) gave us a bit of money to buy into pacers. Phil had a quarter share in three horses with the Kennards and he gave me a half of his quarter share in all three horses. They all won. Meticulous was the best, he was a nice horse but he had a lot of injuries.” Meticulous was the first foal by Christian Cullen out of the Falcon Seelster mare Syriana, and she’s from the famed Black Watch family.  He was bought by Mark Purdon for $100,000 at the 2012 Australasian Classic Yearling Sales.  “I love the sales. I study the catalogue every night. I’m more of a theory man than being hands on.” Since then Stu’s had shares in seven to eight horses with Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. “Thefixer’s been the best. He’s back in work.” Thefixer has won six of his eleven starts, and won his last two during Cup week last November. He hasn’t been sighted since. “He got a nail in the foot at Auckland. He came back and raced at Cup Week on both days but then it got infected so we turned him out for two months.” The Gillans also bought into Titan Banner in October 2015 after the horse had won five races. He went on to win another eleven with Pauline in the ownership and finished his New Zealand career when he ran second to Vincent in the 2017 Auckland Cup. They also purchased a share in the Art Major gelding Eamon Maguire which had won two workouts and qualified before they joined the ownership.   Bruce Stewart

Ultimate Machete has to be Mr Perfect to leave Addington tonight as a deserved favourite for the New Zealand Trotting Cup. The long-time favourite has been unplaced in all three races this season and yet punters have stuck firm with him, especially after Aussie star Chicago Bull was withdrawn with injury this week. Memories of his previous Cup week heroics, winning the Sires’ Stakes at three and crushing Tiger Tara in the free-for-all last season, as well as the fact he is trained by Purdon-Rasmussen have seen Ultimate Machete still lead the market even though he has galloped away in two of his three starts this term. But now the time for excuses are over. With just 11 days until the New Zealand Cup fitness can no longer be a concern and he will never get a better chance to step away safely than off the 30m mark tonight, with plenty of room and horses to follow out and keep his mind on the job. A safe beginning from Ultimate Machete should enable him to work forward and bully most of his rivals tonight and win. Anything less, and Tiger Tara deserves to be Cup favourite. Trainer Mark Purdon is cautiously optimistic the composition of tonight’s race suits his stocky five-year-old. “Usually following them out like that they get their chance to step away and at home he can actually be brilliant away but you have to get him on the right foot,” says Purdon. “So I’d like to see that this week because he goes back to a full front line in the Cup where his manners will need to be perfect.”Purdon and partner Natalie Rasmussen hold the aces in the feature and he says Dream About Me is every bit as good achance as Ultimate Machete while Thefixer is over a recent setback and worked pleasingly on Wednesday morning so along with the likes of Alta Orlando mean Ultimate Machete will have to earn that Cup favouritism tonight. Tonight’s meeting sees some important pre-Cup meeting clashes, with the next heat of the Sires’ Stakes and class three-year-olds Ultimate Sniper (Ultimate Machete’s little brother) versus Major Trojan in a lower grade race.   Michael Guerin

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

Expensive yearling Honor and Glory recouped some of his $170,000 price tag when he impressively won his first race at Ascot Park today (Sunday). He was bred by local breeder Diane Cournane who shares in the ownership with her husband Noel and The Butterworth Racing Syndicate. Honor and Glory was originally assigned to Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen’s Rolleston stable after his sale to Merv and Meg Butterworth but because of his size he was never going to race as a young horse. “I think he was just growing too fast for his body,” said trainer Lauren Pearson who's also a niece of the Cournanes. The gelding was also trained for a short period by Knapdale trainer Robin Swain. “He was at Robin's jogging up. He couldn’t get around his track and kept galloping. Thankfully for us Robin recommended that he come here so he could be trained on a big track. We’ve had no problem with him galloping here.” Honor and Glory winning easily on debut - Photo Bruce Stewart. Prior to today’s debut the four year old Art Major gelding had won two workouts and two trials, hence his $1.30 starting price. “The first time he went to the workouts he showed a bit of speed and has just got better and better.” Pearson and her partner Brent Barclay who drove Honor and Glory, were relatively confident of a good showing today but had question marks around how he would go on the smaller Invercargill track. “He worked really well with Duke Of Wellington on Tuesday but you can never be too confident. We were just worried about the track and the first bend.” Brent Barclay, Honor And Glory, Lauren Peason and Diane Cournane - Photo Bruce Stewart. Meanwhile Pearson is happy with the way Duke Of Wellington went at Friday’s workouts. He won his three horse heat in a good fashion and looks set for another very good season. “He went real well and we’ll take him back (to the Workouts) again. He’s pulled up well and was bucking and kicking which is not like him.”   Bruce Stewart

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

Todays harness racing pick six at Ashburton raceway is terminating and guaranteed to $50,000. With with a premier day of racing ahead and large open fields, selecting the winning combination will not be easy. A highlight of the day is the Ashburton Flying Stakes, a traditional lead-up race to the New Zealand Cup in November. This years running of the Flying Stakes is one of the more even contests in the last several years. The All Stars Stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have three of the leading chances in the race including the New Zealand cup favourite Ultimate Machete. Natalie Rasmussen commented on the All Stars website that Eamon Maguire is probably the one of most interest. "I am very happy with him he worked good during the week and this race will tell us whether we go to the Kaikoura Cup or what happens next. "He has handled standing starts but especially when he is a bit fresh he can get a bit toey leading up to the start so that is a wee worry in a race like this. "But all going well he is really ready to go a big race if he does things right. "Dream About Me is just in great condition. Last year year she was a lovely big mare and now she is a huge big mare! but she has all the bases covered and she will be hard to beat. "Ultimate Machete has really cleaned up since Methven. Mark felt his work on Friday was as good as he has done this time in and he is right in a race like this. "Makes it difficult to pick out," she said The All Stars stable holds the key to several other legs of pick six as well especially in the second to last leg where they have six of the runners in the twelve horse field. The first leg of Pick Six starts on Race 6 at 3:04pm   Leg 1     Race 6 [3:04pm] An unlucky big finisher at his last start against the top horses in the Methven Cup sees Airpark Flyer as the main chance and possible anchor for the first leg of pick six. Probable leader Nearis Green is going to be hard to catch around his home track and would be a good back up along with the unbeaten Flying Mister Ideal who could fly home late.     Leg 2     Race 7 [3:42pm] Leg two is the Ashburton Flying Stakes with several winning chances in what is an evenly matched race from the standing start 2400m.  NZ Cup favourite Ultimate Machete would be our top selection with Star Galleria, Dream About Me and Eammon Maguire all needed as well in what is a tricky leg.   Leg 3     Race 8 [4:18pm] Another tricky leg of pick six here with the leading chance Sundees Son occasionally prone to doing things wrong at the start or during the race. If his manners are good he looks the winner but backup could be needed. Globe Trekker,Ruthless Kayla, McLovin and We'll Meet Again are all chances but take as many as the budget allows in this leg.   Leg 4     Race 9 [4:53pm] The fourth leg is also tough with five horses we think that have the best winning chance. Harriet Of Mot is trotting so well at the moment and she might be the hardest to beat from the ace draw. Great Things Happen drawn beside her has gate speed and could lead early if Gavin Smith pushes the go button off the mobile gate. Marcoola and Winterfell will both appreciate the big track and will go forward at some stage and Woodstone could be the knockout if he gets a cart into the race at the right time.   Leg 5     Race 10 [5:33pm] The All Stars Stable dominate this leg of pick six training half of the twelve horse field. Turn It Up is the logical favourite and has been good from a stand in his previous starts. It would pay to include Ashley Locaz, Spankem and All You Need Is Faith as all are solid winning chances with the right trip.   Leg 6     Race 11 [6:12pm]  The final leg is an even go and there are a number of chances again. Artstanding is coming in fresh but has the draw and he did win in that condition last season. Ready To Bloom has a tricky draw but is needed along with Johnny White, Mama Knows Best, Wainui Creek and Mongolian Cavalry.   Suggested Pick Six   ($19.20 for 10%) Leg 1     7 Leg 2     1,2,7,8 Leg 3     11 Leg 4     2,3,7,8 Leg 5     4,5,7,8 Leg 6     5,6,7,10,12,15   Harnesslink Media  

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