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Tonight's $500,000 Hunter Cup looked like a much easier assignment for the champion New Zealand trained harness racing pacer Smolda who has been battling the brilliant  Lennytheshark in recent weeks. With no Lennytheshark or Beautide in the field, Smolda looked a class above his rivals tonight but as races can do Smolda was pushed to the limit to justify his hot favourtisum. As expected Ohoka Punter stepped brilliantly and grabbed the early lead for Anthony Butt and immediately made it clear he was holding the front when Messini and Chris Alford had a look for the lead. Meanwhile Smolda and Mark Purdon were working arounding the field and had a strong look for the lead as well but Ohoka Punter and Anthony Butt kicked up and held the lead. Five hundred metres later, Mark Purdon really put it to Ohoka Punter and this time Anthony Butt let him go as Mark was showing no signs of stopping the attack. Once in front Smolda kept clicking over those sub 30 second quarters and had most of the competition in trouble down the back straight the last time. On the point of the turn Ohoka Punter eased off the trail and looked a distinct threat but though he got up to Smolda he just couldn't get past the whole way down the Melton straight. Smolda just wouldn't lie down and still had a head margin on Ohoka Punter at the finish with the West Australian My Hard Copy fying late for third after having a soft run four back on the inner during the running. Smolda's run gained even further kudos when the time of 3:59.1 was announced which took nearly a second off the old record at Tabcorp Park Melton. That equates to a mile rate of 1:57.3 for the 3280 metres from a standing start which is a great effort while the closing sectionals were covered in 56.4 and 27.9 Mark Purdon was full of praise for his warrior post race. " That was a great effort tonight." " He was very keen out there and never really came back to me at any stage of the race." "He has a high cruising speed and with him over racing and running along like he was I thought he might be vunerable." " However he has refused to let anyone past." It was a great performance" Mark Purdon said. Tonights win was career victory number twenty four for the son of Courage Under Fire and took his lifetime earnings over the $1,300,000 mark. Mark Purdon is now considering weather to head to Menangle next week for a shot at the Miracle Mile with Smolda but is unlikely to make a decision until Tuesday at the earliest. Harnesslink Media

Who will drive the Mark Purdon trained runners during the Miracle Mile carnival at Tabcorp Park Menangle? With an artillery including Have Faith In Me, Our Waikiki Beach and Fight For Glory the harness racing stable is set to be represented in a number of the big races later this month. Last year Purdon left the race driving to Natalie Rasmussen on Inter Dominion Grand Final day at Menangle and she didn't let the stable down winning the Ladyship Mile with Adore Me in Australasian record time and the NSW Oaks. Rasmussen returned to Sydney in April last year to drive Our Waikiki Beach in the APG 2 year old final and Smolda in the Len Smith Mile and won both of the group one events. When asked on Sydney radio over the weekend who will drive the horses in Sydney during the Miracle Mile carnival, Rasmussen gave no clear indication on who would sit behind the Purdon runners. "We don't even know, two weeks in horse racing is a long time so we have to actually get there first," Rasmussen said. "We don't worry about that too much - we'll work it out when the time comes." Rasmussen's record at Menangle is mind blowing. In only 44 drives on the 1400 metre circuit since it opened in 2008, Natalie has won 17 races and been placed on a further 15 occasions meaning she finishes in the top three 72.72% of the time she drives in a race on the track. In her last 18 drives at Menangle, Rasmussen has won ten races and run a further four placings. What is more astounding is her group one record at Menangle. Rasmussen has driven in 16 group one races on the track for eight wins and six placings. The two horses that failed to place at the highest level when driven by Rasmussen at Menangle were Western Cam in the 2010 Len Smith Mile when fourth behind Smoken Up and Blacks A Fake after finishing seventh in the 2009 Miracle Mile. Greg Hayes

As we have got closer to tonights $200,000 Group 1 Victoria Derby at Tabcorp Park Melton, more and more of the local harness racing trainers were saying that Lazarus was far from a past the post proprosition and was vunerable from his poor second line draw. Several suggested that he had been shown too much respect in his Derby heat win and that wouldn't be happening this week and he was very beatable. Trainer Mark Purdon as per normal for the reserved horseman refused to buy into the banter and instead was content to say he was thrilled where his colt was fitness wise and thought he would run a big race. And what a fantastic run it turned out to be as he worked hard throughout the Derby but still had enough gas in the tank to brush home in a brilliant 26.3 to add his name to the Victoria Derby honour roll. The very talented Don't Hold Back grabbed the lead early from barrier five for driver Greg Sugars and quickly signalled that he was in no mind to hand up. Mark Purdon was quickly onto the early three wide line but was left three wide for nearly 800 metres before finding the death seat outside Don't Hold Back with 1100 metres to go. Sugars was happy to let Don't Hold Back cut out even quarters in front before upping the tempo down the back straight. At the 400 metres mark Don't Hold Back went for the doctor and put a length on Lazarus and it appeared that an upset was on the cards. But as soon as Mark Purdon went for Lazarus, he quickly dashed up to Don't Hold Back and put the race to bed in a few big strides. Three Ways after sitting in the trail the whole journey snuck up the passing lane late to grab second from a very game Don't Hold Back. The colt by Bettor's Delight paced the 2240 metres in a brilliant 2:40.2, a mile rate of 1:55.1 with closing sectionals of 55 and 26.3. Lazarus has just had the 14 starts now for 12 wins and has taken his earnings past the $600,000 mark. The arrogance of the win by Lazarus tonight in doing a lot more work in the Derby and yet still getting away from his opposition when it counted stamps as a colt with a huge future in front of him. Harnesslink Media

If you are wondering whether Smolda can make the most of his barrier draw advantage over Lennytheshark in tomorrow night’s $400,000 Victoria Cup you are not alone. Harness racing trainer-driver Mark Purdon would love to know, too. Smolda has barrier four in the 2240m mobile and if he can beat Lennytheshark to the marker pegs and control the race it will be a huge advantage. But if Lenny, drawn barrier six, crosses him then he becomes the horse to beat. Kiwi trainer Purdon realises the equation could be that simple so says he will be doing everything he can to reach the front. “But whether we can do that, I honestly don’t know,” says Purdon. “I can’t remember the last time we asked him to go hard off the gate but I realise we have to this week. “So I will give him a brisk warm-up and get his mind on the job and I am sure he will leave pretty quickly. “But whether that will be quick enough to hold Lenny, I don’t know. “And if he gets in front of us then he will be very hard to catch.” The pair quinellaed the Ballarat Cup last Saturday, with Smolda leading and just holding out the Victorian pacer, who was fresh up since winning the Inter Dominion sitting parked in Perth on December 13 and ran him close after sitting parked. Lennytheshark is likely to take more improvement out of that race and has an exceptional Melton record so the first 10 strides of the race could decide it, with all other drivers on the front line likely to hand up to one of the favoured pair. Purdon won’t have any such early worries with Lazarus in the $200,000 Victoria Derby, with the superstar three-year-old having to settle early from a second line draw before attacking. “It is quite a good Derby with plenty of depth but I am not too worried about the draw because he is a very good horse.” If Lazarus has to sit parked he will still probably win so getting caught up in traffic three wide looks his biggest concern. With Ohoka Punter is hotly favoured in the standing start feature tomorrow night, The Pure Steel so it could be an epic night for the Kiwis, rounded out by Monbet in the $50,000 Australasian Trotting Champs. He has a 20m handicap but the final is missing series second favourite Arboe and most of the other fancies have drawn the second line, meaning Monbet should get a nice tow into the race. by Michael Guerin Harness Racing Victoria

The Raising of Lazarus is a prominent miracle attributed to Jesus. Erasing Lazarus from the VHRSC Victoria Derby history books may take a similarly divine feat. Mark Purdon’s trotting freak lived up to expectations in the Derby heats at Ballarat last Saturday, and most discussions about the Tabcorp Park Melton final are framed around New Zealand’s short-priced favourite. Nathan Jack trains and drives Zee Dana, which ran second to Lazarus in last weekend’s heat. “It was a bit disturbing how easy Lazarus could beat him,” Jack said. “He was pretty impressive. “Once he straightened up it was just like Mark hit the turbo button and he was gone.” Jack said Lazarus held all the keys, and while disadvantaged to draw 11, “he’ll have to have a lot of bad luck or interference to get beaten”. But beaten he can be, says West Australia trainer Gary Elson, who will have Sprinter starting from barrier seven. Elson said it was important not to get lured into serving Lazarus a red carpet run to the finishing line. “He’s very good, but I don’t think he’s unbeatable,” Elson said. “We have one of those in our own team called Beaudiene Boaz. People think he’s a superstar, and Lazarus might be that, and so no one attacks them. If he has to do a bit of work things could be different.” There’s certainly no bluster from Purdon’s camp that would increase the target on Lazarus’ back. “He’s done nothing wrong all season and he’s still on the improve,” Purdon offered. A strong contingent will attempt to unseat the raider, and potentially knock a boatload of punters out of the first leg of the quaddie. Much of that form can be drawn around Jack. First off, Zee Dana, his own three-year-old that drew horribly and will start from barrier 13. Jack said he “was really happy with” Zee Dana’s Ballarat effort, having been back from a spell and had two soft runs before the heat. “I tried to hold the front and see how he went. I was happy that I could hold the rest of them off.” Jack also steered Brallos Pass and Kingofthestars into second placings in their respective Derby heats, and said all three would “be better for the run”. “I was pretty happy with (Brallos Pass at Ballarat). He sat back and kept creeping forward and was really good in defeat, but that’s to take nothing from the winner (Dont Hold Back), who was just too good on the night.” And of Kingofthestars, Jack said “he was like a junior footballer going into A grade – it was first game against the big boys”. “He was pretty good. At the top of the straight I thought I’d win, but he probably got a little tired.” It was Elson’s Sprinter that ran Kingofthestars down, completing its last 800m in 54.65s, the quickest of the three heats that included a 26.95s final 400m. Only Lazarus (26.77s) and Cant Refuse (26.85s) ran a better final quarter-mile of those contesting Derby heats. “I was really happy with how he run and really happy with the drive,” Elson said. “The horse will improve this week, because we only got in about three o’clock last Thursday morning. “I think he’s a real chance, he just has to get a barrier. Sprinter is really quick and knows where the winning post is.” Sprinter drew barrier seven, having been the last horse called, leaving Kristy Elson a little downcast as she flipped the final hat to confirm their hope’s starting position. On their immediate inside are Brallos Pass and Dont Hold Back, the latter being Mario Attard’s colt, a son of Courage Under Fire. Attard said the field contained many threats. “It is a good mark for us to come up against Lazarus, but also Sprinter – the guys from the west haven’t come here for the weather,” he said. “If you look at the field they are all good horses.” Michael Howard

Tonights $120,000 Ballarat Pacing Cup drew two of the best FFA pacers in Australasia and the two heavyweights didn't disappoint, turning on a great battle to give harness racing followers a taste of what is in store over the upcoming Victorian carnival. Smolda and Mark Purdon settled three back in the running line early as Metro Mike lead from barrier one before Purdon launched Smolda with just over two laps to go and surged to the front not long after. Keeping up a hot tempo, Smolda had a lot of the field flat a long way from home. At that stage, Chris Alford launched the other heavyweight Lennytheshark from back in the field and he quickly ended up on Smolda's wheel a lap out. Mark Purdon upped the ante again down the back straight in 28.6 but Lennytheshark was slowly taking ground off him and the two champions slugged it out the length of the Ballarat straight with Smolda still having a neck to spare at the finish. Bling It On got home late well for a good third after doing plenty of work midrace while Mossdale Conner was a fine fourth in his Australian debut. Smolda smashed the Ballarat track record for 2710 metres with a brilliant clocking of 3:14.2, a sensational mile rate of 1:55.3 with closing sectionals of 55.6 and 27. It was the Courage Under Fire gelding's twenty-third career victory and took his earnings over the $940,000 mark. Lennytheshark lost no admirers in defeat especially considering the race was run in a track record and the barrier draw next Wednesday for the Victoria Cup will probably sort out who starts favourite in next Saturday nights feature between these two champions.  Harnesslink Media

The three heats for the Victoria Derby were held tonight at the harness racing meeting at Ballarat and Mark Purdon produced the champion New Zealand three year old Lazarus to throw down the gauntlet to the locals with an outstanding win in quick time in his heat. Heat One Even though he had drawn poorly on the second line for Mark Purdon behind the rank outsider Designer Arden, Lazarus was sent out a $1:30 favourite in the first Victoria Derby heat on the strength of winning ten from twelve in his homeland and nearly $500,000. Allowed to settle four back in the running line by Purdon early, Lazarus looped the field to sit outside the leader Zee Dana and Nathan Jack with just over a lap to go. Purdon never applied any real pressure down the back straight but past the 400 metres he got serious and Lazarus quickly shot to the front on straightening and ran away for a super impressive win with Purdon hardly moving in the bike. Zee Dana stuck on gamely for second in front of Born To Rocknroll who did plenty early and never flinched in holding on for third. Can't Refuse was another to do plenty of work early and hold on for fourth and qualify for the final. The Bettor's Delight colt paced the 2200 metres in 2:39.2, a mile rate of 1:56.5 with closing sectionals of 55.5 and 26.9. Heat Two Heading into the second heat, three horses stood out from the pack on paper and although the three of them had challenging runs in a fast run heat, they still filled the first three placings at the finish. Greg Sugars burned Don't Hold Back off the gate from barrier six to grab an early lead but was immediately challenged by Three Ways and Kate Gath who assumed the lead after 600 metres after a tussle with Don't Hold Back that never got too serious. With a lap to go Brallos Pass and Nathan Jack moved up into the death seat but applied no real pressure until passing the 400 metres mark. Mastering Three Ways on straightening, Brallos Pass looked the winner but Dont Hold Back and Greg Sugars eased out from the trail and flew late for a narrow but impressive victory. Brallos Pass lost no admirers in just going under after sitting parked the last lap while Code Black flew late to grab third from a very game Three Ways late in the piece. The Courage Under Fire colt trained by Mario Attard paced the 2200 metres in 2:39.6, a mile rate of 1:56.7 with closing sectionals of 56.1 and 27.4 which was only .4 of a second slower than Lazarus ran in heat one. Heat Three Again on paper three horses stood out for us on exposed form and they duly ran the trifecta but certainly not in the order that everyone expected. Kingofthestars and Nathan Jack lead with ease from barrier three but the early pace was moderate as several of the poorly drawn horses moved from the back to get handy. The West Australian raider Sprinter was parked for a couple of hundred metres before receiving a trail on the back of the very smart Power Of Red and Amanda Turnbull who took up the death seat. The pace really went on from the half in this heat with Kingofthestars brushing down the back in 27.7 but Power Of Red and Sprinter were still in touch as they turned for home. Just when it looked like Kingofthestars would prevail, Sprinter flew late to grab the favourite for a very smart win. Kingofthestars was slightly disappointing in being beaten after having his own rules in front while Power Of Red stuck on gamely after doing plenty mid race. Iceenothink was a fair way from the first three in fourth which earned him a spot in the Victoria Derby final. The Mach Three gelding trained by Gary Elson and driven by Nathan Turvey paced the 2200 metres in 2:39.2, a mile rate of 1:56.5 with closing sectionals of 55.2 and 27.5 Sprinters winning time was the same as Lazarus ran in winning heat one. Harnesslink Media

The following is an article produced by David McCarthy of All Stars Racing Stables regarding the barns outstanding group of three year old colts and fillies. Mark Purdon There were a couple of moments there where I thought Dream About Me might be boxed in in the Raith Memorial last Saturday night. I was confident she would win with a little luck but when the three wide train was outside I was a little concerned, mainly for the punters who had put so much on her. Luckily I could afford to ease her out of the situation and she was just too good for them. She will have a trial next before racing again but on that same night (they have trials on the race programme) Waikiki Beach will have another run and with the Oaks and the Derby heats still some time away, they will both have another run before then probably. I can understand there is a lot of interest in the relatively merits of Dream About Me and Golden Goddess as well as between Lazarus and Waikiki Beach. As far as the colts go they are more different from each other than the fillies. Waikiki Beach is a bigger horse and very strong and he has come up very well. Lazarus is a finer type which is not against him on ability but possibly Waikiki Beach will at this stage take more racing to peak and stay there. They are both very good horses to deal with and their temperaments are a help especially when they are travelling so much these days. At this stage it seems almost certain that Waikiki Beach would remain in Australia. It is not easy to justify bringing him back for a Derby here on the costs involved and he has races like the Breeder's Challenge series to get ready for good stakes.   So it will be a while before he and Lazarus have to clash and I have to be more definite about their chances ! At this stage Lazarus would come back for the Northern Derby but we are not absolutely certain of his plans until after the Victorian Derby. Golden Goddess and Dream About Me are more similar to the colts in that they are both outstanding staying fillies who have the speed to get into a good place but then have the power to go on with it. They are much the same in that respect and their workloads are very similar. Dream About Me is the more relaxed of the two and so a little easier to train. Golden Goddess needs a firmer hand in that she can get on top of you if you let her. Like a lot of horses she would have you on if she thought she could. Not a difficult filly but not as easy going. David McCarthy - All Stars Racing Stables  -  Check site here

The barrier draw for the Group 1 Ballarat Pacing Cup (2710m) has been conducted and here is how the harness racing field will line up on Saturday night.   Star New Zealand pacer Smolda was the biggest winner at the barrier draw on Tuesday after drawing barrier five with trainer-driver Mark Purdon expected to send him forward at the start.   He was runner up in the Group 1 New Zealand Trotting Cup (3200m) behind Arden Rooney in November and was a fast-finishing third in the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) behind stablemate Have Faith In Me on New Year’s Eve.   Inter Dominion winner Lennytheshark has come up with barrier nine which is a decent draw and the superstar entire’s turn of foot and toughness allows Chris Alford to drive him in a number of different ways.   Speedy beginner Major Crocker will have his say early after drawing barrier three and should come out charging in a bid to find the pegline first.    He led throughout to claim the Inter Dominion Consolation (2536m) two starts ago before running 10th in the Group 1 South Australian Pacing Cup (2230m).   Mossdale Conner has been racing in terrific form in New Zealand and barrier four will suit as the six-year-old gelding has good gate speed to help land a spot early.   NSW star Bling It On has barrier 12 to overcome after four consecutive wins in his home state have been impressive for the McCarthy stable.   Im Corzin Terror will begin from the inside of the second row after dominating the Group 3 Hamilton Pacing Cup (2660m) from the breeze position.   Franco Nelson joins Anthony Butt in Victoria after running fourth in the New Zealand Trotting Cup. Barrier seven significantly hinders his chances in the Ballarat Pacing Cup.   2016 Ballarat Pacing Cup final field and barrier draw:    Barrier  Horse Trainer 1 Metro Mike Emma Stewart 2 Hotasel John Justice 3 Major Crocker Vince Vallelonga 4 Mossdale Conner Greg Hope 5 Smolda Mark Purdon 6 Classy Western (Em 1) Allan McDonough  7 Franco Nelson Anthony Butt ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 8  Im Corzin Terror Dean Braun 9 Lennytheshark David Aiken 10 It Is Billy Michael Barby 11 Five Star Anvil Adam Kelly 12 Bling It On Belinda McCarthy 13 Cold Major David Aiken   By Trent Orwin   Reprinted with permission of racingbase.com site

Leading New Zealand harness racing trainer Mark Purdon has set his sights on Sydney and is set to hit the ground running this Friday when Our Waikiki Beach returns to Tabcorp Park Menangle. The son of Somebeachsomewhere won all of his twelve starts last season and will fly in on Wednesday with stablemate Our Dream About Me. Our Dream About Me is also undefeated and will take her spot in Saturday night's Raith Memorial at Menangle but Purdon has suggested his filly is not fully wound up. "There is a lot of improvement in her, she's big in condition and only had the one trial after a good break so I'd suggest she is a bit vulnerable," Purdon said. "She's in Sydney for the NSW Oaks and we've arrived early enough to give her the time to get some racing under her belt for that series." Star four-year-old pacer Have Faith In Me is set to fly into Australia on January 20th and will compete in the first Chariots Of Fire qualifier on January 23rd at Menangle. "Have Faith In Me has been good since the Auckland Cup, he had a couple of days off after that but I'm very happy with where he is at the moment. "He'll fly directly into Sydney, there looks to be a lot of good four year olds in Australia and it should be a very exciting series for them." Purdon was questioned about whether he would start Have Faith In Me in the Miracle Mile if he was successful in the Chariots Of Fire, with the winner gaining automatic entry. "Probably but I'll make my decision as he progresses, I wouldn't want to knock him around too much because I think he is going to be a serious horse on the Grand Circuit in coming years." Smolda may contest the Miracle Mile qualifiers on February 13 after his Victorian campaign but again Purdon will wait to see whether the horse is effected by several tough runs. "It is pretty tough on the horses with the Hunter Cup being on one week and the Miracle Mile qualifiers on the next because you have to keep in mind that the horses will have to travel up to Sydney and the weather could be extremely hot, it is a big ask, we'll wait and see. "Fight For Glory is coming over to Sydney as well to compete in the mares' races, she is tightly assessed over here so we'll see how she measures up." Greg Hayes

Lazarus is one of those all round racehorses that has plenty of weapons in his arsenal. He has speed to burn but can rough it as well so it gives his regular harness racing driver Mark Purdon so many options in his races. Today at Alexandra Park in the $200,000 PGG Yearling Sales 3 Year old final, Mark flew the gate early with Lazarus from barrier five to grab the early lead before handing up to his stablemate Chase The Dream with Natalie Rasmussen in the bike. Shandale worked to the death from his wide second line draw but he applied no pressure to Chase The Dream who got away with some quiet mid race sectionals which took a lot of the runners back in the field out of play. Natalie upped the ante from the 600 metres and applied the after burners passing the 400 metres mark. Lazarus was hard on Chase The Dreams back as they turned for home but it took him most of the straight to claim his stablemate close to home. Chase The Dream was gallant in defeat with Art Form grabbing third from Shandale after being three back on the inner the whole race. Lazarus paced the 2200 metres in 2:41.4, a mile rate of 1:58 with closing sectionals of 55.6 and the last 400 in a sensational 25.9 Todays win was the tenth for Lazarus at just his twelfth lifetime start and took his earnings just shy of $490,000. Mark Purdon was full of praise for the son of Bettor's Delight. " He is such a great little horse." " He has great manners and is so tractable which means he gives you a lot of options in his races. " He was just cruising today and felt like he could have gone a lot quicker." " He had to really knuckle down in the straight but he won it easily in the finish." " I think you would have to say that he is better that Chase The Dream this season,"  Mark said. Mark and Natalie have already mapped out a programme for Lazarus with his next main mission the Victorian Derby in which he will give the Australian horses plenty to think about. Harnesslink Media

The foreman at All Stars Racing Stables is the Canadian Duane Marfisi. Every so often he gives us his views on things at the most successful barn in new Zealand and the following is his latest offering.                                                                                     ***** Harness racing is not always what you expect it to be. On December 11 I thought we might win five up here. I was disappointed. We ran a lot of placings but we were kept to one win. Fortunately things got better from there. We have a team of 20 up here now. I start feeding up at 4.30 Tim and Shaun are here at 5 and the ground staff begin at 5.30. We work the team, clean up the barn and gear, set out the feed and stroll out about 12 to feed ourselves and re-energise. We are back at 1 to fetch the team out of the paddocks and start the second shift. We equisage most of them, putting them in the water walker for 40 minutes, brush bandage and fluff them so we are tired at the end of the day. But we are passionate about our work, we strive to win. Leading into the 18th December meet our master horseman joined us. It is a great pleasure to work with Mark Purdon. He is quiet, genuine and by far the best horseman I have had contact with. When I make that statement you have to to understand that I have placed myself with some great horseman over the years. Bill Robinson in the 1990's travelling the grand circuit and watching Brett Pelling and Kiwis dominate the next decade. Bill O'Donnell and John Campbell I was associated with in the 1980's and later with the likes of Tim Tetrick and Jody Jamieson. I was also fortunate enough to spend time with Stanley Dancer in his "last hurrah" , not to mention all the other great "behind the scenes" horsemen. So I do know what I am talking about. I love this life, its not work, its a passion. To wake up in the morning and do something you love is gold. The beauty of this game is to keep your mouth shut, keep your eyes open and ask questions. Most experienced horsemen are willing to share their knowledge. So now we head to the December 31st Premier meeting. Believe me these aching bones are going to try and win some races! Good luck to you all and remember to take a wee bit of time to enjoy Christmas and stay healthy and happy from then on. Duane Marfisi  -  All Stars Racing Stables

Roy Purdon is  entitled to be called the greatest harness racing trainer in our history, but he doesn't get to the races often these days. "I'm keeping well and get out to the stables of Tony and Barry in the mornings but my hips mean I can't stand up for any length of time so I can't get there as often as I would like" Roy said. But he will be at Alexandra Park at least once during the upcoming carnival because he has a horse to race. More The Better, the Bettor's Delight two year old who is All Stars's only two year old representative at the Auckland carnival as a step toward the Young Guns series is now co-owned with Mark Purdon by Roy and his long time friend Sir David Levene. "Mark selected him at the Sales and he and Natalie gifted me a share which was a great gesture." "I brought David in with me because we are old friends and have raced horses together before." "We didn't have any stars but this one certainly seems promising on what he has done so far," Roy said. While Roy is famous for the number of great horses he has produced over many years Sir David Levene was originally famous for his paint products, taking a family business from a one store shop in 1947 to over 100 through the country by the time the family sold out of the company in 1994. Since then David Levene, one of the original sponsors of Outward Bound and a long time supporter of many charities and Trusts such as for support of Parkinson's Disease has gained prominence he preferred to avoid as a major sponsor of golfer Lydia Ko in her amateur days. "We have known each other a long time" Roy said. "Margaret was a long time  friend of the girl David married." "Actually another sister married Graeme Douglas (Douglas Pharmaceuticals) ; Graeme and David were knighted the same day and neither of them knew the other one was getting the honour as well. "  "I am looking forward to seeing the horse racing." "I have been around too long to take anything for granted with horses but Mark seems very pleased with him at the moment" It has been a good start with a dashing trial last week at Rangiora and the trip north worried him not a jot. His head was in the feed bin as soon as he arrived and now a northern racenight is his next challenge His breeding-- More The Better is a breeder's dream-by siring sensation Bettor's Delight from a sister to Cristian Cullen and cost All Stars $62,500 as a yearling. He is also a half-brother in blood to Kates First. His dam is yet to really make her mark at stud but this is her first foal by Bettor's Delight. A colt by Art Major will be offered at the sales this season by the Radfords who have been so closely associated with this family. David McCarthy Reproduced with permission of All Stars Racing Stables   -   Check site here

Fight For Glory is on target to resume last season's battle with The Orange Agent. The pair dominated the Group I races for 3-year-old fillies last season and look likely to be major players in the Group I Queen of Hearts and Group III Breeders Stakes for mares at Alexandra Park next month. Mark Purdon, who co-trains Fight For Glory with Natalie Rasmussen, confirmed the two races will be the main aim after an impressive showing at the North Canterbury workouts where she ran second to Venus Serena by a neck on Wednesday. A decision on when the winner of more than $580,000 will travel to Auckland and her likely leadup races will come on Thursday, Purdon said after giving the Art Major mare's second hitout his tick of approval.  Fight For Glory was named Australian 3-year-old pacing filly of the year but was unanimously dumped out of that accolade on this side of the Tasman by The Orange Agent. Fight For Glory was a magnet for bad barrier draws in New Zealand last season which did not help her cause.  In her first trial back this season at Ashburton on November 17 she failed to finish off for third behind Here We Go Again. It was a much improved effort at Rangiora as Venus Serena clocked a 2:02.3 mile rate for the 2000m with the last quarter mile in 28.2. Fight For Glory is far from screwed down and is still carrying plenty of condition. The All Stars stable of Purdon and Rasmussen have suffered a blow with 3-year-old gelding Cash N Flow suffering a fracture in his near hind pastern that Purdon said would likely end his season. Geoff Dunn was much happier with Venus Serena from behind the mobile arm after her standing start manners put an end to her failed New Zealand Trotting Cup campaign. "She looked a lot more enthusiastic today," Dunn said. A decision on exactly what races the multiple Group I winner has left in her career will come on Thursday when connections hope to gain confirmation that she is in foal after being served by Art Major. Rocker Band flashed home late for third but trainer Mark Jones said she would stay in the South Island for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, David Butt who trains with wife Catherine, has confirmed Habibti will likely stay across the Tasman for three to four months. The Butts hold a share in the classy mare, who has bounced back from serious injury last season to run third in the Group I Dominion Handicap. She is now in the care of Victorian trainer Adam Kelly and will be driven by Gavin Lang. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ   -   Check site here

Didjamaken Bolt scored one of the great Addington Raceway comebacks when he outclassed his rivals in a 1.54 mile parked out on Show Day. In only his second start in two years for Merv and Meg Butterworth, Didjamakem Bolt had made a lapse at the start when resuming at Ashburton and also made a mistake at the trials. "I didn't want to be parked out ideally but I was aware he had made those mistakes and so I wanted to keep him balanced and with room." "After that even tho parked I thought he would be hard to beat" Mark Purdon said after the stable's 7th win at the carnival. "We will keep him down here over the holidays racing in events like the Ashburton Cup and those sort of races." "We have no long term plans for him just see how it comes" Hardly surprising. Didjamakem Bolt went amiss after a hugely impressive win in 2.18.6 for the 1950m, his fourth successive win. At that stage many, not excluding Mark, were thinking in terms of the New Zealand Cup this year. Alas his wind operation and leg injury was followed by more problems and he had had a slow buildup before resuming at Ashburton. Fortunately this prep has been almost incident free. "If ever a horse deserved this it is him" said Meg reflecting the patience the owners have shown with DJ because his great potential could not go unexplored. "A bigger thrill than winning the NZ Cup with Arden Rooney" Merv added. DJ is by the same sire as Smoken Up and looks as though he might have a similar durability all going well. Certainly his ability is right out of the ordinary-which is why Merv and Meg were not afraid to outlay big money for him at an early stage of his career. David McCarthy All Stars Racing Stables  -  Check site here

Before the Sires Stakes Final for harness racing three year olds at Addington today, the jury was out on who was the better of the two All Stars runners, Lazarus and Chase The Dream. Both had great records heading into today's race and many thought the the one that got the better run would prevail.   Chase The Dream worked to the front after 700 metres and was quickly joined by Lazarus 100 metres later.   These two great three year olds upped the tempo at the 400 metres and as they turned for home they had drawn clear of the field.   At that point Chase The Dream and Natalie Rasmussen shot clear by two lengths but they couldn't completely shake Lazarus.   Mark Purdon steadied Lazarus for a few strides and then asked him for his supreme effort.   Slowly but surely he wore Chase The Dream down and grabbed him just short of the post for a stunning victory with the rest of the field five lengths away.   When the overall time and sectionals were announced, the enormity of the win by Lazarus was revealed.   The 1950 metres was covered in 2:19..2, a mile rate of 1:54.8 with closing sectionals of 55.2 and 26.8.    It was a truly breathtaking prformance.   The connections of Lazarus have been involved in plenty of top horses but even they were blown away by the run.   "They just can't do that after the run he had."   "To run the last 400 metres in under 27 was unreal," Phil Kennard said.   Another part  owner Trevor Casey was just shaking his head.   "They are not meant to be able to go like that after getting a run like that'   "I am super happy because I have brought a half-sister to Lazarus and she has just had a filly by Bettor's Delight so it is a great day," Trevor said.   The run by Lazarus today was stunning and he looks the early favourite for the Derbies later in the season.     Harnesslink Media

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