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Glamour three-year-old, Chase Auckland returned to the stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen on Monday, 11 June. He’s reported to be looking a picture and is ready start work to build towards his four-year-old season. The star son of Auckland Reactor last stepped on to a racetrack on the 9th of March when he scored an emphatic victory in the Group 1 Woodlands Northern Derby at Alexandra Park. He was then put aside due to curbing a hock. Even though his untimely minor injury meant he missed the NZ Derby and Harness Jewels, Chase Auckland will still be a short priced favourite to win the NZ Three-Year-Old of the Year title. Owned by the Alabar Racing Syndicate he won 8 of 9 starts including other eye-catching victories in the Group 1 NZ Sires Stakes Final (3yo colts and geldings) and, New Zealand’s richest race for three-year-olds, the NZ Yearling Sales Series Final. With $392,329 in stakes he was the second only to Lazarus as the highest stake earner in New Zealand for the season. The delight of the Alabar Racing Syndicate members was one of the feel-good stories of the harness racing season. No doubt the syndicate members, their supporters and harness racing followers in general will be counting down the days until his return. Even in the absence of his flag bearing son, Auckland Reactor has continued to build on his early siring success. With two new two-year-old winners in the last week, Auckland Reactor is now up to seven individual two year-old winners for the season – all of which are in Australia. These new winners were Heir To Zanzibar at Mildura and Watch Me React in 1:59.5 at Narrogin. They boost Auckland Reactor up to an impressive 41 individual winners to date in his burgeoning career. They include two Group 1 winners and one Group 1 placegetter. Three of his winners have won in sub-1:55 and 28 have won in sub-2:00.   Alabar Stud  

Eamon Maquire has capitalized on a great trip in the running to win the harness racing Gr1 $150,000 4yo Emerald today at Cambridge Raceway. Driven superbly by driver Natalie Rasmussen, the Art Major four year old had a great run in the one by one behind A G's White Socks who sat parked while Tiger Thompson ran them along in front. In the straight A G's White Socks hit the lead but could not withstand the finish from Eamon Maquire and Star Galleria, with Eamon Maquire coming out on top by half a length from Star Galleria with a further length back to A G's White Socks in third. Part owner Graeme Anderson  who trained Eamon Maquire for the early part of his career was jubilant after the race saying it was a no-brainer giving the horse to Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen to train. "We have a small team and can not travel so giving the horse to Mark and Natalie was a no brainer to me. "I am grateful to them for the job they do. They are quite good at it you know,'" he joked. "The horse has always had a lot of high speed and we just had to wait for him to develop, but he will be a better horse in twelve months time," he said. Natalie Rasmussen gave a lot of the credit to Graeme Anderson after the race for the way the horse had been developed. "We got this horse in such good condition and we did not have to do much with him. " I have joked to Graeme he is not getting him back," she said. Eamon Maquire paced the mile in1-51.9 with a final 800m in 56.1 and the 400m in 27.4 seconds. Interview with Graeme Anderson Eamon Maguire   ALLIED SECURITY 4YO EMERALD (MOBILE PACE) (Gr1), $150,000, 4YO GELDINGS & ENTIRES, 1609m   For 4-year-old pacing geldings & entires. Video  Weather: Overcast     Track: Fast      Race History     Plc Bk Horse Barrier Hcap Stakes Fav Time Margin Driver Trainer 1 10 Eamon Maguire 10 fr 75,000.00 1/1 1-51.9   N C Rasmussen M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen 2 11 Star Galleria 11 fr 22,500.00 2/3 1-52.0 0.50 Z E Butcher S J Reid 3 2 A G's White Socks 2 fr 15,000.00 3/2 1-52.2 1.50 R T May G P & Mrs N M Hope 4 9 Black Chevron 9 fr 6,375.00 9/8 1-52.6 3.30 J H Abernethy D B Gale 5 1 Northview Hustler 1 fr 4,735.00 6/5 1-52.7 3.90 A P T Poutama R W Green 6 12 Billy Badger 12 fr 3,770.00 7/7 1-52.7 4.00 J R Dunn R J Dunn 7 5 Tiger Thompson 5 fr 3,770.00 4/4 1-52.8 4.10 M J Williamson B K Mowbray 8 6 Italian Delight 6 fr 3,770.00 8/11 1-52.9 4.60 T A Cameron (J) A G Herlihy MNZM 9 8 Check In 8 fr 3,770.00 12/10 1-53.2 6.50 D J Butcher S G Telfer 10 7 Royal Bengal 7 fr 3,770.00 11/12 1-54.0 10.50 B G Barclay K & T Barron 11 4 Classie American 4 fr 3,770.00 10/9 1-54.3 11.60 T W Mitchell R D Richardson 12 3 Run Boy Run 3 fr 3,770.00 5/6 1-55.2 16.10 D J Dunn M P Kerr $150,000.00   Scratchings SCR 13 Somewhereinbrooklyn 13                     Divs: $2.40. $1.30. $1.40. $1.40. Quinella $3.30. Trifecta $12.90. TAB Double[races-6,7]:(5,10) $6.70. TAB Conc.:(5,11) $4.00. First4 $163.80. Margins: 1/2 length, 1 length, 1 3/4 lengths Times: Mile Rate: 1-51.9 Last 800m: 56.1 Last 400m: 27.4 Placed Horses:       Eamon Maguire 2013 4 B g Art Major - Kim Maguire   (by In The Pocket)    Trainer: M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen, Rolleston    Owner: B D Sceats, G J Anderson, R Chalklin, S R Pulley, A D Gow, Mrs P P Gillan    Breeder: R L Kennedy,Mrs D C Kennedy    Star Galleria 2013 4 B g Art Major - Starlitnight   (by Tuapeka Knight)    Trainer: S J Reid, Pukekohe    Owner: R N Caldow, S J Reid, J A Screen, Mrs T C Screen    Breeder: R N Caldow    A G's White Socks 2013 4 B g Rock N Roll Heaven - Atomic Gold   (by Soky's Atom)    Trainer: G P & Mrs N M Hope, Woodend Beach    Owner: G P Hope, P G Laboyrie, P I Baken, Mrs V M Robertson, W R Stewart, Mrs C L Stewart, A R Pullar, Mrs B E Pullar    Breeder: P G Laboyrie

Relaxing at a Marlborough vineyard sounds like a lovely way to spend a couple of days. Unless you are supposed to be 800km away preparing two of the favourites for today's Harness Jewels at Cambridge. Welcome to the week of trainer Greg Hope, the man behind Enghien and A G's White Socks, who have the draws and group one records to both win their four-year-old Jewels today. Enghien is a genuine open class trotter up against mainly intermediate grade horses while A G's White Socks beat key rivals Eamon Maguire and Star Galleria in the Taylor Mile six weeks ago. But their week has hardly gone to plan after their Cook Strait ferry crossing was cancelled on Sunday and they had to spend three unexpected nights in Marlborough until they crossed on Wednesday, getting to Cambridge that night. "The first day we just jogged them around the grape vines at my sister's farm in Seddon, where we stayed," says Hope. "It was a bit different but I kinda think they enjoyed it. "And then we worked them properly at the Waterlea track on Tuesday so they haven't actually missed any major work." Hope's main concern was whether the extended trip would tire or tie up the talented pair but blood tests taken on Thursday allayed those fears. "Their blood came back perfect and they worked really well on the Cambridge track on Thursday so I am very happy. "Enghien is spot on but of course he might have to sit parked to win whereas A G's White Sock has had a long season like plenty of these horses at the Jewels. But he is very well." Hope isn't the only trainer thinking an unusual preparation could lead to the winner's circle today, with champion trainer Mark Purdon adamant Princess Tiffany (race one) is better now than before she drove a nail through her hoof on race night at Alexandra Park six weeks ago "She is well over that and has really gone ahead in the last few weeks," says Purdon. "Even from her barrier draw she is the best chance of our three in that race and I can see her following Kayla Marie into the race. But she still might have to sit parked to win." After a bizarre week, Purdon says he is happy with all 21 charges he and Natalie Rasmussen will take to Cambridge today, with the draw seeing him lean toward Shez All Rock in the three-year-old Diamond. "She took a few days to settle in up here but is spot on now." He is happy with their huge team and in the other races where they have multiple starters he rates Enhance Your Calm (race two), Winterfell (race eight) and Sicario (race nine) their best hopes. "But I don't think there is anything between Another Masterpiece and Jesse Duke in the juvenile pace. It could just come down to who gets the better run." Horses in drugs scare get the all-clear The 10 harness horses at the centre of a drug contamination scare this week have all been cleared to start at today's Jewels meeting. Precautionary tests requested by trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen (nine horses) and Terry and Glenys Chmiel (Dibaba) and conducted by the Racing Integrity Unit showed no presence of drugs in any horse. The unusual concerns were raised when two, now former, staff members of the All Stars stables were believed to have used recreational drugs in the last week and had been in contact with all 10 of the horses tested as they were transported from Canterbury to Waikato. One of the staff members provided a sample to a professional drug tester called in by Purdon and returned a positive while the other refused a test and both were subsequently dismissed. Purdon and Rasmussen contacted the RIU on Wednesday and asked for all nine of their horses who had been in contact with the two employees be tested to ensure they were drug-free heading into today's $1,275,000 meeting, while Dibaba as also tested as it has come north on the same transporter. All 10 horses will take their places at today's meeting, which boasts nine group one races. The TAB, which had been asked by the RIU on Wednesday to suspend betting on six of the Jewels races, re-opened those at 4.30pm yesterday. "The RIU is very pleased with the result. The integrity system worked as it should," said RIU general manager Mike Godber. "The trainers were proactive in advising the RIU of the potential contamination." Michael Guerin

Racing Integrity Unit Release  30 May 2018        The Stewards have been advised by the trainers M Purdon and N Rasmussen that the following horses may have been exposed to a possible contamination during their transportation to Cambridge for the Harness Jewels.   Princess Tiffany Stress Factor Funatthebeach Sicario Winterfell Cheerful Bubbled Up Kayla Marie War Dan Delight . The Stewards have therefore ordered swabbing of the horses. The RIU has advised the New Zealand Racing Board, and they have agreed to suspend betting on the races the horses are engaged in.   The results of the testing will not be available until after 4pm on Friday afternoon when a further announcement will be made.    Mike Godber - General Manager                 Nick Ydgren  - Chief Stipendiary Steward   HRNZ

One of New Zealand’s most promising trotters has been bought by one of the legends of the industry just days out from the Harness Jewels. Which means Oscar Bonavena will join the All Stars army for Saturday’s massive meeting at Cambridge. After having looked an outstanding talent in just two start for trainer Phil Williamson the two-year-old colt was sold to former Kiwi now US-based trainer Chris Ryder and the godfather of New Zealand harness racing Roy Purdon. Roy’s son Mark will be the new trainer, with partner Natalie Rasmussen to drive Oscar Bonavena on Saturday in the $125,000 two-year-old trot. “He is a lovely colt and I was very impressed at Addington last start when he finished second to our other horse, Enhance Your Calm,” said Purdon.  “So we are thrilled to get him for Chris and of course for Dad.” While no trainer likes to see a horse as good as Oscar Bonavena leave the stable, Williamson was all smiles yesterday.  “It is a good sale and I hope he turns out to be a champion for them,” said Williamson.  “It is a very good price, which it needed to be as we had a lot of interest in the horse.  “And obviously he is going to a great home.”  Williamson got a kick out of Roy Purdon taking a half share in the son of Majestic Son after he came out to watch Mark trial Oscar Bonavena on Monday.  “I said to Mark at the time, you are not bad having a bloke like him (Roy) come and give you a second opinion.  “But I am thrilled Roy got a share in him, he is the legend after all.”  Usually any horse joining the All Stars days before a group one race would shorten dramatically in the market but with Williamson one of the most highly regarded trainers of trotters in this part of the world, any great price slash for Oscar Bonavena would be an over-reaction. Michael Guerin

A cloud hangs over one of only three previous Jewels winners heading to Cambridge for Saturday's $1.275 million meeting. Because after stopping to a walk at the Pukekohe workouts on Saturday, Partyon will need to pass a vet test on Wednesday to be allowed to start in the four-year-old Diamond. Only Partyon, Enghien and Dizzy Miss Lizzy go into Saturday as past Jewels winners, Partyon's story the most remarkable as she won the two-year-old Diamond two seasons ago at only her second start. While that was a dream result, this week's preparation has turned into a nightmare. She suffered atrial fibrillation at the Pukekohe workouts on Saturday and while many horses recover from that problem and go on to race at, or close to, their peaks at their next start, it is hardly ideal for Partyon. She had only just returned to usual trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen to prepare for the Jewels after an Australian campaign and not only suffered the fibrillation but of course missed the fitness benefits of a proper hit out on Saturday. Purdon is confident she can still make the $150,000 mile but admits the preparation is less than perfect. "The good news is her heart had returned to its normal rhythm by last night (Saturday) and that is one of the most important things," explained the champion trainer. "But we will get her checked out again on Wednesday and make a final decision then. But I think she will still be starting." Partyon already faces a huge task from her second draw in one of the glamour races of the day but that is indicative of what the All Stars are up against on Jewels day. They have 20 horses entered for the meeting and only Winterfell (barrier one) has drawn inside barrier four. "I can't remember us getting a series of draws like this and I can see it being a real issue as it looks a day where not a lot of drivers are going to be handing up," said Purdon. Three final acceptors withdrew yesterday, with Kendra pulling out of the two-year-old Diamond and both Puma Road and Girls On Film withdrawn from the three-year-old Ruby. Michael Guerin

Australia’s long Harness Jewels drought looks certain to end at Cambridge next Saturday. Because the barrier draws for the $1,275,000 mega day with nine group ones have played into the hands of the Australian visitors, none more so than superstar filly Shez All Rock. She has drawn handy on the front line and looks set to find the front in the $150,000 three-year-old Diamond and will start long odds-on, especially with Elle Mac drawn the second line. While she is being trained for her two-race New Zealand campaign by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Shez All Rock is very much counted as an Australian, having been invited before her NZ Oaks win and she will wear the green Australian Jewels colours in her mobile mile. If she is successful she will become the first Australian horse to win a Jewels since the meeting became such a huge part of the New Zealand harness racing calendar 11 years ago. While Shez All Rock will be clearly the best backed of the six Australian reps next Saturday, the chances of Shane Tritton-trained stablemates Platinum Revolution (race one) and Petes Big Jim (race six) improved after they both drew the ace.  And even four-year-old mare Carla’s Pixel may not be too badly disadvantaged by drawing one on the second line behind a potential leader in Seaswift Joy. Australian trotters Dance Craze (four-year-old trot) and Wobelee (three-year-old trot) face trickier draws but the latter in particular still looks a winning hope as gate speed has never been his forte. With barrier draws so crucial for mile racing at Cambridge the final fields will see plenty of movement at the top of the markets as some long-time favourites fared poorly. Elle Mac is one of the most obvious while Princess Tiffany will have to overcome the outside of the front line is she is to remain unbeaten in the two-year-old Diamond. The four-year-old pacing divisions have both been thrown wide open with the two favourites in the male pace, Star Galleria and Eamon Maguire, having their gate speed weapons taken away by second line draws. And the same applies to Bonnie Joan, Partyon and Utmost Delight in the mare’s races. Remarkably the four Purdon-Rasmussen trained juvenile male pacers, who held the top four spots in that market, drew alongside each other in the outside four spots on the front line. NZ Derby quinellamates Sheriff and Pat’s Delight gained crucial advantage over Sicario with inside front line draws in the three-year-old male pace while Habibi Inta has the ace draw inside Enghien (barrier three) in the four-year-old trot. One of the questions of the day will be how hot three-year-old trot favourite Winterfell handles his barrier one draw after being occasionally rocky in his gate last start. Michael Guerin

Neil Pilcher owned a champion but that is not what people will remember him for. Because tomorrow when hundreds of racing industry participants, family and friends gather at Addington Raceway to farewell "Pilch", his success as an owner will be part of the story. A small part. Pilcher died in Christchurch early on Saturday morning after years of battling a range of illnesses one might inflict in 80 well-lived years. That life consists of raising four children with his wife, Rose, a series of jobs ranging from a nurse at a psychiatric hospital and owning his own demolition company. But it was as the owner-operator of Inter-Island Horse Transport, carrying precious equine cargo from one end of the country to the other that Pilch built his reputation for not only been an astute businessman but a relentless worker. There were plenty of good and even great horses along the way, many in the last two decades with Tony Herlihy but more often than not Mark Purdon. His Purdon success stories were numerous and included Derby winners Waikiki Beach and Russley Rascal but it was Smolda who gave Pilch late in life the champion he deserved. He produced one of the great Harness Jewels wins of all time at three and then 18 months ago, when he looked past his best, won the Inter Dominion in Perth and Australian Aged Pacer of the Year. But it wasn't all glamour. "Pilch" would turn up at the All Stars, even when he struggled with his health in recent years, and tend to the training track and the morning teas. That was the sort of bloke he was, doing what needed to be done, with a smile and a cheeky chuckle which hid his great eye for equine talent. He will leave a unique hole in the New Zealand racing industry, especially in the lives of some of harness racing elite horsepeople as well as he brother Lee, who was Pilcher's partner in so many endeavours. Neil's last starter, Mach Up, won the final race at Addington on Friday night, hours before his death. That would have made him chuckle. Pilcher's life, which will be celebrated long into tomorrow night, proved you don't have to be soft to be gentle. He is survived by Rose and their four children Mark, Leanne, Jane and Brett. Michael Guerin

Shez All Rock (3yo Diamond) - Following the running of the New Zealand Pacing Oaks on Friday the 18th of May it was noted the horse Shez All Rock broke from its gait over the final stages and then paced indifferently through to being pulled up after the race. A post-race Veterinary examination showed the horse to have some minor shoulder soreness. The following day the filly underwent further Veterinary examination at the ‘All Star’ stables where some sensitivity was noted in the horses’ fetlocks. These joints have subsequently been injected. Stewards will continue to liaise with the stable regarding this. Elle Mac (3yo Diamond) - Driver and co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen reported she had been slightly disappointed with the efforts of this filly in the New Zealand Pacing Oaks. The stable have advised that it is their intention to have blood taken on the 22nd of May for analysis and undertook to notify Stewards of the results of these. Diababa (3yo Diamond) - Driver and co-trainer Terry Chmiel has notified Stewards that following this fillys performance in the New Zealand Pacing Oaks, which he perceived to be disappointing, a Veterinary examination was carried out. Resulting from this the filly has had her fetlocks injected. Mr Chmiel also had blood taken for analysis and undertook to notify Stewards of the results. Run Boy Run (4yo Emerald) - Run Boy Run was late scratched from the Oamaru HRC meeting on the 20th of May after being found to be lethargic and off it’s food on race morning. Trainer Mitchell Kerr has advised that the horse was also displaying some nasal discharge and a course of treatment has commenced. Mr Kerr added that it was his intention to continue with the horses’ preparation towards the Harness Jewels. Jesse Duke (2yo Emerald) - A slight lump was noticed on the front right leg of this horse following its winning performance in the Sires Stakes Final at Addington Raceway on the 18th of May. The Stable notified Stewards of this and their intention to have the leg scanned. This afternoon a Veterinarian scanned the leg and was satisfied the horse was able to continue with its Harness Jewels preparation. Stewards will continue to liaise with the stable regarding this. HRNZ

Speedy Australian 3yo harness racing filly Shez All Rock has crushed the opposition in the $150,000 (Gr1) NZ Oaks in what was her first New Zealand start at Addington raceway tonight. Co-trainer and driver Mark Purdon settled Shez All Rock back beyond midfield early in the race before looping the field to lead with 800m to go and then easily holding the rest of the field off up the straight. In the end Shez All Rock won untouched by more than two lengths despite a skip and a gallop just after the line. Purdon was rapt with the win saying she would improve a lot after tonights run. "I wasn't sure what to expect tonight but she delivered and delivered stylishly. "When we were travelling so well in the race and when I let her down a bit turning for home, I knew nothing would come off her back and beat her," he said after the race.  The race favourite Elle Mac was game in defeat running second and Bettor Trix was just as good in third, making it an All Stars trifecta in the race. Shez All Rock (Rock N Roll Heaven - Irish Loch) paced the 2600m mobile in 3-11.0, with a closing 800m in 56.7 and 400m in 26.9 seconds.  Harnesslink Media  

All Stars racing stables grabbed another harness racing Group One tonight when Jesse Duke got over the top of his stablemate and favourite Another Masterpiece to land the spoils in the $170,000 Garrards 2yo Sires Stakes Final. Driven beautifully by co-trainer Mark Purdon, Jesse Duke had to work a bit early to get to the parked position but then had cover from the 700m to the turn as John Dunn attacked the leader Another Masterpiece with his drive Heisenberg.  In the straight Jesse Duke had too much speed for his rivals and got up to beat Another Masterpiece by a head with yet another All Stars runner A Bettor Act running home well for third. Mark Purdon was delighted with the win and said after the race, "He is a good 2yo this one and he got the run to suit. "I had to work a bit more than I wanted early but he has improved and it worked out well. I was probably lucky that John took the sting out of our other one and we managed to capatilise," he said. Jesse Duke paced the 1950m mobile in 2-20.0 and won by a head. The smart colt paced his last 800m in 54.6 with a final 400m in 27.6 seconds.   Harnesslink  Media

Ex NZ pacer Heaven Rocks who finished second beaten only a nose in his first North American will be joined by another ex- All Stars runner in the near future. More The Bettor has been purchased out of the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen barn and will join the US stable of Ross Croghan who also trains Heaven Rocks. Croghan an Australian born reinsman who emigrated to the United States in 1976, now ranks among the greats in US harness racing, winning several driving titles and training well over 1000 winners. Heaven Rocks had his American debut at Harrah's Philadelphia in Pennsylvania on Monday afternoon (NZ time) running a fast finishing second in 1.49.8 on a slushy track. He was driven in his first start in America by US driving legend Dave Millar. More The Bettor joins a growing list of Purdon/Rasmussen horses who are leaving New Zealand to race in North America, with the latest being champion pacer Lazarus.   __________________________________________________________________________ Australian visitor Shez All Rock (Rock N Roll Heaven-Irish Loch) has copped a terrible draw for her first New Zealand start in the New Zealand Oaks on Friday. Shez All Rock who is now being trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen has drawn barrier 16 for the 2600m mobile journey. The smart filly has won her last 5 starts in a row but will have to be extra special to win the Oaks with horses like Elle Mac, Bettor Joy and Delight In Me all drawn much better in the race. Elle Mac will start a short priced favourite in the event after easily winning last weeks Gr1 Nevele R Fillies final.   Harnesslink Media

Top harness racing trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have produced classy filly Elle Mac to win the Gr1 Nevele R Fillies final tonight at Addington Raceway. Elle Mac was dominant in the $134,400 Final for 3yo fillies easily beating All Stars stable mates Bettor Trix (2nd) and Delight In Me (3rd) without being fully extended by driver Natalie Rasmussen. Natalie said on the All Stars website, "All the fillies went terrific in the Nevele R. Elle Mac is just a lovely filly and she seems to be going to another level. "She won really easily and the extra distance of the Oaks next week will actually suit her better. "The other two fillies deserve praise. Delight in Me went a huge race and so did Bettor Trix because she had to do some work early. "It is really satisfying to run like that in G1 races," she said. Elle Mac paced the 1950m mobile in a slick 1-55.4 mile rate with a closing 800m in 55.9 and her last 400m in 26.8 seconds. She will be back at Addington next week for the New Zealand Oaks over the longer trip of 2600m.  All Stars Stables also scored wins with Ohanzee and Sicario during the night with both pacers now looking to head forward to Jewels day on the first Saturday in June.   Harnesslink Media

Ex New Zealand star pacer Heaven Rocks is having his first North American start this weekend, when he lines up in an open pace at Harrah's Philadelphia in Pennsylvania on Sunday. Heaven Rocks is now trained by Ross Croghan an Australian born reinsman who emigrated to the United States in 1976.  Croghan now ranks among the greats in US harness racing, winning several driving titles and training well over 1000 winners. On Sunday Heaven Rocks has drawn gate 4 in a field of 8 runners for the $30,000 Open series. The race will be run over the mobile mile and the big Rock N Roll Heaven gelding will be driven in his first American start by top reinsman David Miller. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ Harness racing trainer Mark Purdon is going to try his hand at training a thoroughbred in the near future. "I have decided its "now or never' training a galloper and I bought one at the May sale at Karaka. He will do a month back at Brighthill Farm who offered him at the sale and then he will come south. Barry enjoyed training the thoroughbreds and I have wanted to have a go. If I don't do it now I probably won't and the timing seems right," he said on the All Stars website  "Actually this colt wasn't my first choice but there is a story behind that. Roy and I were going to the sale but the car broke down in traffic and we ended up having to get it towed home so we didn't make it. My first choice from the catalogue was earlier on and went for a bit more than I wanted to pay. This one was passed in. I had liked the look of him and for $8000 he seemed a reasonable buy to me. Time will tell ! "Earlier Nat and I had an I Am Invincible youngster we bought at the sales in Australia but we didn't really have the time to do it and after it was broken in down here and proved a bit of a handful it ended up at Graeme's (Rogerson). I think it is best known for the day it got to the barrier and bolted over the fence before the race ! I hope this one will be different. I am looking forward to the challenge," he said. ___________________________________________________________________________________________  

There will be no long goodbye for New Zealand’s best horse and our champion trainer. Because Mark Purdon, the man who helped turn Lazarus in a harness racing hero, admits he may not even see him again before he is exported to the United States. Lazarus was sold to US-based owners Taylor Made Stallions on the weekend and will have a short race career there later this year in an attempt to win a major race or pace a super fast mile, either of which would add to his commercial stallion appeal in the Northern Hemisphere. That means he won’t race again in New Zealand and therefore Purdon may not get to give him a farewell pat as Lazarus is undergoing a month of aqua training in the Waikato and is tentatively booked to fly to the US on May 24.  “If that is the case we won’t be north with the Jewels team by them so I won’t get a chance to see him before he goes,” says Purdon. “It will be sad not having him come back to the stable for next season because he is a beautiful horse and a real pleasure to have around the place.  “But I understand the new owners motivations. He probably has nothing left to prove down here whereas if he can go up there and get a really quick mile time it would really help his stallion career in North America.” While no trainer has been confirmed for Lazarus it is believed leading horsemen Jimmy Takter and Ron Burke are in the running to take over his career. Lazarus’s departure caps an unbelievable series of elite level horses leaving the All Stars stable’s care in the last year -- with Smolda, Vincent, Waikiki Beach and Heaven Rocks also now gone. But that still leaves him with two obvious contenders for this year’s New Zealand Cup and one smokey. “Ultimate Machete and Dream About Me are the two big ones who both have open class form at that level.  “Ultimate Machete is a logical New Zealand Cup horse, it is the ideal race for him while Dream About Me is an Auckland Cup winner and we will just have to keep her feet sound. “And while we have a few other who could make it to the Cup, Thefixer is one who we definitely have it in mind for.”  Purdon and training partner Natalie Rasmussen suffered another, far less significant, blow yesterday when they withdrew Luby Lou from the Jewels three-year-old trot.  The NZ Derby winner has been struggling with a cut on her leg after losing a fight with a fence.  “The cut is in a spot where there is movement so it is not healing as quickly as we would like,” said Purdon.  “So she will miss the Jewels, which is a real shame but she could still make it to the Breeders Crown in August.”  Defending champion Paramount King was also withdrawn from that division of the Jewels yesterday while there must be some doubt over Aussie star Wobelee coming after he was surprisingly beaten at Kilmore on Friday night. Michael Guerin

Tim Williams now has a rich 2yo PGG Sales Open to match the 3yo one he posted with Have Faith In Me with a rather surprisingly easy win in the rich feature at Addington on Friday night. Surprisingly easy because he was so well rated. Tim pushed Another Masterpiece hard enough early to get to the front. He dictated the terms astutely and had enough in the tank that stablemate Jesse Duke in spite of being in the one one, could not match his closing speed and in fact the winner seemed to have plenty left in the tank at the finish. "It was not an absolute plan to go to the front but I wanted to use the draw and the thing with this horse is that he is sensible. If you ask him to go he goes but he doesn't get carried away. Doesn't take too much out of himself and eases back just when you want. That is a big help in races like this" While the race time was a rapid 2.18.6 -last year  The Devil's Own came from off the pace to win in 2.16.5-it was also three seconds faster than Lazarus in 2015-it was the style of the win which suggested Another Masterpiece might be a well named youngster. Tim added to a night to remember by winning the Driver's Challenge even though Nathan steered Semirarmide to a late run to run Tim down in the last. Semiramide is raced in partnership by Natalie's parents Cheryl and Vic Rasmussen, Cheryl's second win on the night.  Jesse Duke got the run of the race but was unable to run his stablemate down. "I was not disappointed with him. Everyone is rating him on that huge run at Auckland but those sort of performances can be misleading. As I said in the preview there is nothing much between these two so the result was not a surprise" Mark said "He was doing his best at the turn but it was just too much for him to make up" Mark underlined how  horses develop at different rates. "I would guess Another Masterpiece was about No 4 among them at home five months or so ago but he has kept stepping up!" Mark's son Nathan  who had his own big moment last night, drove Another Masterpiece in work and  recalled that he was a "quiet achiever" "You didn't get much of a feel that he was special but he always did the times he was set and seemed to do them with a bit up his sleeve"  While the KENNARD SYNDICATES are active at the Yearling Sales and would be expected to play a role in races like this, they have won four of the last six editions of the race.  And how about famed thoroughbred trainer, Jim Gibbs and his wife Anne ? This was their third win in the race since 2014. Quite incredible. The Kennard syndicate who race Another Masterpiece including familiar faces like Kennards, Breckons. Gibbs and  Woodhams.   -All Stars Photo The modern run of success in the race for All Stars started with Isaiah in 2013 followed by Alta Orlando who won for the Gibbs and Neil Pilcher the following year. By coincidence he won last night also. Lazarus and More The Bettor and The Devil's Own have been the other recent winners but Western Cullen had won for Mark and Grant Payne in 2011. Harnesslink Courtesy of All Stars Website http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

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