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Champion harness racing pacer Lazarus has won the (G2) $50,000 Inkwise Canterbury Classic at Addington tonight, and in the process reclaimed his status as New Zealand Trotting Cup favourite with the TAB bookmakers.  Lazarus who was only in to the field to get the race off the ground, began well for driver Mark Purdon and trailed for most of the race, before zipping up the passing lane to grab the leader Have Faith In Me with 50m to go. The winner paced the the 2600m stand in 3-19.3 with a final 800m in a quick 55.3 and 400m in 26.1 seconds.  Heaven Rocks who was expected to be more forward than Lazarus and a better chance tonight, never paced well at any stage and dropped out to finish last of the five horse field. Driver Natalie Rasmussen said, "early indications by the vet, was that Heavens Rock had suffered a fractured pastern, but they would be investigating further after the horse had cooled down". Earlier in the night Bordeaux won the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup for Flaxton (North Canterbury) trainer Philip Iggo.  Bordeaux was taken to the front by driver Dexter Dunn after 600m and he led for the rest of the race, before holding off the strong finish of Great Things Happen and Gavin Smith, to win by a narrow margin. Dexter drove a double for the night when Pat's Delight surged to an impressive win in the 2nd NRM Sires Stakes Heat.  Pat's Delight rated 1-56.0 when defeating a strong field, with a closing 800m in 55.7 and 400m in 27.7 Lazarus narrowly winning the (G2) $50,000 Inkwise Canterbury Classic   Harnesslink Media  

Unbeaten 3yo gelding Chase Auckland has been scratched from tonights Sires Stakes heat at Addington, after getting cast in his box last night.  The classy Auckland Reactor gelding was a short $1.50 fixed odds favourite to win tonights race. Last night the TAB bookmakers had also opened the Sires Stakes Final market and installed Chase Auckland a $3.60 favourite for the $170,000 Sires Stakes Final on November 14th. Natalie Rasmussen said on the All Stars Website, "At this stage we don't know how serious it is from a Sires Stakes season point of view and we will probably not be sure until Monday. He just got cast in his box and rapped something while he was at it". "He is a great drive at the races but can be a bit playful at home so it is a case of waiting to see how long he will have to be out of work." Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen still have The Devils Own and Funatthebeach entered in tonights Sires Stakes Heat, with The Devils Own now a clear $1.90 favourite on the fixed odds win market.   Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing super star Auckland Reactor may have cloned himself, judging by the way Chase Auckland demolished a nice field at Addington raceway tonight. Having his second race day start for trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Chase Auckland cruised to another effortless victory over a strong field, winning by three lengths and pacing the 1950m mobile in a 1-56.5 mile rate. His closing splits were quick, with the last 800m cut out in 56.3 and the final 400m in a blistering 26.3 seconds which was the fastest last quarter of the night. Driver Natalie Rasmussen said on the All Stars website after the win, "He was really excellent tonight. He is a good horse. Not only has he got talent but he is a great wee racehorse with it. You can put him anywhere in the field and he just relaxes. It is not every horse at its second start you can have parked but he just does it." Natalie went on to say, "I think Michael (Purdon) deserves a lot of the credit. He has spent a lot of "one on one" time with Chase because he has had his moments but Michael has soft hands and is calm in the cart and it has had a lot of benefit for Chase Auckland." Chase Auckland (Auckland Reactor - Delicata) is owned by the Alabar Racing Syndicate, many of whom were on track tonight to cheer on the win. The Chase Auckland Alabar syndicate celebrate his second win  - Photo All Stars Stable Next up for the speedy 3yo is a heat of the NRM Sires Stakes Series on Friday 6th October at Addington.  Chase Auckland winning easily   Harnesslink Media Read more at  

The progeny of harness racing champion Auckland Reactor are starting to emerge throughout Australasia, including a potential topliner who won his first race-day start in good fashion at Addington today (Saturday). Chase Auckland was having his first start out of the Purdon/Rasmussen All Stars Stable and ended up demolished a strong field without being fully extended by his driver Natalie Rasmussen. The race was run at a solid clip, with Rasmaussen taking Chase Auckland to the front after 600m. Despite a strong mid race attack by second favourite Ready To Rumble and Blair Orange, Chase Auckland had the field covered at the turn, and he went on to win by more than five lengths with no urging needed from the driver. The speedy Auckland Reactor gelding paced the 1950m mobile in a 1.58.8 mile rate with a closing 800m in 58.4 and 400m in 28.7 seconds. Ironically it was exactly 10 years to the day that Auckland Reactor won his first start. It was on the 16th of September 2007 at Timaru rating a 2.01.9 mile rate over 2000 metres.. Chase Auckland will now head to a heat of the Sires Stakes Series in a few weeks time. Chase Auckland winning easily in quick time. Harnesslink Media

The fightback begins today for former pacing hero turned mystery mess Have Faith In Me. But trainer Mark Purdon admits he doesn’t totally understand what he is fighting. The now six-year-old pacer was rated one of the best in the world this time last season and opened as last year’s New Zealand Cup favourite, fair enough too as he was the Auckland Cup winner and the fastest ever Miracle Mile winner. But while stablemate Lazarus produced the near perfect season, Have Faith In Me only showed rare glimpses of anything approaching his best and became the punter’s enemy. The wayward tendencies he was supposed to grow out of got worse and it took extensive testing before a kidney complaint was the best the vets could pinpoint as the source of his problems. Whatever it was, or still is, it has seen Have Faith In Me careen down the pecking order of our best horses as he returns to the public domain at the Rangiora trials today. Purdon, just back from a luckless but enjoyable World Drivers Champs in Canada, is quietly hopeful whatever ailed Have Faith In Me won’t be as big an issue this season. “He seems good so far, but then again he did at this stage last season too,” says the training phenomenon. “He has had a decent spell, seems sound and happy and it is a case of treating him like there is nothing wrong with him any more until we find a reason to change our minds.” Have Faith In Me will be joined at today’s trials by fellow Auckland Cup winner stablemate Dream About Me, whose season was also curtailed by health issues but not before she suggested she is a very special mare.  “She looks big and round but we are very happy with her and because these two had earlier spells than the other top horses they will race sooner. “They are likely to kick off at Addington in two weeks.”The stable’s two New Zealand Cup favourites Lazarus and Heaven Rocks are a month away from the races, with Purdon saying Lazarus has put on muscle without getting any taller.  “I am very happy with him and while the others are very good, he is still clearly the one to beat for me.  “I think Heaven Rocks has as much ability but he doesn’t have the same manners and that could be crucial while Have Faith In Me would have to return right back to his Miracle Mile best of last year to get back to Laz’s level.” The quartet give the All Stars a unheard of dominance of the New Zealand Cup market, with Titan Banner still a chance to rejoin them from usual trainer Graeme Anderson, although he is set to race at Addington on Friday night in Anderson’s name.  “I haven’t heard exactly what they are planning to do with him so am not sure whether we are getting him back,” says Purdon of last season’s NZ Cup third placegetter. Also on show at the trials today will be former US trotter Aldebaran Eagle, good enough to trot 1:52 in North America. “He obviously has real talent but has had a few issues along the way. He will be up to the good trotters here at his best. Whether he is at Monbet’s level we will have to wait and see.”  While Purdon and partner Natalie Rasmussen’s early season focus will as usual be on the Cup meeting at Addington, the odds are shortening on Lazarus heading to Perth for the Inter Dominions shortly after the Addington carnival. “We have nominated both Laz and Have Faith In Me and the intention is to take Lazarus so he will be going unless there is a problem along the way.” Michael Guerin

Another Carnival and another display of dominance from the All Stars’ barn.  Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen finished the Queensland Winter Carnival with five runners for four wins and a third.  Partyon landed the Provincial Oaks and ran third in the Queensland Oaks, while The More The Better won all three starts – Premiers’ Cup, Provincial Derby and last Saturday night’s Group Two Queensland Derby.  He saved his best for last. The Queensland Derby win was a bit special. The times said so.  The More The Better’s 1.56 mile rate for 2680m broke Im Themightyquinn’s track record. It was 0.1 quicker than Hectorjayjay ran winning the Group One Blacks A Fake a few races later.  And part-owner Roy Purdon was trackside to watch it.  Natalie Rasmussen partnered The More The Better to his first two Queensland wins, but she’s away on holiday so Mark Purdon took the reins himself this time. The result was the same.  Purdon drove as though he was on the best horse, and basically bludgeoned his way to the lead inside a lap. From there he was always going to be impossible to beat.  Last start Queensland Oaks winner Shartin, who led and took the trail, tried hard along the sprint lane to get within a half-neck, while another filly My Casino Belle ran a monstrous third after sitting parked in blistering times.  Former Purdon pacer Motu Meteor was shuffled to three pegs, and found it impossible to bridge the gap on the winner in a 27.3 last quarter. He ran a solid fourth.  The More The Better and Partyon now head to Sydney to qualify for the Breeders Crown, and then it’s on to Melbourne for the semis and finals of the Crown.    Top Queensland trainer Grant Dixon is hitting the road again with his buzz juvenile Colt Thirty One.  Dixon thought enough of the Mach Three colt to have a dip at the Australian Gold series at Menangle back in April, but immaturity got the better of him.  He learned from the experience and has returned to Queensland a lethal force, as evidence by his amazing 20m win in a sizzling 1.53.9 mile rate in the Group One Qbred final at Albion Park last Saturday night.  “We’re taking him to the Breeders Crown,” part-owner and breeder Kevin Seymour said. “We have to take him after what he did tonight (Saturday).”  With stand-out juvenile Lumineer out with injury, it’s a smart play by Seymour and Dixon.  On what Colt Thirty One did Saturday night, he looms as one of the major players in the Crown.  The other Group One Qbred winner, NSW filly Arts Treasure, could also head to the Crown.  “She’s got so much talent, but is still pretty big and raw,” trainer-driver James Rattray said. “That’s one of the most challenging drives I’ve had, but thankfully she did enough right to get the job done.”    There is some serious X-factor about former Kiwi juvenile Jack Mac.  Yes he might not be beating much in the WA juvenile features, but it’s more about the way he’s doing it and the times he is running.  Throw in the fact his driver Chris Lewis – a renowned hard-marker – has a huge opinion of him and you know this is no ordinary youngster.  The son of Mach Three arrived in WA with five unplaced NZ starts under his belt, but has belied that with six wins from as many starts.  The latest was the biggest in the $125,000 Group One Golden Slipper (2130m) at Gloucester Park last Friday night.  The colt sat parked early, worked to the front, left his rivals standing to win by 7.3m and broke the race record with a 1.57 mile rate. “The colt appreciates his new environment and has thrived since recently joining our stable,” trainer Barry Howlett said. “We plan to start him in the Golden Slipper, then he’ll go for a spell. “Next season’s three-year-old feature events will be on his programme.”    Still on Gloucester Park and champion driver Gary Hall Jr put on a clinic last Friday night.  Hall Jr won half the 10-race card on a mix of favourites and outsiders.  The highlight was yet another sparkling and effortless win from buzz four-year-old Chicago Bull in the Free-For-All.  Hall Jr’s other wins came with The Publisher and Zach Maguire in races one and five for his father, trainer Gary Hall Sr.  He then finished off the night winning the second-last race on Sprinter for Gary Elson and $28.30 shot Illusionation for trainer Glenn Elliott in the final event.    The decision to try and rejuvenate classy NSW mare Ameretto by sending her south to Kerryn Manning has been a smash hit.  She’s improved at each of her four runs and looked positively stunning winning the Group Three Jane Ellen for mares’ by a cricket pitch at Melton last Friday night.  In a solidly run race, Ameretto stormed around the field out three wide to quickly put the race beyond doubt, and beat a good field by 17.3m in a blazing 1.55.4 mile rate for 2240m.  Ameretto won 17 races over her two, three and four-year-old seasons with Ashlee Grives (formerly Siejka), but had raced below her best with five NSW unplaced runs before being sent to Manning.  She’s now won 18 races and almost $270,000 with the promise of plenty more to come given the nature of her win last Friday.  It was the first leg of a training and driving double for Manning, who also scored with former Kiwi pacer Itz Bettor To Win in the seventh race.  The Merv Butterworth-owned gelding is gradually getting back to the potential he showed as a younger horse, and before being sidelined with injury.  The now five-year-old only scored by a head, but it was the fact he came from an outside back row draw, and around the field in a 1.54.7 mile rate for 1720m.    The controversial date switch and stakemoney cut for the Victoria Cup has certainly divided opinions.  Like it not, HRV has at least been able to snare a sponsor with Allied Express signing-on for the October 14 feature at Melton.  Passionate harness man Colin McDowell, still involved strongly on the breeding and training side of things through his family, is Allied’s CEO and was thrilled to sponsor the Victoria Cup.  An even bigger coup will come if the new timeslot means buzz WA pacer Chicago Bull makes the trip across for Perth for the Victoria Cup. Adam Hamilton

She was something of an "Ugly duckling" as a youngster. Rather plain in appearance to the casual eye and even after starting racing she carried more than her share of gear which didn't making flattering photographs easy. But she would  become the ultimate Swan among fillies of her era.  Natalie Rasmussen has driven a lot of stars over the years and is not easily moved to overrate their achievements. But she had a special regard for "Maddy"and always considered her underrated even in spite of that wonderful record. "A lot of people perhaps regarded her as a staying filly but she can sprint with any of them. There isn't anything she can't do. You can have her anywhere in a field and still have confidence. There aren't many fillies who give you that feeling  every time they go out" Spanish Armada's luck finally ran out, but fortunately not on the racetrack. Injured on arrival in Sydney for the Queensland Oaks and the Breeder's Crown, races she went for because she was so well after the Jewels win, it was found the injury  to be a fracture which would have her off the scene for a long time. She would likely have missed all of her four year old career and Jean Feiss, the original owner of the filly who sold  the breeding rights career to Spanish Armada late last year, decided to relinquish her lease to a Southland owner. Jean, a buyer rather than a breeder because she no longer has a suitable property for the latter , has had a wonderful return for her investment. She bought Spanish Armada for $75,000 at the PGG Wrightson Sales and won 10 times that amount over two seasons-by any measure a good day's work. Some highlights of "Maddy" s career *She won first up in Auckland with Philip Butcher in the cart -one of two wins Philip scored with the filly. He also won her third race. *At just her third start she won the Delightful Lady (G2) and at her fifth, sixth and seventh starts she won the Caduceus Club (G1) the Sires Stakes Final (G1) and the PGG Sales Final. She won six of 8 starts and was the Filly of the Year *She was only beaten twice as a three year old in a Sires Stakes Heat and the Pascoe Northern Oaks won by stablemate Partyon. Her win included the Sires Stakes Final (G1) Caduceus Ladyship Stakes (G2) the PGG Sales Final, a heat and the final (G1) of the Nevele R Filly Series, the New Zealand Oaks (G1) and the Harness Jewels (G1). Even by All Stars standards that is one stunning record. And all that time Natalie and Mark were stripping back those gear additions.  What is more while Natalie wouldn't admit excuses, as usual, Spanish Armada certainly had them for the ONLY TWO TIMES she was beaten in a Group One race, both times by the super talented stablemate Partyon. In the 2016 Jewels Spanish Armada drew 10 over the mile and had to come from a long way back, always difficult at Cambridge. Meanwhile Mark was cleverly judging a moderate (by Jewels standard) pace in the middle stages  with Partyon before sprinting home in 27 and change. In the circumstances Maddy's third was a huge effort. In the Pascoe Oaks this year, Spanish Armada also drew badly and dropped back to last. 10 lengths from the leaders on settling, she  was three wide in the middle stages then parked. After all that she couldn't quite hold out pacemaker Partyon. The Spanish Armada magic might not have fallen far from the tree so to speak.  Her full brother fetched $140,000 at this year's Sales being bought by Barry Purdon  and owned by Woodlands.  Hardly surprising since Barry won well over $300,000 with a closely related filly Cheer The Lady a New Zealand Oaks winner herself and a three quarter sister to Maddy. But that colt will have to be very good to have a better record than Spanish Armada.Fillies like this don't come along often. All honour to her achievements.   Courtesy of All Stars Stables

RIGHT here, right now Chicago Bull looks the horse to beat in the Perth Inter Dominion. Yes that could mean having to beat the likes of Lazarus, Lennytheshark, Hectorjayjay, Tiger Tara and others, but the little “Bull” has plenty in his favour. The Inter Dom is in his own backyard, he’s never raced better and – most importantly – he gets around Gloucester Park like no other horse since his champion stablemate Im Themightyquinn. Chicago Bull made it five wins on end and three-from-three this campaign with a breathtaking display at Gloucester Park last Friday night. The pint-sized son of Bettors Delight scorched around 1730m at Gloucester Park in a 1min52.6sec mile rate to win by nine metres. It was just 0.1sec outside Run Oneover’s track record. To explain, Chicago Bull’s stablemate and multiple Group 1 winner Beaudiene Boaz found the front with a lap to go and just kept running. Chicago Bull was last, came three-wide with a lap to go, drew alongside Beaudiene Boaz rounding the home bend, but then just left him standing. He was timed to run a 55.4sec last half off the track. And Chicago Bull appeared to win with plenty in reserve for driver Gary Hall Jr. THE All Stars’ Queensland raid had mixed success at Albion Park’s big meeting  last Saturday night. While both the Purdon/Rasmussen raiders – Partyon and The More The Better – won impressively the previous week, only one of them repeated the dose this time. It was Bettors Delight colt The More The Better, who blew away his rivals in the Group 3 Provincial Derby and appears set to do the same in next week’s Group 1 Queensland Derby. Any fears an inside back row draw might prove tricky were quickly erased when there was an early speed battle and Natalie Rasmussen snagged The More The Better right out the back into clear air. With the sting out of the frontrunners, it was always just a matter of when Rasmussen launched and how far she won by. The More The Better powered past his rivals rounding the final bend and cruised to a 6.2m win in an impressive 1min55.2sec mile rate for 2138m. It was exactly the same time posted by Dean Braun’s Kiwi-bred filly Shartin, who led throughout to win the Group 1 Queensland Oaks over the same trip. Driver Luke McCarthy used the pole to lead and pinched some cosy early splits before Partyon came to sit parked and put some pressure on down the back straight. Shartin handled the challenge, pulled clear of Partyon and held-off My Casino Belle, who sat behind her, to win by 2.2m. The Kiwi other filly Delightful Memphis found it impossible to make ground from the one-one trail in closing splits of 54.3 and 26.4sec. She ran fourth. WELL-KNOWN owner Merv Butterworth’s decision to “scatter” some of his emerging stars is reaping rewards. Motu Premier enjoyed a fantastic couple of years in the All Stars’ barn, but Butterworth felt he was better placed staying in Australia after Mark Purdon guided him through a successful Menangle raid back in April/May. Instead of leaving him in Sydney or sending him to Melbourne, Butterworth moved Motu Premier across to the WA’s stables of his long-time friend Ross Olivieri. The result has been three impressive wins from as many starts so far. The best of them came when Motu Premier came from a back row draw to sit parked and powerfully win the Winter Wonder Pace in a brisk 1min55.6sec mile rate for 2100m at Bunbury last Saturday night. In doing so, he beat high quality Gloucester Park performers Bettor Reward and Touch Of Success despite doing all the work. At Ballarat last Thursday, Butterworth’s three-year-old Motu Meteor impressively broke through for his first win for new trainer Kerryn Manning when he resumed from a spell. Motu Meteor won heats of the Victoria and NSW Derby for the All Stars’ and ran second in the Victoria Derby and third in the NSW Derby finals. UNBEATEN juvenile filly My Sweetchilliphilly is close to returning for her Breeders Crown assault. Shane and Lauren Tritton’s young star has looked awesome winning all four starts, but was spelled after the Pink Bonnet victory at Menangle on April 8. “She wasn’t eligible for things like the (Australian) Gold of NSW Breeders so we took the chance to give her a break with the Crown in mind,” Shane Tritton said. The daughter of Betterthancheddar sparkled winning a Menangle trial in a 1min53.6sec last Tuesday. That’s quicker than she’s gone winning a race so far. My Sweetchillphilly’s best win so far came when she sat parked and poured the pressure on throughout to win the Bathurst Gold Tiara by 21m on March 25. She went a 1min54.7sec mile rate for 1730m, which would equate to at least a 1min52sec mile around Menangle. She will be the “fresh” player to tackle Emma Stewart’s batch of star juvenile fillies headed by the likes of Molly Kelly, Nostra Beach and Nostra Villa. Another juvenile to impress at those Menangle trials last Tuesday was John McCarthy’s unraced Kiwi import, Rakasinc. By Changeover out of Rakarach, the gelding zoomed away with a 24m win in a 1min53.7sec mile so he’s one to watch when he steps out at the races. Adam Hamilton

Next stop is Queensland for star former Kiwi pacer Tiger Tara.  Trainer Kevin Pizzuto moved-on quickly from a totally luckless Len Smith Mile run to back-up Tiger Tara for a dominant win, albeit against easier class, in the Group Three Coca Cola Pace (1609m) at Menangle last Saturday night.  In the Len Smith, Tiger Tara found himself back last in a top-start affair and was clocked to run a 52.5 last half off the track when finishing only eighth.  Driver Todd McCarthy was mindful of not getting too far off the pace this time.  Main danger Allblack Stride worked forward to find the lead from gate eight, but McCarthy quickly moved around the field to sit parked after settling near the rear.  McCarthy stepped-up the heat on Allblack Stride rounding the final bend, quickly hit the front, then Tiger Tara seemed to do just what he had to do for a 4.1m win in a 1.52.7 mile.  It will now be interesting whether Pizzuto heads to Brisbane for next Saturday night’s Group One Sunshine Sprint, or sticks to his original plan of bypassing it, and waits for the longer Group One Blacks A Fake the following week.  Lennytheshark, Hectorjayjay and My Field Marshal head the list of stars awaiting Tiger Tara in Queensland.  We’re in for a couple of great weeks of racing.      Still on Queensland and the Allstars barn quickly put their stamp on this year’s Winter Carnival.  Despite being small on numbers with just the two raiders, both of them won with authority.  First-up was The More The Better, who capped his preparation for the Queensland Derby with an effortless win in the $30,000 Group Three Premiers Cup with Natalie Rasmussen aboard.  Rasmussen also took the reins on star filly Partyon, who showed a return to her sparkling early season form, to win a very strong Provincial Oaks.  Another Kiwi filly, Delighful Memphis, was sent out a hot favourite and led as expected, but Partyon was too strong and classy in a 1.56.8 mile rate for 2138m, capped by closing splits of 55.9 and 26.9.  Former Kiwi filly Shartin, who has been grabbing the eye in easier races for Victorian train Dean Braun, ran a slashing second. My Casino Belle was third and Delightful Memphis fourth.  Another impressive winner on the night was Grant Dixon’s four-year-old Leos Best, who used gate three lead and was simply too fast for the promising stayer Mattgregor in the Group Three 4YO Championship. They flew home in 56.3 last half and 27.8 closing quarter for a 1.55.1 mile rate.  NSW raider Spare Me Days won the Mr Feelgood pace for open-class pacers narrowly but impressively.  Maybe one-time budding superstar Beaudiene Boaz can still be a Perth Inter-Dominion contender.  The Gary Hall snr-trained pacer looked a bit special last season, but his form has been indifferent since.  He posted just his fourth win in almost 18 months when he led throughout at Gloucester Park in the Past Presidents Cup (2130m) last Friday night.  It was a real line in the sand race and the five-year-old delivered. He came from gate five, sat parked early, worked to the front and won strongly by 1.8m in a slick 1.54.8 mile rate from Vulcan Tin and stablemate Run Oneover.  It was the second leg of a double for Hall Jr in the sulky, having taken advantage of a scorching early pacer to blow his rivals away on promising four-year-old Zach Maguire in a flying 1.52.6.    Advance Attack filly Cott Beach built on her impressive record with a dominant Westbred 2YO Fillies’ final win at Gloucester Park last Friday night.  Trained by Gary Elson and driven by Nathan Turvey, Cott Beach posted her sixth win from just eight starts when she led throughout to win the Group One $100,000 feature by a whopping 21.5m.  Cott Beach posted a 1.58.8 mile rate, while Highroller Joe (Roll With Joe-Illeagle) ran only marginally quicker at 1.58.6 in the colts and geldings final. It was a big night for Highroller Joe’s trainer-driver Justin Prentice, who also won the 3YO Fillies’ final with Allamerican Queen.  Handsandwheels capped a big season where he won the WA Derby and then added last Friday night’s $100,000 Westbred final for father-son team Andrew and Aiden De Campo.    Lance Justice has won bigger races, not many would have meant as much as last Saturday night’s $20,000 Popular Alm Sprint (1690m) at Kilmore.  That’s because he trained Love Ina Chevy to a fighting win, and he’s the gelding who narrowly cheated death so many times, when gravely ill at the start of last year. Incredibly, the five-year-old lost none of his fighting qualities as shown by his biggest career win in the Popular Alm.  Love Ina Chevy led and took a trail then used the sprint lane to snatch victory from Four Ex Dan by a half-head in a 1.55.9 mile rate.    Star former Kiwi mare Cyclone Kate was the first benefactor of Menangle’s trial of a new handicapping system.  The system allows horses to drop back in grades pending from over their past five starts and Cyclone Kate did just that and then used gate four to lead and win impressively in a 1.53.1 mile.  Another winner of note on the night was Shane Tritton’s Eh Ef El, who blazed a 1.52.1 mile in race nine.  Tritton has been singing Eh Ef El’s praises for much of this year, but he’s shown as many “tricks” as he has sparkling displays.  If he keeps doing it all right like last Saturday, Eh Ef El will roar through the grades.    No wonder former Kiwi youngster Jack Mac is prepost favourite to win WA’s biggest juvenile race, the Golden Slipper.  The son of Mach Three stretched his unbeaten Aussie record to five wins when he cruised around at Gloucester Park last Friday night.  Jack Mac was unplaced in five Kiwi runs before moving to Barry Howlett’s barn when he looked top shelf.  Another winner from last Saturday’s Gloucester Park meeting well known to Kiwis was recent All Stars’ export Motu Premier, who emphatically won his second run for trainer Ross Olivieri.  The Merv Butterworth-owned four-year-old has enjoyed a bumper season, first in NZ then with two wins and a close second from three Menangle runs (still with the All Stars) and now with Olivieri.  This season he’s raced 13 times for eight wins, two seconds and earned over $80,000. Adam Hamilton

The All Stars have arrived for the 2017 Brisbane winter carnival. And their harness racing campaign started in the best possible manner tonight (Saturday). Represented by The More The Better and Partyon, both made successful starts to their Sunshine State stints with victories in the Gr.3 $30,630 The Badcock Group Premiers Cup and the Listed $25,540 Egmont Park Provincial Oaks respectively at Albion Park in dominant fashion on the opening night of the carnival. Former Queensland based driver Natalie Rasmussen took the winning drives on both pacers for her partner Mark Purdon. Starting at prohibitive odds, The More The Better justified his short quote with an easy victory in the 2647m stand start feature defeating Timmo Time and Paternity Suit in a time of 1:59.1. The last half was covered in splits of 28.8 and 27.5 seconds. The Bettors Delight colt will start again next week in the Gr.3 $30,540 Egmont Park Provincial Derby before his main target of the $75,000 Queensland Derby on July 15. The victory in the Premiers Cup was the third for the All Stars stable after previous success with Best Deal Yet (2012) and Gentle Western (2015). Star filly Partyon remains unbeaten on Australian soil with a hard fought victory in the Provincial Oaks downing Victorian filly Shartin and My Casino Belle in the 2138m mobile start feature. Despite racing without cover over the final stages, the multiple feature race winner proved too strong in a time of 1:56.8. The Bettors Delight filly ran her last quarter in 26.9 seconds. Partyon will start next week in the $75,000 Queensland Oaks. The All Stars stable won the Oaks double two years ago with Fight For Glory. In the Gr.3 $30,540 Ted and Edna Badcock Memorial 4yo Championship, race favourite Leos Best led throughout for trainer/driver Grant Dixon to beat Mattgregor and Cherish The Moment in the 2138m mobile start feature. The Cammibest gelding rated 1:55.1 while covering his final half in 27.5 and 27.8 seconds. Consistent Goulburn pacer Spare Me Days proved triumphant in the Listed $25,540 Mr Feelgood Open Pace for trainer/driver Brad Hewitt. Racing three wide without cover over the final stages, the tough five-year-old scored a determined victory over The Space Invader and Majestic Major in a time of 1:55.0 for the 2138m feature. It was maiden his Albion Park victory. Spare Me Days will start next week in the Gr.2 $50,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint followed by the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake the following week. Next week, night 2 of the carnival, the features include the $75,000 Queensland Oaks, $50,000 Sunshine Sprint, $30,000 Provincial Derby, $20,000 Fleur De Lil Ladyship Stakes and the $15,000 Trotters Marathon. Chris Barsby

The real Heaven Rocks has been revealed. Because it turns out the two-times Jewels winner isn’t actually the intimidating bully  he looked at Ashburton on Saturday, with driver Natalie Rasmussen believing he is really a big pussycat. Heaven Rocks confirmed his reputation as the most exciting pacer in New Zealand --- not the best, that title still belongs to stablemate Lazarus --- with his crushing win in the $150,000 Four-Year-Old Emerald. As always he was allowed to lag behind his rivals at the start before working three wide to parked and then dispatching them at the top of the straight, winning by four and a half lengths but it could have easily been eight. It wouldn’t have been a Heaven Rocks performance without at least one moment of concern, as Rasmussen had to take hold soon after he made his winning move as he attempted to duck in. But his co-trainer says those now common theatrics from Heaven Rocks are not because he is pig-headed or crazy, in fact the exact opposite. “He is actually a very timid horse,” explains Rasmussen, who trains Heaven Rocks with partner Mark Purdon. “As a young horse he broke a pastern bone and I think that is where all this stems from. “Obviously it hurt him and dented his confidence and while he doesn’t feel any pain from it now it has changed him mentally. “That is why he is a bit wayward some times. It is not because he has any dirt in him, he is still getting over what happened.” Heaven Rocks clearly has the motor of a superstar but to take the next step, to that New Zealand Cup/Miracle Mile-type level, his rough edges will need smoothing out and Rasmussen is confident that can be achieved. “It has been a battle with him getting that confidence back but I think we are winning and giving him a break now when he is feeling good about life will help. “I think he can be better again next season, but he will need to be to actually win those top races.” Heaven Rocks shone the brightest of the stars on show on Saturday but stablemate and fellow Rasmussen drive Spanish Armada was almost as dominant, completing one of the great domestic seasons by a three-year-old pacing filly. Her 25.5 second last 400m is one of the fastest official sectionals recorded in New Zealand and she adds a Jewels to her Sires’ Stakes, Sales Series, Nevele R Final and NZ Oaks, with the Breeders Crown in Melbourne still to come and possibly a Queensland Oaks stopover as a reward. But while plenty of Jewels winners have gone on to the Breeders Crown in August, that won’t be the case for Dizzy Miss Lizzy, who was brilliant winning the opener on Saturday or juvenile trot winner Paramount King. “I’d love to be taking her over there but sadly she isn’t eligible,” said Dizzy Miss Lizzy’s trainer Nigel McGrath. And Paramount King’s co-trainer Josh Dickie knows the lanky trotter needs a break, with only his deft training skills getting him home on Saturday at a stage of the season when he looks ready for the spelling paddock. Piccadilly Princess also needs a break, winning her four-year-old mares division in steady but hardly spectacular fashion while Ashley Locaz saved the bookies by flashing past red hot favourite stablemate Spankem in the juvenile boys pace in national record time. Michael Guerin

Things were only ever going to get better for Ricky May yesterday at the Harness Jewels. The champion horseman had, what could best be described as, a bizarre start to the day after he was struck by a car when making his way onto the course. The Mid Canterbury local was knocked to the ground in the incident, but thankfully only suffered a tender wrist in the incident. After being checked by St John’s staff attending the meeting, May was cleared to fulfil his driving engagements for the day. “I was looking in the other direction and the car reversed back and hit me,” May said. “It wasn’t probably as bad as it sounds, but I guess you could say I was a bit lucky.” May shook off the jitters to produce a beautifully patient drive on hot-favourite, Enghien in the three-year-old Ruby and the outstanding gelding called on every inch of his brilliance to get past a game President Roydon. While the win might not have looked all that comfortable, for May it was really never in doubt. “I always felt like he was going to win the race, it was just a case of getting him past the line,” May said. “He is never going to be completely comfortable, but he trots through it. “There’s a fair motor there.” The win could see Enghien elevated to a position where he could potentially be in line for a Trotter of the Year Award at August’s Harness Racing Awards. That would make for back-to-back victories for Greg and Nina Hope with sons of Love You after they took the Award home last year with Monbet. Enghien’s victory was followed closely by the performance of Jewels day from the enigmatic Heaven Rocks. The monstrous pacer was simply stunning in his victory in the Four-Year-Old Emerald and drew his driver, and co-trainer, Natalie Rasmussen into making some pretty astounding comparisons. “He’s just so fast, like the only horse I’ve driven who is as fast as him is Black’s A Fake,” Rasmussen said. “When I asked him to run at the top of the straight, he just took off.” With only one Jewels win next to her name prior to yesterday, Rasmussen extended that tally to three with a victory on Spanish Armada also falling her way. Matt Markham  

Natalie Rasmussen’s reserved, but powerful, raise of the fist at the end of last night’s New Zealand Oaks at Addington was a salute to a filly who she is fast considering to be one of her favourite horses of all time. Naturally, nothing will ever quite measure up to the legendary Black’s A Fake, but if you asked the 16-time New Zealand Group One winning driver who was next, Spanish Armada’s name would be right up there. “I’ve just got so much time for this horse,” Rasmussen said. “She’s everything you could ask for in a horse really, she’s one of my most favourite horses at the moment.” With brimming confidence and a strong knowledge of what was going on around her, Rasmussen was on a one-way mission in the $150,000 Group One last night and was never going to back down from the challenge of starting off the second row and having to work her way into the race. “I just had so much faith in her, and what she is capable of. “Her work during the week was exceptional I thought and she really felt on top of her game so I knew we were good to go heading into the race. “The circumstances worked out alright, but she did have to work quite a few times in the race in tricky conditions. “But her staying ability was always going to be her best asset and it showed with the way she really kept at it the entire way to the line.” Despite the inclement weather, Spanish Armada still managed to stop the clock in a staggering 3:09.1, obliterating the previous best mark for a three-year-old filly in a 2600 metre mobile, which was held by De Lovely from when we won the Oaks in 3:10.9 back in 2010. It was another magical moment for Jean Feiss, who has enjoyed a stellar run over the past few seasons. And that fun hasn’t stopped. The Harness Jewels are the next stop on the path to greatness for Spanish Armada and based on her performances over the past two weeks, she’s going to be the one they all have to beat again over the mile at Ashburton. Bonnie Joan was a gallant second, beaten by a superstar, after doing plenty of work. “She’s gone great, as good as she could have really,” Dexter Dunn said of his drive. Upmost Delight emerged from the pack to run a strong third and earn herself a Jewels berth while Mark Purdon was simply beaming at the effort of Partyon who ran on strongly from well back in the field for fourth. Purdon, less than 45 minutes earlier, had been tasting big race success himself as a driver when he partnered Spankem to win the Sires’ Stakes Final for the two-year-olds. The Jewels leader in the Emerald, Spankem enjoyed a nice trip just off the speed before unleashing to win effortlessly. “He deserved that big one,” Purdon said after the race. “And with that run he was always going to be very hard to beat I thought. “He’s quite an exceptional horse.” Spankem is owned by the same connections who enjoyed the win of The Devil’s Own in last week’s Yearling Sales Series Final, capping a big week for the group who will now look forward to the Jewels with both horses.   Matt Markham  

There’s everything to gain and everything to lose for plenty on a big night of harness racing tonight at Addington. With the Harness Jewels meeting creeping ever closer as each day passess, the potential permutations who head into harness headquarters this evening, chasing big stake money and any form of advantage that might fall their way ahead of big meeting. From a punter’s perspective the most attention will come, not in the two or three major races of the night, but more courtesy of some of the lower profile events on the card. In particular, Four-Year-Old Ruby joint-favourite, Marcoola. The rising star hasn’t raced this year and is unlikely to race again before the Jewels, so a good run under the belt tonight will be paramount to justify his $2.60 quote that is on offer with bookmakers now. From the outside of the front line from behind the mobile, we won’t expect too many fireworks from Clint Ford, but if the speed is lacking during the middle stages, he’ll be moving and Marcoola will find himself up on the speed. Defeat tonight may result in a drifting of his current Jewels quote, so punters would be best served to take the wait and see approach with the multiple Derby winner. Of all the horses going around tonight though, the pressure is the most on Piccadilly Princess. She needs stake money to work her way into the Jewels. Currently she sits in the 13th spot on the order of entry for the Four-Year-Old Diamond, but with Rockstar Angel looking likely to fill the Australian invite spot in that race, 13th won’t be good enough to give her the chance to go for back-to-back Jewels successes. Should she only fill a minor placing tonight, the potential is still there for her spot to be taken from over the course of the weekend with both Hopes And Dreams and Idealistic Lass within striking distance if they can pick up easy kills at both Invercargill and Oamaru respectively. The former particularly looks a really strong winning chance which will see her rise up and into the top 12 for Graeme Anderson. Piccadilly Princess has the arduous task of contending with her high class stablemates, Waikiki Beach and Cash N Flow tonight which will just make her task all that much harder. Cash N Flow was given a very strong push by Natalie Rasmussen on the All Stars website this week. The four-year-old has slipped under the guard for much of his career, but compiled a rather impressive record and isn’t without a show in the Four-Year-Old Emerald next month against some quality opposition.   Matt Markham’s Addington Selections Race 1: #6 Pirate Bay, #7 Delight My Soul, #11 Hilarious Magic, #9 Late Mail Race 2: #12 Needle, #13 Lavros Jack, #3 Habibi Inta, #2 Regal Love Race 3: #5 Enghien, #6 President Roydon, #8 Kissmeimloaded, #3 Di’z Luck Race 4: #8 Don Domingo, #3 Mac Almighty, #11 Patanjali, #5 Franco Tai Race 5: #8 Sundee’s Son, #4 Paramount King, #3 One Muscle Hill, #14 Majestic Man Race 6: #3 Cash N Flow, #10 Waikiki Beach, #9 Classie Brigade, #8 Piccadilly Princess Race 7: #8 Let It Ride, #9 Eamon Maguire, #5 The Fixer, #4 Star Galleria Race 8: #8 Elle Mac, #3 Shenandoah, #4 Dizzy Miss Lizzy, #7 Bettor Joy Race 9: #3 Alta Maestro, #4 Spankem, #8 The Devil’s Own, #1 Aloka Race 10: #7 Wilma’s Mate, #9 Marcoola, #8 Habibti Ivy, #1 Missandei Race 11: #12 Spanish Armada, #6 Bonnie Joan, #9 Partyon, #5 Juice Brogden Race 12: #8 Moonrock, #4 Sparkling Delight, #13 Mongolian Hero, #1 Donegal Carrickfinn Best Bet: Don Domingo (Race 4) Value: Needle (Race 2)

When competing at the ultimate level it’s the small percentages that can often determine an outcome and for Spanish Armada they proved a major factor in her Group One success in the Nevele R Fillies Final last night at Addington.  The brilliant filly trounced her rivals in the $140,000 feature to cap a magical night for the All Stars team and particularly, Natalie Rasmussen who handled the driving duties on all four of their winners but it’s almost a case of what is still to come being as exciting as living in the moment of another premier night domination.  Rasmussen’s small percentage saves in the Nevele R Final came early on in proceedings when she threw a few form analysts books out the window by handing up to her stablemate, Partyon almost immediately. There had been some belief that she might try and take the bull by the horns and led throughout, but Rasmussen said she felt taking the sit was the better option.  “I knew Partyon would at least get me to the top of the lane,” she said.  “And I knew that Dexter (Dunn) would put the pressure on down the back which would help our chances a lot.  “But it all worked out perfectly and felt more like a bit of a trial than anything else, it was a really nice run to lead into next week’s Oaks. She’s pulled up really well this morning and you would hardly know she had run in a Group One last night. “I’m just really hot on her at the moment, she’s in such a good place and thriving.” Owned by Jean Feiss, Spanish Armada has now won four Group One races and more than $600,000 in stakes with some serious money still on offer over the next few weeks. While rapt with her performance there was a little bit of perplexity about the effort of Partyon who didn’t quite look herself.  “I think she just probably hasn’t come forward a lot from her two-year-old season, where the other fillies had.  “Mark said she was just ok last night.” Judge Mark Gallagher was unable to split second place in the race with Bonnie Joan and Delightful Memphis declared in a dead-heat for the runner-up prize after strong performances from both, particularly Bonnie Joan who worked off the second row barrier draw.  Less than an hour later, Rasmussen found herself in the winners’ circle again when The Devil’s Own emerged from nowhere to claim the $200,000 PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales Series Open Final.  The two-year-old pacer looked dead and buried around the final bend, but Rasmussen knew if she found clear air that he would charge to the line.  “He trailed up behind the so well and I knew if we got a gap that he would hook into it and really go but it was just a case of how early we would get it.  “I thought probably second or third was going to be our lot, but the leader started to tire a bit late and we managed to get past him, it was a pretty impressive performance.”  The Art Major colt has been a gradual improver since beginning his career and Rasmussen has high hopes for him as a three-year-old.  “He’s a pretty fair sort of horse, I quite like him.  “But he will be even better next year I think, he’s got a bit of improvement left in him yet.” Harness Jewels contender, Heaven Rocks stamped his authority early in the night when winning the Free-For-All event, but despite the victory Rasmussen wasn’t overly convinced the gelding was 100 per cent.  “We had him checked this morning because I just felt he wasn’t quite right in his gait last night and he has a slight fetlock issue but it’s nothing serious and we have got on top of it early so it shouldn’t be an issue. “The big bonus with him is that his manners are getting better and better, he jumped something last night when we turned around to score up and went off in a gallop but came back to me nicely which he wouldn’t have done a while back.  “So we will keep him on the unruly for now as I don’t want to ruin all that work we’ve managed to achieve with him.” The fourth win came of under-rated pacer Star’s Align who made us of a good drive from Rasmussen to scoot up the passing lane and win comfortably while you could argue that the victory of Australian raider, One Muscle Hill for former Kiwi Nicole Molander was also an All Stars success with the two-year-old trotter currently domiciled at their stable.    Matt Markham    

The battle for female, three-year-old, pacing supremacy will return tonight at Addington with New Zealand’s three best fillies locking horns for the first time since they met in the Harness Jewels last season. And the three stars; Partyon, Delightful Memphis and Spanish Armada all meet under different circumstances in the heat of the Nevele R Fillies Series. Partyon comes in off the back of a shock defeat last week while Delightful Memphis is riding the crest of a wave after two impressive recent performances while Spanish Armada has just been doing what she does best and that’s consistently racing with distinction. For Partyon it’s a shot at redemption after she was beaten for the first time in her career at Forbury Park last week. “It wasn’t an ideal race for her first up on,” Mark Purdon said. “Sitting parked in those conditions, when running that sort of time just proved too much.” Natalie Rasmussen takes the drives on the rangy filly tonight and with the requirement a first or second placing to make the Nevele R Fillies Final it’s expected she will look to take luck out of the equation and try and dictate terms from the front. That leaves Delightful Memphis in an interesting position. The Mark Jones trained filly has been stunning in her last two starts down in the deep south including a breath-taking New Zealand record time win off a handicap against the older horses last time. That back up a 1:51 mile win a fortnight before. She’s qualified for the Nevele R Fillies Final, so there’s not quite as much pressure on Jones to get a result but the Burnham horseman will be keen to see whether or not recent racing has improved his charge enough to really push the two top fillies. Matt Anderson has been gifted the plum drive on Spanish Armada for tonight and the youngster will be looking to make the most of his opportunity albeit from an outside of the front line draw. Beaten one in her last six starts, the dour filly won’t have any problems making her own luck tonight although she is in a similar boat to Delightful Memphis in that she has already qualified for the final on May 12.   Super Selector for Addington Race 1: Woodstone, Majestic Moment, Spurred By Success, Ed Wood Race 2: Locked Out Of Heaven, El Gran Senor, Got A Beauty, Black Art Race 3: Crusher Collins, Grand Princess, Jaw D Nancy, One Over Da Skye Race 4: The Devil’s Own, Mach Shard, Cole Porter, Bailey Major Race 5: Power Surge, Errol Finn, Kayteeoh Denario, Titanium Race 6: Partyon, Delightful Memphis, Spanish Armada, Utmost Delight Race 7: Real Obsession, Franco Rebel, Mighty Santana, North Carolina Race 8: Sugar Cane, Beg Hall, Geena’s Success, Chivasion Race 9: Mighty American, Midfrew Tarpediem, Vera’s Delight, Enchantee Best Bet: Partyon (Race6) Value: Sugar Cane (Race 8)   Matt Markham

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