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A little-known former New Zealand pacer has emerged as the key player in the A$500,000 Inter Dominion Pacing Final.  Because while former Southland pacer Galactic Star has had a top class career in West Australia, he would rarely have been on the radar of most New Zealand punters, even the serious harness racing players, until this Interdom series in Victoria.  Yet after drawing the ace for Saturday night’s 2760m final at Melton, the attitude of his connections could decide the race.  Galactic Star, who won four races in New Zealand two years ago when trained by Des Baynes, won his first night heat of this series using blazing gate speed and has been very good when placed in his subsequent two heats.  But his impact on the final outcome has been boosted enormously by him drawing barrier one, from where he looks certain to lead.  If driver Ryan Warwick wants to stay in front that will mean no shot at the lead for key front line runners Pat Delight (barrier three), Spankem (five) or Tiger Tara (seven).  It would almost certainly mean plenty of pressure to try and break him and potentially bring a horse like series points leader Cruz Bromac into contention after he fared poorly in the draw, copping the second line  But if Warwick and the Galactic Star’s connections decide the trail is the place to be then either of the well-favoured Kiwis, Pats Delight or Spankem, will fancy their chances of running to the front and therefore becoming the one to beat.   Spankem’s incredible rise throughout this series continued after the draw as he is now the $2.80 favourite for the classic just six weeks after punters could have got $41 for him to win it.  He has thrilled co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen with how he has bounced through his three heats but she has decided to stick with Cruz Bromac as her drive out of loyalty, having driven him five times for five wins.  That means training partner Mark Purdon takes the reins behind Spankem and gives him a shot at a unique piece of Inter Dominion history as he has won the last two pacing finals driving Smolda and Lazarus so could make it a three-peat on three different horses.  Spankem, who won only once last season as a three-year-old, is favourite over Pats Delight and Cruz Bromac still the third favourite even though his task looks enormously more difficult as he won’t be able to use his gate speed.  Gate speed and tactical decisions could also decide the A$150,000 Trotting Final on Saturday, which after the draw looks a two-horse race.  South Auckland trotter Speeding Spur has the advantage of barrier one giving co-trainer and driver Josh Dickie options of whether to stay in front or elects to trail favourite Tornado Valley.  The latter has drawn barrier six and may even have the raw speed to cross Speeding Spur but if the pair lead and trail it looks curtains for their rivals. (THESE FIELDS TO BE BROKEN OUT ON RUNNER PER LINE) The fields for the two Inter Dominion finals to be run at Melton on Saturday night are: $500,000 Inter Dominion Pacing Final, 2760m mobile, 11.45 (NZtime) 1: Galactic Star 2: Can’t Refuse 3: Im Pats Delight 4: Mach Doro 5: Spankem 6: Maximan 7: Tiger Tara 8: San Carlo (1 second line) 9: Cruz Bromac 10: Our Uncle Sam 11: Wrappers Delight 12: Audi Hare (em) 13: Cash N Flow A$150,000 Inter Dominion Trotting Final, 2760m, 11.08 NZtime 1: Speeding Spur 2: Monty Python 3: Save Our Pennys 4: Rompers Monarchy 5: Big Jack Hammer 6: Tornado Valley 7: Sky Petite 8: Illawong Armstrong (1 second line, em) 9: Tough Monarch 10: Kingdom Come 11: Kyvalley Blur 12: Wilmas Mate 13: Red Hot Tooth   Michael Guerin

Champion trainer Mark Purdon appears to hold all the aces at Alexandra Park tonight but he admits he doesn't know how most of those cards will fall. Purdon starts his annual northern summer assault at tonight's meeting while partner Natalie Rasmussen is tearing up the Inter Dominions in Victoria with Cruz Bromac and Spankem. Purdon will have the favourite in four races tonight, with the hottest certain to be champion filly Princess Tiffany, who returns in race three. "Like any horse coming back she will be better for the run and that always makes them vulnerable but on class she should still win," offers Purdon. But things get a bit more complicated after that, with the All Stars having multiple runners in the other three races. The most obvious appears to be the opening event where a race fit Jesse Duke clashes with last season's leading juvenile Another Masterpiece. "I think Jesse is the better chance because he is fit and I don't think Another Masterpiece would want to be taking him on this early in his campaign." But the battle between top mares Dream About Me and Elle Mac in the Breeders Stakes may not be as obvious as it looks, even though Dream About Me finished third in the NZ Cup last start and is favourite for the Auckland Cup. "I think Dream About Me deserves to be favourite on what she has done but I worked them together the other day and the way Elle Mac sprinted up the straight right alongside her there might not be much in it. "I honestly wouldn't be surprised if Elle Mac beat her." The standing start and racing luck could play the major role for not only Purdon's trio but all the big names in the $30,000 Summer Cup. The best performed horses like Jack's Legend are off 20m over 2200m and while that doesn't mean he can't win it does make him vulnerable to the tempo of the race especially if there are no mid-race moves and a 55-second last 800m off the front. Purdon says any of his trio Ashley Locaz, All U Need Is Faith or Sicario could win and the fact he has chosen to drive All U Need Is Faith over Sicario is not any guide to their chances. "They are all good four-year-olds who could win but the first thing is getting away safely and then who has the luck because I really can't choose between them." Add in On The Cards, Mach Shard, Northview Hustler and rejuvenated veteran Lets Elope and the race looks a beauty.   Michael Guerin

Mark and Natalie are hopeful that while Ultimate Machete won’t make the Auckland Cup field on December 31 he will be racing that night. He could be a starter in the Free for All on the same program at the moment only set for Elle Mac among All Stars runners. “He is progressing well enough for us to think he will make that race” Mark said “He would have a trial before hand and we are hoping he and Thefixer can be up in in Auckland later in the month” ‘They could then both go on to Australia after the Cambridge meeting where TheFixer is set down to have his next race” No risks were taken with Thefixer after his NZ Cup triumph because of the foot problem he had had leading up to that race. He has spent time on the water walker since but the good news is that there is no sign of any problem with the foot. He would also trial before heading north and then run in the Cambridge Flying Mile before heading to Australia. Ultimate Machete, one time Cup favourite, had his Cup plans aborted after he failed to fire in his final lead up races. He was suffering from a foot problem which has responded well to treatment. Given the current depth in open class ranks in Australia he would have been a major player in the Inter Dominion championships and certainly will be in races like the Victoria and Hunter Cups and other autumn features. No decision has been made on who else may venture to Australia as it will be determined by upcoming form Fingers crossed. Mark is very pleased with the way Enhance Your Calm has returned to full work. He resumed at the end of Cup week and is progressing well. “He looks magnificent. He has really done well with that break “ Mark noted   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/home/

New Zealand Cup hero Thefixer is out of the Auckland Cup.  And he will be joined on the sidelines for that December 31 classic by Ultimate Machete as the pair are instead aimed at Australian races in the New Year.  Trainer Mark Purdon will not enter the high-profile pair for the Alexandra Park feature when nominations close at 11am on Friday for different reasons.  Both horses have spent much of the last two weeks on the water walker at Stephen Boyd’s property and while Purdon is happy with their condition he thinks the Cup will come up too soon for Thefixer. “He had that time off to get his body over the New Zealand Cup win and we don’t want to rush him back,” said Purdon.  “To be ready for the Auckland Cup he probably would have needed to trial next week and I’d rather give him time, maybe go to the Cambridge Mile and then the Ballarat and Hunter Cups in Victoria and even on to the Miracle Mile.”Ultimate Machete missed the New Zealand Cup, for which he was the one-time favourite, and Purdon is reluctant to aim him at standing start races in the near future.  “He actually hurt himself when he galloped away one night and I wouldn’t want to risk that again because then his season could be over.  “So we will let him miss the Auckland Cup and look at the mobile races in Aussie.”  The Purdon-Rasmussen stable still has the two Auckland Cup favourites in Dream About Me and potential star Turn It Up while the likes of All U Need Is Faith, Ashley Locaz and Sicario are others who will be entered for the Cup.  The All Stars northern team arrives on Saturday and will also include Elle Mac for the Queen of Hearts, star three-year-olds Ultimate Sniper and Another Masterpiece and last season’s champion filly Princess Tiffany Michael Guerin

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/

Australian harness racing doesn’t have an overabundance of books written about its champions and the latest Our Mate Smolda by Marcus Kirkwood is more than a tome about one of the outstanding horses of the past decade – it is a book about the tragedies of life and the human spirit which overcomes these tragedies. Marcus Kirkwood has pottered about with pacers for some 40 years but harness racing took a backwards step as Marcus and his wife Sharon raised their four sons and looked after the family stock feed business. Their second son Tom was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a brain tumour at the age of nine not long after his older brother Sam finished treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Tom, who had a great love of horses, battled the tumour for nine years before losing the battle on the eve of his eighteenth birthday. Not long after Tom’s passing Marcus Kirkwood made the decision to again become involved in harness racing and began looking at yearlings by a stallion he had a soft spot for – Courage Under Fire. There were a number in the 2010 Melbourne Australian Pacing Gold catalogue and shortly thereafter he noticed an advertisement for a share in a Courage Under Fire yearling on Mark Purdon’s All Stars website. Intrigued, he enquired through the website. He was somewhat surprised when Mark Purdon called him and explained about the yearling and that while longtime clients Glenys and Philip Kennard and Neil Pilcher had taken two shares there was one available. It didn’t take Marcus long to begin what was to be the ride of his life. Fate plays a hand in a lot of horse stories and Smolda’s was no different. The colt had originally been sold and then a bid dispute saw him put back in the ring. Mark Purdon had already bought a yearling at the sale but it was for less than his budget and a single bid of $53,000 saw the Courage Under Fire NZ colt head across the Tasman for the first of some 14 flights across the ditch. Unraced as a two year old Smolda retired in 2017 in New Zealand as a rising nine year old with a record of 68 starts which yielded 32 wins and 23 placings and stakes of $2,558,544 in a career which included victory in the 2016 Inter Dominion Final at Gloucester Park. Those 32 wins included nine at Group One level and a host of annual honours including New Zealand 3yo Pacing Colt/Gelding of the Year, Australian Harness Horse of the Year and twice New Zealand Aged Pacing Horse/Gelding of the Year. Smolda set track records in the majority of his Group One wins and these came in New Zealand, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales which is in itself remarkable and in his second win in the Group One Ballarat Cup he became the only horse to beat Lennytheshark and Lazarus in the same race. Smolda was an eight year old at the time of this win and he was giving the four year old Lazarus some head start in terms of age. In Smolda’s 3yo campaign Mark Purdon decided that the now gelding would tackle the New South Wales Derby and Marcus felt that Smolda could become an ambassador for the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia and race in colours bearing the Institute’s logo. Not only was the Cancer Institute happy for their logo to be used and Marcus was delighted when his New Zealand partners in Smolda were delighted to be involved. Again fate seemed to have a hand in the matter as Glenys and Philip Kennard were longtime supporters of the Child Cancer Foundation New Zealand. Mark Purdon was also happy for his All Stars silks to be used as the basis for a set of Australian colours which incorporated the CCIA logo while also featuring the words “Our Mate Tom” on the cuffs. Not only has Smolda become the catalyst for Tom’s story being known across both islands of New Zealand and in five Australian States but the Kirkwood family, with the support of their community in Singleton in New South Wales, have raised more than $800,000 for fight against children’s cancer. Our Mate Smolda not only includes Marcus Kirkwood’s story about his champion but also features chapters from a number of people who have documented their memories of their mate Smolda. As for Smolda in retirement – he now resides on Marcus and Sharon Kirkwood’s property at Singleton in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. With an adoring owner who has a stock feed business and a paddock full of green grass life couldn’t be any better for Smolda and his mates. Our Mate Smolda can be purchased online from the website at a cost of $35 which includes postage in Australia https://www.ourmatesmolda.com.au/product/our-mate-smolda/ Alternatively copies will shortly be available from Garrards.   Alan Parker

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    

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

Shaun McNaulty fondly remembers sneaking out of school to get to St Arnaud's track and take in the trots and will return to the scene on Sunday for a "dream" tilt at the BSL/St Arnaud Sporting Club Trotters Cup. The 27-year-old Marong trainer, who grew up just a stone’s throw from St Arnaud at Logan, has fond memories of the track at which he was first exposed to the sport. “I remember wagging school one day, at the last ever meet (before the track closed for a while),” he said. “Me and my best mate wagged school so we could go watch it. We blamed the school for not being able to go to the trots. We got in trouble too. They knew we should have been in school.” McNaulty spent his early years in the industry at St Arnaud, acting as a board member for the club on his way to becoming a valued stablehand for some of the industry’s top trainers. In February he started his own stable, believing the time right to go out on his own. “I had worked for a couple of stables (including All Stars’ Mark Purdon) and I just thought if I’m going to be working I might as well be working for myself and putting in the hours into my own horses,” he said. “I sort of had three or four horses and I wasn’t spending time on them. I thought here’s my chance. I might as well go out on my own and have a crack.” He admitted running his own stable had been “bloody tough” but hoped it could all come together at the place it began on Sunday when Fratellino lines up in the BSL/St Arnaud Sporting Club Trotters Cup. “It would be a dream come true to win the cup, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s been my aim for the last 12 months.” McNaulty hoped to put a disappointing seventh in the Swan Hill Trotters Cup, of which he said he had worked the gelding too hard, behind him and outstay “a very even field”. “I think he’s chance (to win) but I’d be disappointed if he doesn’t run top three,” he said. McNaulty’s other starter, Rift Valley, had been scratched due to a “couple of little issues”, he said. He also hoped the return of St Arnaud’s Fabian Bigmore - in his first drive since March 19, 2005 - could give Fratellino the hometown edge.    “It would be great to see him get the chocolates.” McNaulty said a family connection to Bigmore’s grandfather, St Arnaud trainer Frank Evans, had prompted a call to the former driver, who only regained his licence this week. “When I was in St Arnaud I had a bit to do with Frank. We had our horses at his place and he taught me a lot. (Fabian) is the grandson of Frank, so I thought I reckon Frank will enjoy seeing him driving in the St Arnaud cup. “I rang him a week or so ago about the possibility and he said ‘if my licence comes through’. Thankfully it did, so we put him on.” It will be the first time Fratellino has contested a leg of this year’s $10,000 Maori’s Idol Trophy Series, which is led by Father Christmas and King Denny who scored maximum points when saluting at Kilmore and Swan Hill respectively. King Denny will start off 10m in Sunday’s cup and have a chance to not only take a significant stranglehold on the trotting championship but strengthen his hold on a starting place in December’s Inter Dominion. He is presently ranked 25th, having jumped from 68th place courtesy of a Swan Hill win. The $25,000 Trots Country Cups Pacing Championship is headed by San Carlo (10 points), Im The Boss (10 points) and Menin Gate (five points). None feature in Sunday’s Weir’s Supa IGA St Arnaud Pacing Cup but it bodes as a very competitive race, headlined by Kerryn Manning’s Motu Meteor and Kima Frenning’s New Zealand newcomer Buster Brady, who book end the field in gates 11 and one respectively. There will also be plenty of family-friendly activities on the day, with children able to enter for free and enjoy farm yard animals, a balloon sculptor, face painting and Pat Your HERO. More details: http://www.trotscountry.com.au/meeting/st-arnaud/   Mark Smith Trots Media

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/

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

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

Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen's success with ex-Australian pacers continued yesterday at Mt Harding racecourse when Cruz Bromac powered over the top of his rivals to win the Methven Cup by more than two lengths. The Falcon Seelster gelding was having his first start on the grass surface, a fact that did not worry his driver Natalie Rasmussen who commented on the All Stars website that the grass didn’t worry them because he is a good gaited horse. "He did scramble a bit early but that was probably getting used to the surface. "It was good to see him bouncing straight up with some form here. "We think he will probably go to the Kaikoura Cup. We have a huge week coming up and we expect to have 16 horses at Ashburton as well as some at Addington Friday and four at the trials on Wednesday," she said. Although the track was on the dead side the time for Cruze Bromac of 3-51.3 for the 3000m stand lowered the old track record held by Messini by nearly half a second, proving Cruz Bromac has what it takes to be a major force in the up-coming New Zealand Cup in November. The favourite for the race Star Galleria led for most of the way but weakened to only run third,while Forgotten Highway continued his good form and enhanced his Cup chances by running home well into second for driver Samantha Ottley.   Harnesslink Media

Natalie Rasmussen, the leading female driver in stakes won for the last five years is now free to drive at trials and on raceday. In a statement on the All Stars Website, Mark Purdon has said the RIU has reversed the decision on Natalie. "We were just getting on the plane home from Auckland when we got the news the RIU has reversed its decision and Natalie is free to drive at trials and raceday. "We were surprised it took this long but at least is happened and we can get on with it," he said. Rasmussen who has had an amazingly high UDR for the last several years is unbeaten with her drives so far this season, winning with her only two drives,both on Thefixer when he won his first two starts back this season. Rasmussen will drive the All Stars trained Eamon Maguire in the $50,000 Inkwise Canterbury Classic at Addington on Friday night after Thefixer was pulled out of the race with a minor foot problem.   Harnesslink Media and Courtesy of All Stars Website

The long wait for New Zealand's best trotter is almost at an end. But punters should be wary of backing comeback champ Monbet to win the $300,000 Dominion even though he will make his first public appearance in 22 months next week. The one-time Horse of The Year will finally make it back to the trials next Wednesday after having not raced, or even been to the workouts, since winning the Dominion at Addington in 2016. Monbet has struggled with leg problems since and had stem cell surgery which has resulted in a so far, so good prognosis. "He had his latest scan last Saturday and the vets said he was good to go to the next stage," said Ben Hope, whose parents Greg and Nina train Monbet. Monbet may head to the Flying Mile at Ashburton, a race he won fresh up two years ago, on October 22 before the Cup carnival. But while he is the $3.90 for the Dominion on November 16, Hope says Monbet is no certainty to start in New Zealand's richest trot even if he remains sound. "It could be a case where he goes to the Mile at Ashburton and the Free-For-All on Cup day but the Dominion is unsure at this stage," explains Hope. Even more unlikely is the Inter Dominion in Victoria. "That isn't something he is being aimed for at this stage and he is more likely, all going well, to head to Auckland with Enghien to campaign up there." Enghien will miss the Cup carnival as he has only started fast work and is being given plenty of time to find his feet as a five-year-old. The Hope stable, of which junior driver Ben is basically a third partner in the family training business, have been pleased with the two outings this season of New Zealand Cup contender AG's White Socks. He was caught late by Dream About Me after leading in the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru last Sunday and while they believe he is probably a better horse following, they wanted to stay in front last Sunday to earn some respect. The road to the New Zealand Cup gets busier over the next week, with favourite Ultimate Machete having his third trial this campaign at Rangiora yesterday while Harness Jewels winners Eamon Maguire returned for his first. Both pleased trainer Mark Purdon enough although Ultimate Machete did miss getting away properly, not as badly as he did in his first trial two weeks ago, but enough to make punters nervous as he is the favourite for the Cup. Star Galleria headlines the next Cup lead-up race at Alexandra Park tomorrow night.   Michael Guerin

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