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Second row draws in 1710m races are never good news at any level but even those couldn’t dampen Natalie’s spirits on Sunday morning. “You are in a series. You just have to expect the draws are going to go against you at some stage. Two at the same time not ideal but you just have to roll with it and hope for some luck in the running” However she is counting the positives not the negatives. “I really can’t get over how well the two boys have come through the race. They ate everything up and are bouncing around like schoolboys. You couldn’t have better news than that in a high pressure series like this” Spankem was and is the surprise packet, at least to Australians and, going by his price, many Kiwis as well. Spankem came to Australia as a three year old in search of the Victorian Derby along with stablemate The Devil’s Own. He won his heat- at Ballarat incidentally- and was a good fourth in a highly competitive Derby Final. Colt Thirty One beat Poster Boy and The Devil’s Own with Spankem 4th in a 1.54.5 mile rate. This time he has travelled even better. “He’s got all you want for a horse over here on a tough campaign. He can work in a race and still sprint if you want him and he just seems to love being here. “ Natalie said echoing Poi’s thoughts from last week. “A horse like that is a big asset in a a series like this” That is taking nothing from Cruz Bromac who only did what he had to to win at cramped odds. Though perhaps primarily regarded as a speed horse Cruz can be devastating at any distance with a lead into the action and the distance of the later heats won’t bother him. After the 1710m heats on Tuesday there is a round of 2555m heats at Cranbourne next Saturday and the 2760m final at Melton the following week. While Tuesday’s draws are difficult they are not impossible by any means. Spankem follows out Ellmer’s Image who went average on the first night and may not be able to carry him into a prominent position early but he showed on Saturday how he is capable of making his own luck. Given bold front runner Alpha Rock has also drawn the second line it is another back rower, Tiger Tara who looks the one to beat on his first night run though even he is not set an easy task from outside the second row. Cruz Bromac, the fastest heat winner on the first night follows out the Tim Butt-trained Italian Delight, whose poor run on the first night attracted the attention of the stewards. Galactic Star the former Kiwi from Perth who won the second heat on Saturday is also drawn on the second line. Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/   Fields for Tuesday night click here!

Matt Bowden is more than happy with how things are going with Inter Dominion hopefuls Spankem and Cruz Bromac as they shape up for the first heats on Saturday. The team arrived in Sydney last Friday and travelled by road to Melbourne on Saturday. “No complaints . Possibly Spankem has done a little better but not enough for anyone to be concerned about. Cruz is going good too” Poi said “Natalie arrives over by Thursday and I will be heading off to Auckland then to look after the team there. They will be based at Barry’s this year” “Natalie will be staying there for the campaign. We are based just out of Melbourne where Blacks a Fake used to stay when he went to Melbourne and it is nice and quiet here” “Spankem has never turned a hair and is a great little traveller. I will be surprised if he doesn’t win a heat of the series at least. Cruz is a hot favourite in his heat and will also be ready for a big run. I am happy with them both” Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

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

Aussie warhorse Tiger Tara could find himself facing the same problem at Addington today that he did three days ago. But if he doesn’t, then he should win the $200,000 New Zealand Free-For-All. The big black stallion wowed fans and even rival trainers with his huge second in the New Zealand Cup after sitting parked before just going down to Thefixer, who used the passing lane to grab him. Tiger Tara has what looks to be the worst possible draw at barrier nine, the outside of the front line, in today’s 1980m mobile pace but has real gate speed and should be across most of his rivals early should driver Todd McCarthy want. But that still leaves him with the same problem as he faced on Tuesday — the likelihood he could be left parked outside a Purdon-Rasmussen horse. The most likely is Cruz Bromac, who will relish the return to the mobile and blasted to the lead to win the Len Smith Mile at Menangle over the winter. If driver Natalie Rasmussen chooses to use that speed he could lead again and then the whole question of the race may be whether she lets Tiger Tara assume the pacemaking role or not. If he leads then it is hard to imagine him beaten unless the passing lane horse, a Cruz Bromac or Jack’s Legend, got him for raw speed. But his $2.70 fixed odds quote does look appealing because if he was drawn better he would be closer to $2 and that may not be the huge factor it looks at first glance.   Michael Guerin

As far as elite drivers go, the name of Natalie Rasmussen is clearly in the conversation. The trailblazing girl from Queensland can drive.....and she can drive fast. But it’s the soft hands and gentle approach that puts her in rare air. Her collection of big race trophies includes Inter Dominions, Miracle Mile, Queensland Pacing Championships and Auckland, Victoria and Hunter Cups. Rasmussen has led the way for female drivers by becoming the first to win the Inter Dominion, Queensland Pacing Championship plus the Auckland, Victoria and Winter Cups. All of the above mentioned are Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit events, the best of the best. And the latest trophy to the mantelpiece, the Gr.1 $800,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup, another Grand Circuit feature. Rasmussen produced another polished display to land the 3200m stand start feature, getting race favourite Thefixer away safely before taking the early lead from Star Galleria and then handing over to stablemate Dream About Me. It was typical of her normal poise and guile in big pressure events. The victory puts her alongside fellow Australian Kerryn Manning as the only female winners of the famed feature. Rasmussen also co-trains the winner in partnership with Mark Purdon. After a long delay following a botched attempt the first time around with the starting strand becoming entangled with Eamon Maguire, runners were called back and forced to stand to attention again. But the delay had no effect on Rasmussen or Thefixer with a safe beginning made and landing in a dangerous position while key rivals navigated some early traffic and jostled for positions. Sitting patiently in the trail, Thefixer followed Dream About Me and saved much needed energy, the lead time was covered in 1:57.8. Sole Aussie raider Tiger Tara soon made his move and circled three-wide before parking outside Dream About Me, he maintained strong pressure onwards. Approaching the home turn, Dream About Me and Tiger Tara sprinted as strong as they could and actually had Thefixer losing their backs but Rasmussen went to work and the nuggety little stayer knuckled down and picked up via the passing lane to defeat a gallant Tiger Tara with Dream About Me filling third place. The winning margin was a head with a half-length back to third. The winning time was 3:53.9 - the mile rate was 1:57.6. “I can retire happily now that I’ve finally won this race,” Rasmussen declared. “That was so so close but we got there, he’s been a project horse of mine for some time and he’s such a great little stayer, we got a great run but I was worried when the sprint went on but he fought all the way to the finish and he was brave. It wasn’t an ideal campaign with the hoof abscess but things worked out well.” It was her 7th drive in the New Zealand Cup. Her victories on New Zealand soil now tally 237 from 612 drives while amassing more than $7.9 million. The All Stars stable has now won 4 of the past 5 editions. And the efforts of super sire Bettors Delight can’t go unnoticed, his 5th straight winner of the Cup plus a trifecta! Thefixer is by Bettors Delight from the Christian Cullen mare Tosti Girl and came at a cost of $47,000 at the 2015 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka. The next leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit is the Inter Dominion in Melbourne on December 15.   Chris Barsby

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

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

No final decision has been made but if it was a sentimental decision you could not help thinking it would be Thefixer. Not that it would need to be a sentimental decision. He just might be the best chance. Eight wins from 14 starts is not to be sneezed at in any company. And in his first start since mid-September you would expect even more improvement from this run his last before the Cup. Instead he gave them all a chance to beat him and held them at bay. Rated well four back on the outer by Natalie, Thefixer came into the race quickly went clear and fought off all challenges the most impressive of who was Dream About Me who had Tim and Paul and Mary Kenny all smiles with her super effort. Natalie’s affection for Thefixer is never hidden. “Just about the perfect racehorse. Tries so hard has the manners and the pace to get where you want him to be and just does everything you ask of him” she said “I mean he hadn’t raced for so long compared to most here and you would hardly know” Mark was not so happy about Ultimate Machete “A pass mark, just. He will have to be sharper to win the Cup I was hoping for better really”   Thefixer winning at Addington last night   Courtesy of All Stars Racing stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

The confused puzzle that is the New Zealand Trotting Cup still has plenty of missing pieces after Eamon Maguire's win in the Flying Stakes at Ashburton yesterday. The Harness Jewels winner confirmed what most punters already suspected, that with his manner and speed he'll be a factor in the $800,000 classic at Addington on November 13. He stepped quickly to the lead then trailed stablemate Dream About Me and the pair surged clear of their rivals as leaders so often do at Ashburton, with Eamon Maguire just having too much sharp speed for the older mare. Alta Orlando was a huge third after starting from the unruly ahead of Star Galleria, who ran on well for fourth after a brief gallop at the start, and then the expensive failure Ultimate Machete. He galloped wildly early and settled last, giving himself and punters no chance. The Cup favourite made strong ground for fifth but his manners are making him a hard horse to back with confidence. In three starts this season he has yet to race a place. Eamon Maguire is good enough to win the Cup but 3200m may not be his ideal trip, Dream About Me looks vulnerable to speedsters divebombing her and Alta Orlando is basically off a handicap in the great race because he is unruly. Star Galleria looks to be tracking in the right direction, then after Ultimate Machete it is hard to make a case for any of the other beaten brigade yesterday winning the Cup. Aussie raider Chicago Bull is likely to race at Alexandra Park on Friday against last season's Cup runner-up Jacks Legend but with a small field likely it will be interesting to see what value that race has as a form guide. The other Aussie challenger, Tiger Tara, was impressive winning at Menangle on Saturday night and with so few weak points edges his way closer to Cup favouritism. Add in the likes of Thefixer, who has had a slight setback, and last week's Methven Cup winner Cruz Bromac and the Cup has a lot more winning chances that we are used to. As efficient at Eamon Maguire was yesterday the performance of the day was undoubtedly comeback trotter Marcoola in the Flying Mile. He equalled the national all-comers mile record with a 1:54.5 grinding effort over the top of Great Things Happen, who looked home at the 200m mark after leading. Marcoola looks bigger and stronger after his break, taking pole position for the open class trotters. Michael Guerin

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

As reported by Stuff, one of harness racing's brightest young prospects is one of seven people charged after a long-running inquiry into alleged race-fixing and drugs in the industry.  Police confirmed they have charged seven people in relation to Operation Inca, which culminated in raids on 10 harness racing stables in Canterbury, ManawatÅ« and Invercargill on Tuesday. More raids are understood to be happening on Wednesday.    Read the full story here   Martin van Beynen and Mat Kermeen  

As reported by Stuff a wealthy Christchurch punter whose home was raided in a high-level police investigation into corruption in harness racing says police will come up empty-handed.  Harness racing identities have been interviewed by police following morning raids on 10 stables throughout the country, following a long-running inquiry into alleged race-fixing, corruption and drugs in the sport.  Police executed search warrants on stables in Canterbury, Invercargill and ManawatÅ«. Figures interviewed included Natalie Rasmussen, John Dunn, Blair Orange, Nigel McGrath and Andrew Stuart.  Christchurch car industry king pin, racehorse owner and major punter Graham Beirne, speaking to Stuff from Bali where he is on holiday, said he had heard about the raids on Canterbury trainers and knew police wanted to interview him. "I'm a suspect put it that way. The police have been to our place this morning but I'm not there. All I have to say is one word: nonsense. Read the full Stuff story here   Martin van Beynen and Mat Kermeen Stuff Website

New Zealands top harness racing stables the "All Stars Stables" have produced The Fixer and Dream About Me to run the quinella in the National Handicap at Addington Raceway tonight. The race was the first totalizator hit-out for the New Zealand Cup entrants hoping to gain some early form for the big race in November later this year.  It turned into an eventful race, firstly with two of the six runners breaking and putting themselves out of contention at the start and then The Fixer running his last half 800m in a sizzling 53.71 seconds to get home late over the top of the stablemate Dream About Me in the shadows of the post. Tote favourite Captain Dolmio trained by Robert Dunn led for the majority of the race but was run down in the straight to finish a slightly disappointing third.  Natalie Rasmussen the driver and part trainer of The Fixer said on the All Stars Website after the race: "The Fixer is a grand little racehorse and when you consider how long his career is and what he has done he is up to the best classes.  "But he can be a naughty little bloke at times and I was a bit worried before the start but he began like a toff and got the best run after that. "I thought Dream About Me went as well having to do that bit more work," she said. The Fixer (Bettor's Delight - Tosti Girl) will probably run in the Maurice Holmes Trophy next and maybe the Victoria Cup if all goes well.     Race 7  TELTRAC COMMUNICATIONS LTD NATIONAL HANDICAP PACE, $12,096, R70 & FASTER DISCRETIONARY, 2600m   For R70 & faster pacers. This race has a maximum back mark of 30 metres.   Weather: Overcast     Track: Fast     Plc Bk Horse Barrier Hcap Stakes Fav Time Margin Driver Trainer 1 5 Thefixer 3 20m 7,632.00 2/2 3-15.4   N C Rasmussen M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen 2 6 Dream About Me 1 30m 2,016.00 3/3 3-14.7 0.80 T M Williams M Purdon & Ms N C Rasmussen 3 3 Captain Dolmio 1 20m 1,008.00 1/1 3-15.6 1.40 J R Dunn R J Dunn 4 4 Classie Brigade 2 20m 648.00 5/5 3-15.7 1.50 B N Orange N R McGrath 5 1 Baileys Knight 1 fr 504.00 6/6 3-27.7 53.90 S J Ottley J D Harrington 6 2 Letspendanitetogetha 1 10m 288.00 4/4 3-29.3 65.50 M J Anderson R J Dunn $12,096.00   Scratchings SCR 7 Alta Orlando U1                     Divs: $2.40. $1.50. $2.40. Quinella $4.20. Trifecta $14.10. Margins: 1/2 length, 1 1/4 lengths, 1 1/2 lengths Times: Mile Rate: 2-00.9 Last 800m: 54.4 Last 400m: 26.8 Harnesslink Media    

Chase Auckland may have has lost two weeks out of his NZ Cup preparation with a minor injury but that is by no means the end of the penny section as the Aussies say. "It's a muscle thing, something he has just nicked in  the paddock and is nothing serious" Natalie said "We have put him on ultrasound treatment and we expect that it will be all cleared up in two weeks tops" "If that is the way it works out it doesn't threaten a Cup preparation but any longer and it could be a problem from that point of view. But I doubt it will take any longer than that and probably not that long" Chase Auckland returned to the stable recently to begin his new preparation which is not guaranteed to end in a NZ Cup attempt anyway. With all the rich four year old features on both sides of the Tasman through the spring and summer it is being viewed as an option in a perfect scenario but nothing beyond that at this stage.    Courtesy of All Stars Website

The biggest night of the Albion park harness racing calendar is finally here and the competition looks as fierce as ever. Tomorrow night we will honour the famed pacer Blacks A Fake, who earnt over $4.5mil with 72 wins under his belt. Trained & driven by Natalie Rasmussen, he won the 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010 Inter Dominion Championships - making him the only four-time winner of Australasia's premier harness race. Other achievements include wins in the Queensland Winter Cup (3 times), Victoria Cup, Hunter Cup and three Australian Horse of the Year titles. The $200,000 grand circuit event, the "UBET Blacks A Fake" starts as race 8 on the program at 8.40pm. Race favourite, Atomic Red lines up against last week’s Garrard’s Sunshine Sprint winner, Tact Tate as well as the likes of Let It Ride, My Field Marshall, Cruz Bromac and Glenferrie Hood. Additional group races on the program include the G1 QBred Triad Finals for the two year olds, G2 AQWA Constructions Queensland Derby, G3 Ted & Edna Badcock Memorial 4YO Championship and G3 Haras Des Trotteurs Marathon. The program also highlights Australasia’s most talented drivers in the Garrard’s Horse & Hound Drivers Invitation Pace with New Zealand’s Dexter Dunn joining Queensland drivers Nathan Dawson, Grant Dixon, Pete McMullen, Gary Whitaker and Kelli Dawson alongside interstate competitors Luke McCarthy, Chris Geary, Amanda Turnbull, Anthony Butt, Matthew Craven and Rob Morris. For the meetings full form analysis and selections refer to Racing Queensland harness racing specialist Darren Clayton’s deliberations on the meeting: http://www.harness.org.au/punting/punters-corner/form-analysis/?keyNum=221470 The race meeting has a number of exquisite betting propositions courtesy of wagering service provider UBET. Headlining these offers is a $25K First 4 jackpot pool on race 1 scheduled for 5:08pm EST. This is complimented by a $5K First 4 jackpot pool on race 8, the UBET Blacks A Fake. Additionally, a $2.5K Quadrella jackpot is listed for races 2 to 5 with the first leg due at 5:42pm EST which is complimented by $2K jackpot Trifectas on races 3 to 6. The first race of an action packed 10 event card begins at 5.08pm EST. For further information contact the Club on 07 3262 2577 or info@aphrc.com.au Racing Queensland

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