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Smolda  is on track to resume at Addington next week without a public trial going into the race. "There doesn't seem to be much point in waiting for a trial." "You could end up with three other horses of lesser grade and get no more out of it than you would get at home" Mark Purdon said. Smolda will be following -at least initially-the same path as Adore Me in winning last year's Cup going on to the Flying Stakes at Ashburton before a decision is made whether he needs another race. While he had quite a long spell after it, Smolda was kept up to the collar with a winter campaign in Sydney and Brisbane and should bounce back fairly quickly. Meanwhile other stars from the barn are getting ready for a return to racing Chase the Dream Was further back than he has ever been in a trial when fourth in a 3.02.4 2400m heat at Ashburton Tuesday but there was no cause for concern. "We probably had the hopples a bit short for one thing, he was looking to stretch out more but he was fine in terms of condition" Natalie Rasmussen said. All the team save perhaps Snakes n Ladders got the big tick and five are likely to be racing at Addington on Friday week. Snakes and Ladders finished well back but no real cause for concern at this stage. Superfecta is the All Stars only Futurity nominee at the Cup meeting and he won his qualifying heat (3:02: 56.6/27.5 in style) Cash n Flow  who looked so promising last term won in 3.04.8 (56.3: 26.5) and is poised for a Sires heat next week. Stroke of Luck  was beaten a half head in 3.04.6 (57.7/26.7)  and is ready to race now. All Star Angus  carried on from the promise of last season running second in 3.16 (58.4/28.7)  and will trial again soon. David McCarthy - All Stars Racing Stable  -  Check site here    

New Zealand teenager Nathan Purdon, son of champion trainer-reinsman Mark Purdon, will make his first appearance in Western Australia when he drives at the harness racing meeting in Kalgoorlie on Friday night. He arrived in Perth on Sunday afternoon and will travel to the Goldfields on Thursday evening before he drives Grandpa Jim for Wayne Justins and Kinda Black, Ima Tragedy and Bounty Eyre for leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond. His best prospect appears to be Kinda Black, who will start from the back line in the 2150m Lion Appreciation Pace. Kinda Black has struck top form recently and has won at four of his past six starts. The 19-year-old Purdon will work as a stablehand for the Bond stable in a bid to gain experience at both training and driving pacers. He has spent the past six months working for prominent Queensland horseman Ian Gurney, trainer of outstanding pacer Avonnova, and a couple of years ago he spent a year working for Christchurch trainer Cran Dalgety. Purdon has driven eight winners from 60 drives in New Zealand and he had 145 drives in Queensland for 31 wins and 22 placings. Ryan Warwick will be in charge of the Bond stable’s nine runners in Kalgoorlie on Friday night and this team and 16 runners from Courtney Burch’s stable look set to dominate the eight-event program. Burch made an outstanding start to the Kalgoorlie carnival last Friday night when she prepared six winners, four seconds and one third. Purdon, whose first winner was behind Arden Rooney in a junior drivers’ event in Rangiora in October 2013, has had the thrill of driving former champion pacers Auckland Reactor and Adore Me in trackwork and in trials in New Zealand. “It was a real honour to drive Auckland Reactor and Adore Me,” he said. “I have driven on most tracks, including a few grass tracks, in New Zealand and I’m looking forward to the experience of driving in Kalgoorlie.” by Ken Casellas

Our Waikiki Beach has dominated two year old racing in Australia this year and is the clear favourite for NSW 2yo colt/gelding of the year. The son of Somebeachsomewhere won eight races in New South Wales for his New Zealand trainer Mark Purdon including two group one events at Tabcorp Park Menangle, the Australian Pacing Gold Final and the Breeders Challenge. With the horse being trained by Purdon, only the gelding's performances in New South Wales can be considered however his dominance has not been seen since Lombo Pocket Watch racked up 17 wins as a two year old in 2005/06. The other nominations for this year's NSW 2yo colt/gelding of the year are: Bettermatch - Dominated the early season 2yo racing scoring in a blistering 1:55.8 on debut. Also won the Leeton Breeders Plate and produced a huge win at Tabcorp Park Menangle to win in 1:53.6. Born To Rocknroll - Raced 16 times as a two year old and recorded seven victories. Won nearly $175,000 in the season and only had his first start in a race on February 7. Salty Robyn - Performed well in New South Wales and then took on the best in New Zealand representing Australia at the Harness Jewels. Banked more than $60,000 and recorded a season best of 1:53.9 Shadow Runner - Sam Dimarco, his daughter Marissa and Shadow Runner were the stars of the Bathurst Gold Crown carnival. The Shadow Play youngster won four straight early in the season before finishing fourth in the Breeders Challenge. The NSW 2yo of the year award will be presented at the HRNSW Awards Night at Doltone House, Darling Harbour on September 19. For tickets contact Nancy O'Grady on 9722 6600. Greg Hayes

On course on Sunday afternoon at the Australasian Breeders Crown finals at Tabcorp Park Melton, the one slightly disappointing run from a Kiwi perspective was undoubtedly that of Follow The Stars. After working early and then getting a lovely run on the back of Menin Gate for the remainder of the race, most expected him to boom home along the passing lane and claim a victory over his arch nemesis Menin Gate. Especially given that My Kiwi Gate had dished it up to Menin Gate for most of the last lap and looked to have Menin Gate in trouble on the corner However Follow The Stars showed nothing initially when moved into the passing lane but half way down he seemed to get a second wind and charged home late for second to Menin Gate who showed all his usual toughness in the straight when looking in trouble on the bend. Post race it has now emerged that Follow The Stars had suffered a tendon tear during the Breeders Crown Final which obviously affected his performance. "Its a 10 per cent tear which means he will be off the scene for a few months" Mark Purdon said There has been a bit of interest in Follow The Stars as a stud prospect in Australia and negotiations are ongoing. Harnesslink Media

Contrary to rumours circulating on the future of All Stars Stable, the training partnership and professional relationship between Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen will continue. "We are still very good friends and we have a strong working relationship, " Natalie said. "That  means we will be able to carry on business as usual at the stable without any problems irrespective of any  personal issues " Mark, who is holidaying in Queensland with sons Michael and Nathan this week, echoed those thoughts and expressed a wish for privacy regarding the couple's personal life. "It is a difficult time but as far as owners and associates are concerned we want them to know the training partnership remains the same as it has been throughout our most successful season  " he said He emphasised that no third party was involved in their  situation. Natalie added that it was important that the balance of skills the pair bring to All Stars would continue. "Individually Mark and I bring different strengths to what is a large organisation in business terms and we expect that to continue" Mark and Natalie have managed All Stars Stable together since 2011 and have achieved unparalleled success as a partnership in the seasons since. David McCarthy - All Stars Racing Stable  -  Check site here

Leading harness racing trainer Mark Purdon is always fairly reserved in his judgements when asked to rate his horses so when he labels one of his charges a "champion" it pays to take notice. That horse was Our Waikiki Beach who showed tremendous courage today in the $288,000 Woodlands Stud two year old colts and geldings Breeders Crown final at Tabcorp Park Melton.   Wide early from the outside of the gate, Mark Purdon continued to press forward in search of the lead.   But Born To Rocknroll with Luke McCarthy in the bike had already found the front and wasn't in the mood to hand up.   The two star juveniles went toe to toe for three hundred metres before Luke took a trail with Born To Rocknroll.   Shadow Sax found the chair soon after and then Zee Dana worked around and gave him one by one cover.   Off the back Mark Purdon upped the tempo again and as they straightened for home he put a break on his pursuers.   Mark gave him a couple to keep his mind on the job as he cruised home for an emphatic win.   After the early duel, Born To Rocknroll showed real gameness to stick on for second in front of Shadow Sax.   Our Waikiki Beach paced the 2240 metres in a real smart 2:42, a mile arte of 1:56.4 with closing sectionals of 58.3 and 28.7.   It was the son of Somebeachsomewhere's twelfth consecutive win from twelve starts and took his stake earnings to $510,427   Mark Purdon was all smiles post-race.   "He was really tested today but he came through it in great style..   "I thought he might be a bit vulnerable late after all the work he had done early but when I asked him he really lifted.   "I think he deserves to be called a champion after the season he has had and that run today, Mark said     Harnesslink Media

Harness racing is always in need of pin up starts and in the outstanding filly Our Dream About Me they have one of the highest class. A warm favourite in the $288,000 Betterthacheddar@Alabar Breeders Crown final for two year old fillies at Tabcorp Park Melton, Dream about Me still had some hurdles to overcome to justify that favouritism. Drawn out in the carpark on the second line, Our Dream About Me pushed through her way through early and got onto the three wide- line for driver Mark Purdon. Finding the chair outside the talented Hot Shot Woman and Robbie Morris after 700 metres, Mark Purdon was content to sit parked and applied no pressure to the leader. Going past the 800 metres, Robbie Morris pressed the go button on Hot Shot Woman and she burned down the back straight in 27.9. Momentarilary Our Dream About Me looked in a spot of trouble but when Mark asked her for the big effort, she lifted like the star she is and went to the line an easy winner. Hot Shot Woman went super but just found one better on the day while Zibibbo after trailing the whole way ran third. A minor highlight of the race was the run of Get In The Groove who after being three wide for the last round finished on gamely for fourth. Our Dream About Me paced the 2240 metres in 2:43.6, a mile rate of 1:57.5 with closing sectionals of 55 and 27. It was the eighth win from eight starts for the daughter of Bettor’s Delight and took her stake earnings to $403,877 Mark's smile is getting wider and wider as the day goes on here at Tabcorp Park. "That was a great run today after all the work she did." "I thought Hot Shot Woman was the filly to be wary of so I was keen to get handy to her as I could early. "She really found when I asked her and won like the great filly she is. "She has that X factor that separated the good horses from the great ones," Mark said. Harnesslink Media

The first of the Group 1 races today at Tabcorp Park Melton was the $84,000 Aldebaran Park Two Year old trotting fillies final and the All Star juggernaut started the day as expected with a smart win.   The outstanding filly High Gait has had a great juvenile season with just one nose defeat blotting an otherwise perfect season.   Today from barrier one she looked to have a mortgage on the race if she held the front for driver Mark Purdon and although briefly challenged by Smile Smile Smile, High Gait comfortably held the front early.   Mark Purdon was able to set a sedate lead time but slowly wound up the tempo from the 1600 metres and from the half upped it even more.   Parisian Chic settled back early from her wide draw for Blake Fitzpatrick before circling the field to sit outside High Gait from the 1200 metres mark.   Mark continued to up the tempo off the back and skipped clear by a length as they straightened.   Everybody at this point thought Missandei and Anthony Butt who had trailed High Gait the whole way would put real pressure on the leader up the passing lane but she only battled the last bit and High gait went to the line a comfortable winner yet again.   Parisian Chic was very brave in defeat with Missandei held on for third.   High Gait trotted the 2240 metres in 2:50.9, a mile rate of 2:01.6 with the last 800 metres in 57.9 and 28.3   it was High Gait's eighth win from just nine starts and it took the daughter of Muscles Yankee stake earnings to $151,450.   Mark Purdon was full of praise for the filly's win.   " She is such a natural two year old and that is what you need to be competitive in these sorts of races."   " She does everything right and is such a wee professional and that is a big plus," Mark said.   High Gait     Harnesslink Media

Star harness racing two year old Our Waikiki Beach was at microscopic odds to make it eleven straight in his semi final of the Australasian Breeders Crown for colts and geldings at Ballarat tonight and he didn't disappoint. The upstanding Australian bred but New Zealand owned and trained son of Somebeachsomewhere had drawn perfectly at barrier 4  and driver Mark Purdon didn't rush him early as Zee Dana with Nathan Jack in the bike burnt the gate from barrier 7 to lead early before taking a trail behind Waikiki Beach after 400 metres. Mark Purdon kept up a solid tempo without breaking any track records and everybody was still in touch with the hot favourite at the 400 metres mark. Mark Purdon gave his charge a little bit more rein as they straightened and he quickly shot clear and coasted down to the line an easy winner. The son of Tintin In America in Zee Dana battled on well for second after his early burn while Catcha Lefty (Village Jasper) made ground late for third. Mark Purdon was all smiles post race. " He was a bit fresh tonight and a bit keen so he will definitely improve off tonights run." " He felt really good and strong tonight so I am very happy heading into the final," Mark said When asked to compare Our Waikiki Beach with some of the other great two year olds he has trained Mark Purdon gave a very qualified reply. " I wouldn't say Our Waikiki Beach is the best two year old I have trained but he is right up there with the best ones I have had," Mark said On tonights performance It is hard to see how they beat Waikiki Beach in the Breeders Crown final next Sunday. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing enthusiasts on both sides of the Tasman couldn't wait for the showdown this evening at Ballarat in a Breeder's Crown semi-final between the star Australian two year old filly Heavens Trend and her brilliant New Zealand counterpart, Dream About Me. Heavens Trend, a daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven drew the coveted barrier one over the 2200 metres while the daughter of Bettor's Delight, Dream About Me drew awkwardly at barrier three on the second line. The first surprise was at the start where Heavens Trend was beaten for early speed. Gavin Lang had her quickly off the markers and let her work her way to the front after 500 metres. Mark Purdon meanwhile had maneuvered Dream About Me through the traffic and slotted onto the back of Heavens Trend early and then got cover from Jilliby Jitterbug when that filly came around to sit outside of Heaven's Trend. Passing the 400 metres mark, Gavin Lang said go and Heavens Trend put a wee gap between her and the opposition with Mark Purdon coming in to it three wide with Dream About Me. We looked set up for a tight finish when all of a sudden Heavens Trend veered sideways with 120 metres to go and lost all momentum and any winning chance. It was very reminiscent of her run at Albion Park two starts ago where she did exactly the same thing. Dream About Me swept on bye with minimal urging from Mark Purdon and went on for a comfortable win from a smart finisher in the Shadow Play filly Zibibbo who was one of the rank outsiders in the field at $139 to one while the Bettor's Delight filly Soho Madeleine made ground late for third. Dream About Me paced the 2200 metres in 2:40.7, a mile rate of 1:57.6 with smart closing sectionals of 55.8 and 27.4. Dream About Me is now unbeaten in seven lifetime starts and took her stake earnings to $229,632. Regardless of where she draws in the final, Dream About Me is now the filly they all have to beat. Harnesslink Media

Pinjarra harness racing trainer Michael Brennan has completed arrangement for exciting gelding Nathans Courage to travel to Victoria to contest the rich Breeders Crown for two-year-old colts and geldings. Brennan will accompany Nathans Courage on a flight from Perth next Tuesday week and Chris Voak will drive the son of Courage Under Fire in a semi-final of the Breeders Crown at Ballarat the following Saturday night. Brennan is hopeful that Nathans Courage, a stylish all-the-way winner at Gloucester Park at his only two starts, will qualify to run in the $288,000 final at Melton on Sunday August 30. "He should go well," Brennan said. "He's a lovely little horse, a professional racehorse and he's so relaxed." Two of Nathans Courage's most serious rivals appear to be Our Waikiki Beach and Zee Dana. Our Waikiki Beach, trained by New Zealander Mark Purdon, is unbeaten at his ten starts and has amassed $324,081. He sped over the final quarters in 27.1sec. and 27.8sec. and rated 1.56.3 when he scored a four-length victory in a heat of the Breeders Crown over 2300m at Menangle on July 21. He won the group 1 Australian Pacing Gold, covering the 1609m journey in 1.54.3 at Menangle in April and he won the 1609m NSW Breeders Challenge final in 1.53.7 at Menangle in June. Zee Dana notched his second win from three starts when he sat behind the pacemaker and finished strongly along the sprint lane to win a heat of the Breeders Crown at a 1.58 rate over 2190m at Shepparton on Tuesday night. Ken Casellas

High Gait who was denied in the Harness Jewels by former stablemate Missandei gained a deserved reward when she led all the way in the Redwood Classic at Maryborough on Sunday. The race was probably won at the start when the filly was guided away safely from the stand by Mark Purdon and headed straight for the front. Sundon's Courage took the favourite on but she was too strong with Missandei reversing the Jewels finish with a late run for second. "She went terrific" Mark said. "The other horse was niggling at us a bit in the middle stages but she was always trotting well and that made the difference." High Gait continued a great run for the All Star barn in Group One races in Australia this winter. She has her next outing in a qualifier for the Breeders Crown in two weeks. It is Mark's third training and driving win in the race with Galleon's Assassin and My Arya previous winners. Mark also expressed pleasure at the run of Classical Art on Saturday night  who was run down late by All Black Stride which trailed all the way and won by a head. "I was really pleased with the way she went." "She steered good  and did everything right and that was probably more important than whether or not she won," Mark said. Classical Art runs in the semi finals of the BC on August 22. David McCarthy Reproduced with permission of All Stars Racing Stables - Check site here  

Master harness racing trainer Mark Purdon became a two-time Seelite Windows and Doors Redwood Classic winner today at Maryborough. Purdon’s rising star filly High Gait produced a flawless performance in the 2190-metre stand-start Group 1 to score a 2.7-metre win in a mile rate of 2:06.3. High Gait is by Muscles Yankee out of quality producer Regal Volo. She is a full-sister to Breeders Crown winner Our Twentyten. High Gait’s 65secs first half set the filly up to dash home. She got home in 58.4secs, holding off runner-up Missandei comfortably with Sundons Courage third. High Gait has won six races from seven starts, her only defeat coming when second in the Harness Jewels at Ashburton. by Cody Winnell

Harness racing fans in Australia are getting use to seeing those blue colours with the grey stars at their meetings and the seemingly endless production line of high class horses that the All Star barn bring over from New Zealand. The latest horse from the champion barn to head across the Tasman is this years leading two year old trotter in High Gait. The winner of five from six in New Zealand this season and only beaten by half a head in the other race, High Gait was given a look at Menangle on Tuesday afternoon at the trials. Starting in a two year old pacing event, Mark Purdon settled the daughter of Muscles Yankee three back on the inner early as Its Inevitable and Michael Muscat set a quick tempo in front with Hell Bent and Kevin Pizzuto in the trail. These three slipped away from the rest of the field as they turned for home with Hell Bent challenging Its Inevitable strongly but High Gait was jogging in behind the leader and never saw daylight when full of running. The run itself had plenty of merit but when the time was announced of 1:55.5 for the winner Its Inevitable, the run of High Gait grew in statue. She was timed in 1:55.8 with closing sectionals of 56.8 and 27.7 and she clocked that while looking to have something in reserve. Her goal on the trip is the Australasian Breeders Crown and on Tuesday's run, she is without doubt the one to beat. Another All Star runner to have a hit out prior to racing next week was Dream About Me. Allowed to drop out to last in a small four horse field, she sprinted home hard held in 26.2 and looks ready to carry on her winning ways next week. Harnesslink Media  

Waikiki Beach may be the pack leader when it comes to future harness racing breeding crosses likely to dominate our breeding in years to come but he won't be the first made popular by performances of All Star horses. Waikiki Beach is the product of a Somebeachsomewhere-Bettor's Delight cross. It was always a dream come true for breeders on paper but now it seems it might become a reality with this colt's unbeaten run to date in two year old features. Truth be told Mark was probably a little leery of Somebeachsomewhere stock before this one came along. While we only had a small sample in this country at that stage,horses by the sire at All Stars had tended to be a bit wilful once they got on the racetrack. They were, and probably to some extent still are, best when allowed their high cruising protential and front. Some  have proven a challenge when asked to race under restraint until the whips start to crack. It might be fair to say that Mark may not have bought Waikiki Beach along with  Trevor Casey and his old associate Neil Pilcher if he had not been out of a Bettor's Delight mare. "That definitely influenced me." "They are such great all round horses and they are a relaxed breed." "Some of the Somebeachsomewhere's I had had and seen were a bit headstrong." "We had Someardensomewhere for example who wanted to run freely in front and could be difficult to drive in a field." "He had the ability but in our racing you need good racing manners and that is what Bettor's Delight has given us." "But this bloke is no problem." "He likes to run in front because he is better than most of them but as he showed in the Breeder's Challenge Final he can run in the field just as well" Waikiki Beach is the only two year old by his sire to race in New Zealand from a Bettor's Delight mare but there more in the pipeline including one interesting foal from Southwind Arden. Cyclone Betty  the dam of Waikiki Beach won a Breeders Crown heat but never set the world alight. Back a generation it was a different story. Matt's Claim, Waikiki Beach's 3rd dam by Windshield Wiper who trialled in 1.53.4 was a top producer. To one of the great "knockabout"  "made my own way" stallions, Classic Garry, she left 1992 Two Year Old of the Year, Chandon who was also an outstanding three year old in Perth. Then came Salinger the 1997 Australian Three Year Old of the Year. Ironically a less sensational foal, Sorryimstuttering never broke two minutes but was a sister to Princess Kenru the dam of Cyclone Betty so that blood came out too. Like a lot of top Australian performers there is a breeding link to New Zealand. Waikiki Beach's family goes back more than a century in this country and in its earlier days in the 1920's produced the outstanding  Talaro which later won an Auckland Cup. The mares in this family were poor foal getters and it almost died out in the 1940's but its basic class meant  it kept coming back. The mare given founding credit for the family in New Zealand, Golden Bond, (Australia opts correctly for an earlier dam Boudre) had only one foal Millimetre and her line bred on. There was a strong trotting influence in the family in its earlier days. In Volometre  (Gaillard) it produced an important link for she was the dam of  Elsinore the dam of the outstanding Robalan In the 1950's Petite Yvonne, a daughter of Millimetre's daughter Centimetre, a half sister to Volometre was an outstanding racemare in New Zealand in an era of giants and when mare's has to take their changes in open races. Another influence from the family was Noble Chief who figured in the breed of horses Keith Powell made famous from his Westport base. Currently the "Norwegian Wood" branch has done well and earlier produced Lennon for All Stars which no doubt Mark also recalled.  At this year's sale $100,000 was given for a Christian Cullen colt from Blackbird Fly a black type mare from this tribe, and a similar price (by Robert Dunn) for a "Somebeach" colt from the closely related Free As a Bird offered by Stephen Hammar and Don Bates. This was the only branch of the family offered at the Yearling Sales this year. Waikiki Beach has an unlimited horizon at the moment and he guarantees the Somebeachsomewhere outright speed cross with the all round skills of Bettor's Delights will be highlights of future sales. Similarly Highview Tommy  was one of the first highly performed sons of Bettor's Delight (if not the first) to show that that stallion's cross with Christian Cullen produced great mix of speed and  stamina and the cross, as might have been expected anyway, is now a verypopular cross if yet to produce one as valuable as he was. Highview Tommy now stands alongside his sire and a stallion career could beckon also for Waikiki Beach if he continues his outstanding run of form. David McCarthy - All Stars Racing Stables - Check site here

New Zealand's best harness racing two year old filly Dream About Me had her first look at Menangle yesterday in a tame workout as she heads towards the Breeders Crown series. Without doubt the best two year old filly seen in New Zealand for a few seasons, Dream About Me is unbeaten to date but faces some real competition across the Tasman as she trys to keep her unbeaten record in tact. The half sister to Christen Me and three quarter sister to Adore Me has inherited all the family ability but the clash with the outstanding Rock N Roll Heaven filly Heavens Trend 1:52.1 is something to really look forward to. The All Stars team has been reinforced lately as they turn their attention to the Breeders Crown series. The latest addition to the team is the big Mach Three three year old filly Classical Art who has tended to live in the shadows of The Orange Agent and Fight For Glory most of the season but the free going filly would seem ideally suited by the Australian style of racing. As is normal these days Greg Hayes caught up with Mark Purdon after yesterdays trial and that interview is enclosed here. Harnesslink Media  

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