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The NZ Oaks was won easily in the end but it might well have been won at the beginning. Natalie, in superb form with three Group wins from three drives, thought so when she was able to swing in from three wide and get in front of Belle of Montana. But her decision to improve in the middle stages to take the front while the sectionals were a little relaxed was the key to an easy win. “She felt good and I though I will be off and make the ones most likely work to beat her. She never really felt like she would be beaten in the run home. A great filly and she was on her game tonight” The win heightened the 3yo Filly of the Year award contest which Belle of Montana looked to have a lead after the Nevele R last week. Now it is likely to come down to the Harness Jewels in two weeks. Princess Tiffany ran close 3.08 for the 2600m breaking by close to a second the record set by Spanish Armada two years ago. She continued a great run for owners Phil and Margaret Creighton and Braeden and Caroline Whitelock who separately set new records on the night. One aspect of that was that the Whitelocks Kayla Marie completed a “double second” chasing Belle of Montana home in the Nevele R Final and Princess Tiffany in the NZ Oaks. Bubbled Up again looked a little off her peak finishing midfield after having enjoyed a nice run The Oaks win by Princess Tiffany “It seems surreal -but its actually real” -that sum up by Mike Woodlock co-owner of One Change with Trevor Casey and All Stars, seemed to sum up the remarkable rise of the two year old with his five for five win in the $170,000 Sires Stakes Final at Addington. As for Trevor tears came to his eyes as he remembered his long time partner, the late Neil Pilcher, an original owner of the youngster after he was passed in as a yearling for $20,000 Bought post sale by the stable for $30,000, Neil’s share was taken up by All Stars on his death and Mike, a retired teacher at St Andrews College who helps out at All Stars, was offered a share. He had previously raced a horse successfully with “Pilch”. As chief admirer and handler Ashleigh said “the dream continues” after One Change, looking headed by Flying Even Bettor close to the post kicked back to win. Natalie had given him the run of the race but said afterward it went “nothing like I expected” “I didn’t know how much gate speed he had because he hasn’t be used out of the gate previously. But he had it and we got the break. I wasn’t sure we’d won. Flying Even Bettor, which went a terrific race came back at us and I wasn’t confident at all” One Change has now won over $200,000 not a bad return on his yearling price. He now heads to the Jewels and possibly the Breeders Crown in August if all goes well in the interim. “He’s done nothing wrong and shown he has the early speed as well” Mark said “Smooth Deal was disappointing and he will come out of the Jewels on that run. He is going backwards when he should be going forward” His recovery rate raised questions as well, Natalie said later. But Amazing Dream compensated Bill and Jean Feiss handsomely with an impressive win in the rich PGG Wrightson Sales Final. Natalie wasn’t afraid to use her ability to get handy and then lead and she held on gamely to win well. “She’s a good filly and she is improving. She has always been game but she has a bit of speed too which I used tonight. That was a top effort from her really” Meanwhile even Mark was somewhat taken aback with the ease of Winterfell’s win the FFA Trot which guaranteed him a start in the Jewels. “Really he won that easily and while I expected a top run I didn’t think it would be that easy” Mark said of the big trotter who has hit peak at the right time.   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables

Rising harness racing star Spankem claimed another Gr1 victory tonight by winning the 2019 $90,000 Dawson Harford Ltd NZ Messenger Championship at Alexandra Park. Using the same tactics as she did in last weeks Taylor Mile success, driver Natalie Rasmussen blasted off the mobile gate to grab an early lead with the showy Bettor's Delight gelding.  It turned out to be a lead she would never relinquish. As he did last week Spankem ran along in front with no attackers and he simply had too much gas in the tank for his rivals, unleashing a sizzling last 800m in 54.3 seconds and winning by half a length at the line.  Stable mate Turn It Up got closest again running home well for second with Mach Shard battling on well from the trail for third. For Natalie Rasmussen it was her second straight win in the race, after winning with Eamon Maguire last year. "He got a nice soft lead again tonight and that first lap was pretty kind," she said after the race. "I was conscious not to spark him up, because he can get a bit keen sometimes, but he was nice and relaxed tonight so he was able to hold them off. The winners time was 3-17.6 for the 2700m mobile. Spankem winning the NZ Messenger The All Stars Stables had a good night in both Islands. As well as winning three out of the four Group One races on offer at Alexandra Park, they also picked up three races at Addington including a trifecta in the rich $161,000 PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales 2YO Open, with One Chance just pipping stablemate Smooth Deal by a nose with Flying Even Bettor running third. Ashlea Locaz also won during the night as did well bred maiden first starter Only Me.   Harnesslink Media

The Miracle Mile was a pointer, Mark’s preview of the race a major hint. Yet still punters clung to Turn It Up's chances of outsprinting the 1.47.7 miler Spankem driven by one of the best raters in the business in Natalie Rasmussen in the Taylor Mile at Auckland. Until lunchtime Friday one was at $1.55 to win and one was at $3.10. And the $1.55 odds were not about the Miracle Mile winner. They were about a horse who had won a 3200m race at Addington last start. Reality struck closer to post time no doubt driven by Australian punters who couldn’t believe their eyes. It was an absorbing contest but Spankem was always to have an advantage if he held up in front which he did with gusto. Natalie stole a quarter in 32 in the middle stages and Mark was not inclined to force the issue after having done the donkey work in the open early. “He was just so good. He seemed to really come to it on his trip to Australia and he has gone on with it. And that draw advantage was a big one” Natalie said. The win lifted Spankem over the $1M mark in earnings joining an elite list of All Stars greats. Mark was not disappointed with Turn It Up for a moment and the way he rallied late in a better than 27 last 400, that was hardly surprising. He lost few friends for the Messenger next week. The horse has yet to be further back than 2nd in 12 starts and had not been asked to run a 1.53.4 mile before. The time erased the race record of Scuse Me, 20 years ago who won for Mark with Frank Cooney in the cart. Chase Auckland went a storming race for his 4th from a bad draw and is also a factor next week. This was a race which lived up to its billing, a throwback to the good old days of head to head clashes of superstars as opposed to the “star of this month” evident in some other promotions of the night. It was a tribute to All Stars that it was a straightout contest punters could profit from but also enjoy and know they got their money's worth Courtesy of All Stars Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

Speedy harness racing filly Amazing Dream smashed a 2yo New Zealand record when winning the $95,000 Gr1 Woodlands Stud Caduceus 2yo Fillies Classic at Alexandra Park tonight. Amazing Dream paced 2-40.4 for the mobile 2200m beating the previous NZ record of 2-41.9 set by Spanish Armada in this race in 2016. Tonight Amazing Dream was sent forward off the gate and led early in tonight's race before handing up to Tiffany Rose and John Dunn for a trail home. Hot favourite Sweet On Me who was very short on the tote and was previously unbeaten, had to sit parked out for the last lap on the hot pace and Amazing Dream who had the better trip had too much speed up the passing lane, getting to the lead halfway up the straight and holding on to win by a neck. Sweet On Me never gave up and fought well for second and Tiffany Rose battled on for third. The winner paced her last 800m in 55.7 and her final 400m in 27.2 seconds For successful driver Natalie Rasmussen it was her fourth success in the race and also the sixth straight win in the race for the All Stars Stables. “Amazing Dream has been a little bit stiff with draws except the one time she led and won at Addington,” she said after the race. “She has always had the ability, but she is a round little girl and the hard racing has done her good. “I have been pretty confident with this one from early days and she does have quite a bit of get up and go with her.” she said. Amazing Dream (Bettor's Delight - Christian Dreamer) is owned by Jean Fiess who was on track to see her filly win tonight.   Harnesslink Media

Young harness racing driver Ben Hope won his first Group race yesterday when Muscle Mountain was successful in the Gr3 "Majestic Son" NZ 2yo Trotting Stakes at Addington Raceway. Hope who is sitting third on the National Junior Drivers premiership table drove another calculating race with the unbeaten Muscle Mountain (Muscle Hill - Paramount Faith) when after finding the front shortly after the start he decided to hand up to second favourite Ultimate Stride with a lap to go.  Ultimate Stride was all done at the 400m and Muscle Mountain looked like being a chance of being carted back behind him, but Ben Hope managed to extract the speedy gelding out of a tight spot on the turn and from there he cruised home to win easily without being pushed. Muscle Mountain ran the 1980m mobile in 2-29.1 a mile rate of 2-01.1 with the winner coming home his last 800m in 58.6 with a closing 400m in 27.98 seconds. One Majic Kenny was brave in second for driver John Dunn and the Purdon/Rasmussen trained filly Tailored Elegance rattled home late for third. There were two false starts in the event with multiple offenders breaking stride in the runups to the start.   In the other 2yo (pacing) race on the day there was also sensation when raging hot favorite Smooth Deal galloped out of contention shortly after the start dashing his chance and also the hopes of punters many of whom had included the son of Bettor's Delight in multi bets during the day. Mark Purdon wasn’t sure what happened when Smooth Deal went out of his gear early in his Sires Stakes heat at Addington. “He’s done it before but there was no apparent reason for it this time. He might have touched a knee it is just hard to say” Mark said. Smooth Deal had already qualified for the Sires Stakes final during his Auckland campaign, so Saturday’s failure was not as crucial as it might have been if he had not qualified. All Stars Stables had better luck later in the day taking home wins with Princess Tiffany, Winterfell and Ashley Locaz. Star 3yo old filly Princess Tiffany looked to have come back to racing in great order, winning Heat 7 of the Nevele R Fillies Series with an easy all the way win. Driver Natalie Rasmussen gave nothing else a chance when shooting Princess Tiffanyto the lead from the start and then blazing home her last 800m in 55.2 to win untouched by more than 2 lengths. Winterfell also was back in winning form easily accounting for a tidy field of trotters in the Rating 70 and faster Trot. The son of Majestic Son settled back in the running for driver Mark Purdon and despite trotting a fraction roughly at the last bend he had too much speed for the opposition in the straight going straight past them and posting a quick 3-17.8 for the 2600m stand. Ashley Locaz gave Purdon a race to race double when gaining a deserved win in the R90 and faster pace. He too led for most of the way in his win holding off a good field with a sizzling last 800m in 54.9 seconds.   Harnesslink Media

The most important factor Spankem has on his side going into tonight’s $100,000 Easter Cup is the one thing you can’t see.  The 3200m race looms as a thriller with the winners of the New Zealand and Auckland Cups in Thefixer and Turn It Up as well as last-start Miracle Mile winner Spankem with a super-strong support cast on Addington’s most dazzling night of the season.  Many of the indicators punters might use for making their decision are there in plain sight — the standing start and 3200m records, video performances from races and trials, the handicaps and draws while we can all rate the big three and their rivals on how we personally feel about them.  But the one thing you can’t see but you can ask is who is the horse in the zone right now?. Because when the competition is this tough and even, the horse who is closest to their peak is often the one who can run through the pain barrier to win.  That horse might be Spankem.  While co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen says all five of their starters in the Cup are ready to go, she believes Spankem is the one in that zone.  “Obviously any one of our top three could win without surprising us and it might simply come down to luck in the running,” says Rasmussen. “But Spankem seems perfect, really where he needs to be. He was spot on when he won the Miracle Mile and he hasn’t lost any of that.  “He couldn’t be better so if I had to opt for one it would probably be him.”  That doesn’t guarantee any success as Spankem still faces a 20m handicap and the chance of bad luck that brings and new driver Tim Williams will need to join the battle at the right time. For example if he follows Thefixer around the field and has to sit parked giving the latter the one-one maybe he probably can’t win. Reverse that scenario and Spankem becomes the one to beat out of the pair.  The horse punters might struggle to work out the exact fitness of is Turn It Up, who might be the best pacer in the country.  The Auckland Cup winner hasn’t raced for three months but wouldn’t be here unless his champion trainers thought he could win.  But very, very few horses in the modern history of New Zealand harness racing have won group one 3200m without a lead-up race. Turn It Up might be that good but his odds aren’t really tempting enough to find out.  While the Easter Cup could come down to any combination of those variables tonight’s two Derbys both look far more straight forward. If both Ultimate Sniper ($200,000 Pacing Derby) and Enhance You Calm ($100,000 Trotting Derby) behave themselves and race up to their potential they should both him.  The NZ Trot Champs is a battle of the established in Speeding Spur and Marcoola against the four-year-olds but Marcoola is still top trotting dog until somebody wrestles that title off him.   Michael Guerin

A lengthy association with All Stars came to an end, at least in the foreseeable future, for stable manager, Michelle Neilson last week on her return to Australia after seven years at Rolleston. Michelle came over from Australia where she had had considerable experience as a junior driver and through family connections with racing in 2012 around the same time Natalie made her base permanently at Rolleston. “I poached her actually” Natalie confesses. “She was very good, had a lot of potential and I knew she would fit in well over here. She did” Initially a stablehand and junior driver, Michelle drove six winners in her first full season in New Zealand and was keen for more driving opportunities which was not easy with Mark Natalie and Blair available for the team. In her final Junior year she handled 20 winners. For a brief period she left All Stars in search of greater driving opportunities. She was back for her first open driver season in which she handled three of her five winners for All Stars, Serengeti, Riccardo and Golden Goddess, the latter when she ended Dream About Me’s 12 successive win tally. In the past two seasons as stable manager she has had fewer opportunities but won three of only 14 drives in the 2018 season including one with Princess Tiffany (admittedly a Breeders Crown heat which was a walkover) and two raceday successes with Kayla Marie compiling a 10 per cent winning strike rate overall with 35 wins. There would have been plenty more but for her executive position at All Stars which encompassed nominations here and in Australia, flight and veterinary planning and a number of other responsibilities not directly connected to the training of the horses. It was a big challenge for someone who until then had followed instructions rather than giving them and acting as a team leader-acquired skills sometimes underrated by outside observers. Especially on the major days when All Stars had huge numbers involved the planning was intense . The work involved a 7 day mindset and in the regular absences of Mark and Natalie overseas heavy responsibility which can take a toll eventually, Some time ago when indicating she would return to Australia, Michelle referred to family pressures and the desire for a change of direction. “I have been here seven years and away from my family for most of that time and that is a factor in my thinking. I didn’t expect originally that I would be away this long. “I guess too there is a time for thinking about a new direction in life having followed this one for so long. Just a freshen up really. I have made no decisions about that but will have a chance to think and reflect on it when I get home” Michelle leaves with the best wishes of Mark and Natalie and All Stars staff, the longest serving of several Australians the stable has “imported” over several years.   Courtesy of All Stars Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

THE fastest last quarter in the history of harness racing in Australia sealed the richest race ever run at Tabcorp Park Menangle tonight when four-year-old gelding Spankem won tonight's $1m Ainsworth Miracle Mile. Surging home in a 25.4s final quarter as part of a slashing 1:47.7 mile, Spankem gave champion reinsman Mark Purdon his first win - as a reinsman in the race - and his second as a trainer. And even more satisfying for the All Stars team is that they bagged the quinella in the Group One with New Zealand Cup winner Thefixer (Natalie Rasmussen) finishing second and their other runner, Chase Auckland (Luke McCarthy) fourth, just behind Chariots Of Fire winner Poster Boy (third). Typical of Australia's biggest harness race, few could tip the way the race would unfold. Thefixer led from gate two but handed up the lead to Spankem early in the race and from there Purdon never gave anything else a chance. Spankem scored a one and half-metre win over the stablemate with Poster Boy 7.5m back in third after getting clear when the race was all over. Tipped by many to make a clean sweep of Australia's greatest race, Tiger Tara scored the first surprise when he was taken back out of the gate and when he made his move going up the back straight the final time just couldn't get into the action. Tiger Tara eventually dropped off slightly in the straight to finish fifth. Purdon took particular delight in winning his first Miracle Mile in the sulky: "This is a massive thrill," he said. "This race and this meeting is equivalent to our New Zealand Cup meeting - and they don't get any better than this." Purdon paid tribute to Luke and Belinda McCarthy for letting the All Stars team stay at their Cobbitty base. "It's been a home away from home and all the horses settled in so well there - it's just been fantastic," he said. Sean Vella SVella@clubmenangle.com.au   7 9:28pm AINSWORTH MIRACLE MILE (GROUP 1 - GRAND CIRCUIT EVENT) 1609M $1,000,000 RBD. Mobile Results Pl  Horse Prize- money   Row & Br TAB # Trainer Driver (C = Concession) Mgn (m) Starting odds Stewards' Comments 1 SPANKEM NZ     Fr6 7 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Mark Purdon   $ 4.40   PRS GS L   BAY GELDING 4 by BETTORS DELIGHT USA out of CRUSHEM (NZ) (HOLMES HANOVER USA) Owner(s): G J Kennard, P I Kennard, Breckon Racing Syndicate, J A Gibbs, A Gibbs, G A Woodham, K J Woodham Breeder(s): R K Wah, G Wah 2 THEFIXER NZ     Fr2 2 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Natalie Rasmussen 1.70 $ 3.20 fav  PRS GS 3 POSTER BOY     Fr1 1 Emma Stewart Chris Alford 9.20 $ 4.80   PRS 4 CHASE AUCKLAND NZ     Fr3 3 M Purdon, N C Rasmussen Luke McCarthy 19.80 $ 11.00   PRS 5 TIGER TARA NZ     Fr7 8 Kevin Pizzuto Todd McCarthy 21.10 $ 4.20   PRS RAS 6 MY ALPHA ROCK NZ     Fr5 6 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Lauren Tritton 22.40 $ 81.00   PRS GS 7 YAYAS HOT SPOT NZ     Fr4 4 S P Tritton, L R Tritton Lachie Manzelmann 26.40 $ 151.00   PRS r MY FIELD MARSHAL NZ     Fr8 9 Tim Butt Anthony Butt   $ 14.00   PRS RAS TIRE R VXAR CR SDVC SD/ECG SD14D SD1T Scratchings   OUR UNCLE SAM 5 CRUZ BROMAC NZ 10 Track Rating: GOOD   Gross Time: 1:47:7 Mile Rate: 1:47:7 First Quarter: 26.9 Second Quarter: 28.2 Third Quarter: 27.2 Fourth Quarter: 25.4 Margins: 1.7m x 7.5m  

THEY DOMINATE New Zealand harness racing like no-one ever has before them.   And the powerful All Stars stable struck gold in the first of the pacing group ones at Menangle tonight when outstanding filly Our Princess Tiffany scored a stunning all-the-way in in the $200,000 John Gibson Memorial NSW Oaks. Taken straight to the front from the six gate, Our Princess Tiffany scored her 11th win from just 13 starts and she did it in world record time for a pacing filly, rating a mile rate of 1:53.4 to score by an amazing 16.5m from Victorian Tangoingwithsierra (Todd McCarthy) with Arabella Star (Zac Phillips) another four and three-quarter metres back in third place. The danger to Our Princess Tiffany was expected to come from Emma Stewart's top three-year-old filly Kualoa, who was such a convincing winner in her heat of the Oaks last week. But the barrier worked against Kualoa, even though her reinsman Chris Alford wasted no time getting her into the action, jumping onto the back of Tangoingwithsierra with a lap to go and grabbing a three-wide cart in the race. She found the spot outside the leader but didn't have enough left to stay with the New Zealand filly as her reinsman Natalie Rasmussen put her foot on the gas pedal before the home turn. Our Princess Tiffany had them all off the bit and chasing in no time and increased the margin even further turning into the home stretch, rating her last half in 54.7s for the easiest of wins. Her rivals chased hard but were no match for this outstanding daughter of Art Major, who won as she liked, giving Rasmussen an early double and sounding a warning to rivals that the All Stars stable had come to town and they weren't here for the scenery. Co-trainer Mark Purdon doesn't usually go overboard about his horses but was more effervescent than ever about Our Princess Tiffany, suggesting she might turn out to be the best filly he has had in his care. A massive statement from New Zealand's biggest and most successful stable. Sean Vella SVella@clubmenangle.com.au    

Thefixer may look one of the most unlikely horses to complete pacing's greatest double. But at Menangle tonight he can become just the sixth horse to win the New Zealand Cup and Miracle Mile in the same season. The two races are the greatest, and richest, held in their respective countries with total stakes worth nearly $2 million, no small deal in the harness racing world. But winning both is worth more than money. It earns a horse entry to a club with only five members: Monkey King, Christian Cullen, Chokin, Christopher Vance and Master Mood. They all won the double back when both races were held in November, so form from one race could carry over to the other. Even then it is still a special feat, the Cup being a standing start over 3200m, the Miracle Mile a mobile sprint. They are the long and short of pacing greatness. But no horse has ever done what Thefixer is favoured to do tonight — win the Cup in November then the Miracle Mile nearly four months later. Not that it has been the smoothest of sailing in between. Thefixer was a poor seventh in the Hunter Cup just four weeks ago and his Mile chances looked shattered. But he has adapted to Australia and more particularly Menangle and the way he blew past arch rival Tiger Tara on his home track in the Mile prelude last Saturday suggested he is back to his NZ Cup peak. Add in barrier two and his gate speed on what is, by Miracle Mile standards, a relatively sedate front line and everything has fallen into place for Thefixer. "A month ago we looked in trouble but he has gotten better every step of the way since the Hunter Cup and is back to his best," says champion trainer Mark Purdon. "He is our top chance and if he leads I think Natalie (Rasmussen, driver) will be keen to stay in front." The Purdon-Rasmussen trio for the Mile, the others being Spankem and Chase Auckland, worked well together on Thursday and the boss rates them Thefixer, Spankem and Chase Auckland because of their respective open class experience levels. "And the biggest danger to us is Poster Boy, he is a very good horse." That discounts the Australian superstar of the season Tiger Tara but a mile on his home track has rarely seen his best work and wide barrier draws have been a horror show for punters in Miracle Miles. Purdon is very confident with Our Princess Tiffany (NSW Oaks) and Ashley Locaz (Bohemia Crystal) tonight but says Our Dream About Me's chances in the Ladyship Mile could depend on the start. "She raced a bit dour last week and to be honest I would have preferred barrier two or three rather than one, in case she gets crossed. "But I have given her shorter heat work sessions this week and put the winkers on her to sharpen her up and if she can hold at the start she is the one to beat." By: Michael Guerin Courtesy of he New Zealand Herald

If Tiger Tara is going to complete pacing’s Triple Crown at Menangle on Saturday he is going to have to do it the hard way. After capturing both the Inter Dominion and Hunter Cup this summer the NSW pacer will try to add the A$1million Miracle Mile to give him a sweep of Australia’s three most prestigious races. But this time there is likely to be a huge difference as the great stallion could struggle to secure his favoured pacemaking role. In both of his major wins this season and also the Victoria Cup in October, Tiger Tara was able to lead and driver Todd McCarthy able to increase the tempo over the last 1200m, particularly in the section between the 800m and 400m to get his rivals gasping. But his chances of dictating in the Mile on Saturday night look slim after he drew barrier seven with most of his favoured rivals drawn inside him. Poster Boy, winner of the Chariots of Fire nine days ago came up with the ace draw while Thefixer, who surprisingly divebombed Tiger Tara with sheer speed in beating him in a prelude at Menangle on Saturday night, has barrier two. Add in the wild card entry of Chase Auckland at three and Saturday night’s other Mile prelude winner Spankem from barrier six (after likely scratchings) and Tiger Tara not only has a lot of horses who will want to park him out but also some very quick sit-sprinters who could be sitting around him. The end result is the Tiger Tara is only on the third line of betting at $4.60 alongside Chase Auckland while Poster Boy heads the TAB market at $3.60 and Thefixer at $3.80. Thefixer was superb on Saturday as was Spankem while Chase Auckland snuck into the race after winning race two and because the two third placegetters in the Mile preludes were not deemed to be strong candidates. Thefixer will have co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen in the sulky even though she copped an eight-week suspension on Saturday night for her drive on Chase Auckland in the Chariots Of Fire a week earlier. Most importantly her suspension doesn’t start until after this week’s meeting so she is free to drive Thefixer, with Mark Purdon will drive Spankem and Luke McCarthy on Chase Auckland. Other big winners in the draws for Saturday’s star-studded meeting were Centenario in the NSW Derby and returning NZ star filly Our Princess Tiffany in the NSW Oaks. And Dream About Me will start from the ace draw in the A$200,000 Ladyship Mile in which pre-draw favourite Tell Me Tales fared terribly in the copping the outside of the front line. The field for the $1million Ainsworth Miracle Mile is.—- Poster Boy (1), Thefixer (2), Chase Auckland (3), Yayas Hot Spot (4), Our Uncle Sam (5), My Alpha Rock (6), Spankem (7), Tiger Tara (8), My Field Marshal (9), Cruz Bromac (10). Ems: Our Uncle Sam, Cruz Bromac.   Michael Guerin

Natalie has decided against appealing a heavy suspension over her drive behind Chase Auckland at Menangle last week. After Miracle Mile night next week she will be sidelined for two months at a time when a number of feature events such as the Woodlands Northern Derby on March 8 behind Ultimate Sniper plus a host of other features and wins. The case was heard on Saturday. “I had the certain feeling last week I was in for a suspension and probably a longer one. I was sure they had made up their minds about the charge so I was ready for something like this” “Appealing this sort of charge is a headache anyway with all the coming and going and while I will miss those good races I am rather looking forward to a break from the driving to be honest !” To add insult to injury Natalie was fined $400 on Saturday for her whip use on Thefixer. “I was charged with engaging with the shoulder which was a new one to me. I didn’t feel I’d done anything wrong.” The good news was that the Miracle Mile runners all came through their leadup race well. “Those three boys were especially fresh and good this morning around the paddock and I don’t think they have taken any harm at all.” Natalie said. “The draws are going to help. Luke has driven Chase Auckland a bit over here and is an ideal driver for a race like this” Mark and Natalie both paid a heartfelt tribute to travelling foreman Poi Bowden after Saturday’s success. “He is just such a good operator and a good judge. He was really big on Spankem all week and he knew what he was talking about” Mark said “It is just so important to us to have someone who can tell you exactly where the team is at. Its so valuable especially when we cannot be there all the time. He has played a big role in our success” Natalie was thrilled with the performance of Princess Tiffany especially as she was driven with some reserve. “I knew from Wednesday work at Addington she was ready so I was very confident actually. But I was conscious she hadn’t raced for some time and I didn’t want her to have a real gutbuster a week before the Oaks Final. As it happened she got it both ways. I waited until late but she just sprinted past them like the terrific filly she is. I don’t know what she ran her last quarter in but it was 26.5 off the front which is a good guide !” Ashley Locaz and Cruz Bromac will be in the G1 Bonanza next Saturday and All You Need is Faith in a Free for All having missed a Bonanza start. Ashley Locaz was brave again after being parked in Thefixer’s race and has come through it in his usual no nonsense style. If Mark had one reservation on the night it was Dream About Me, who, like Princess Tiffany, only flew over on Friday. “She went well enough and she ate up well overnight. But she was on and off the bit-more off than on-so that was something to work on” In a career of many firsts this was the first occasion when All Stars had won four races on one night at Menangle major meeting , though going close on occasions.   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

BRING on Round Three! There is a horse that ain't too frightened of the mighty Tiger Tara . . . and his name is Thefixer. The New Zealand Cup winner darted up on the rails to beat Tiger Tara in November's New Zealand Cup and the Kiwi star, with star reinswoman Natalie Rasmussen aboard, was at it again at Menangle tonight winning the Allied Express Sprint, the first of two qualifying races for the Miracle Mile. Thefixer had to earn his stripes, coming from one-out and one-back to register another victory over Australia's best pacer, nabbing Tiger Tara right on the nine to score by a head in a 1:50.7 mile rate. While Tiger Tara will be revved up and ready for next week's return bout in the Ainsworth Miracle Mile, it was the way that Thefixer found the line which will have harness fans assured that next week's $1m Group One is anything but a one-horse race. Taken straight to the front by Todd McCarthy at the start from the inside barrier, it was expected to be a cakewalk for Tiger Tara, chasing his sixth win in succession. After a 28.1s first split of the mile, Todd was able to back off the speed with a 29.5 second split, suggesting the son of Bettors Delight would have too much pace in the run home. The speed went on with a 26.9 third split and as they dashed home in 26.2 Thefixer came with a dash and knuckled down over the last 100m to score by a head from 'The Tiger', with Cash N Flow (Luke McCarthy) one and three-quarter metres back in third place. The winner's stablemate Ashley Locaz was a close fourth. The second Sprint, the Canadian Club Sprint saw an upset right from the start when Kevin Pizzuto's other big hope Majordan bombed the start, losing almost 100m before finishing well out of the placings. The race went to New Zealand's No.1 stable, the All Stars, with Mark Purdon spearing Spankem straight to the front and leading all the way for an impressive victory. With little mid-race pressure, Purdon was able to back off the speed after a 26.1s first split with a 30.4 second quarter and a third split of just 29.4. That enabled the Bettors Delight four-year-old to dash home in 25.6s for a 1:51.5 mile rate in defeating outsider My Alpha Rock (Lauren Tritton) and the winner's stablemate Cruz Bromac (Natalie Rasmussen). That meant six of the eight spots in the Miracle Mile were decided with Club Menangle directors heading into conference to decide the rest of the field. Those already qualified were Newcastle Mile winner Yayas Hot Spot, Chariots Of Fire winner Poster Boy and the first two home in the two sprints, Thefixer and Tiger Tara, Spankem and My Alpha Rock.   FOR MORE INFORMATION TELEPHONE CLUB MENANGLE RACING MANAGER DAVID WONSON ON 0438-398-251.   Mandy Madern

 A testing workout on Wednesday morning has convinced co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen her glamour mares can bounce back in the $100,000 NZ Breeders Stakes at Addington tonight. And she says while Dream About Me may still be the stable's best mare Elle Mac is the one to beat in tonight's 2600m group one. The pair cost punters plenty when they led and trailed but were beaten out of a place in a similar race two week ago. Post-race blood tests suggested a virus which was just starting to come on and, after that was treated, the open class mares have had their workload upped this week.  Rasmussen has spent much of the last month in Australia with partner Mark Purdon preparing their stars for Victorian and NSW assignments but she returned this week to put the polish on some of the stable stars set to race at tonight's big Addington meeting. "I am sure the mares will go better than last start," she explains. "It was just one of those things. The blood tests before the race were fine but the one after wasn't, so it must have been coming on that day. "They are good now and I really liked how they worked on Wednesday morning." Rasmussen drove Elle Mac in that workout as she will tonight and says she narrowly favours her as the stable's best chance because of her front line draw tonight, whereas Dream About Me has to come off the second line. "I would like to think my mare could lead and I'd most likely stay there and that makes it harder for Dream About Me, even though she might still be the better mare." Dibaba, who caused the shock beating the pair last start, looks at least a place chance again but if Elle Mac leads and races up to her national record 1700m setting form of two starts ago it will take a big performance to beat her.  Rasmussen admits to being as happy but not as confident with Ultimate Machete in tonight's Summer Cup, even though he is clearly the best horse in the race. Good enough to sit parked outside and beat Tiger Tara last season, Ultimate Machete has raced sparingly because of hoof issues this season but worked well this week. "We know he is the best horse in the race but being drawn wide and it being 1980m he could have to work very hard so I can see it being a tricky race for him," says Rasmussen. "He is the top pick of our pair in the race but I can't say he is a good thing and if Funatthebeach got the sit on him he could outsprint him." The richest stake of tonight's meeting could come north as Barry Purdon-trained filly Havtime is the hot favourite in a moderate line-up for the $150,000 Sales Series Pace. Barry also has the firepower to dominate the main pace at Alexandra Park tonight, with Jack's Legend and On The Cards a great chance to repeat their last start quinella in the open sprint. Meanwhile, heavy support has seen the Purdon-Rasmussen trained Chase Auckland tighten to favouritism for tomorrow night's A$200,000 Chariots Of Fire at Menangle. "He will be a lot better for his three starts over there and is getting fitter all the time," says Rasmussen. "I will drive him off the gate hard to use his ace draw and hopefully lead or trail and I think he will be hard to beat but it is a strong field." NZ Cup winner Thefixer makes his Menangle debut a race earlier and will be heavily supported but Kiwi horses can often be vulnerable fresh up in fast mile races at Menangle so punters should be careful. Michael Guerin

There is life in the old girl yet.  That is co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen’s view as Dream About Me returns to mares company at Addigton tonight even though she faces a far worse draw than younger, and maybe faster, stablemate Elle Mac.  The pair were two of the stars of the recent Auckland Cup meeting but ended on vastly different notes, Dream About Me below her best in the Auckland Cup the same night Elle Mac set a new national record for 1700m after sitting wide the entire race.  Before that Dream About Me had beaten Elle Mac twice fair and square in mares races at The Park and back to their own sex at Addington tonight, Rasmussen slightly favours Dream About Me again. “I think she has been working well and back at home I think she might have a slight advantage over Elle,” says Rasmussen.  “I know Elle has the better draw but Dream About Me can work in her races. But they are both ready to go well.”  Rasmussen is in Victoria where she will partner Thefixer on what could be a mission impossible in the A$500,000 Hunter Cup at Melton tomorrow night.  While he was brilliant in the Ballarat Cup two weeks ago both he and stablemate Cruz Bromac, along with fellow Kiwi pacer Star Galleria, start from the second line while Tiger Tara is drawn to lead from barrier three in the 2760m mobile.“If Tiger Tara leads and races up to his best form this season we might be running for second and third,” suggests Rasmussen.  “We are really happy with our pair but at his best, when he is in front, Tiger is very very hard to beat, as we saw in the Inter Dominion final.”  But all hope is not lost.  “There are a couple of times this season when he (Tiger Tara) hasn’t raced up to that form and that is what we have to hope for on Saturday night — he doesn’t go as good as he can and we get some luck.”  The All Stars also have a strong four-year-old at Menangle in Sydney, where they expect big improvement from last season’s best three-year-old Chase Auckland in an M0 race.  He blew out when fresh up for a long time last Saturday but has worked better since show looks a far better chance tomorrow night while Ashley Locaz looks set to guarantee himself a place in the A$200,000 Chariots Of Fire on February 16 by winning A$50,000 Hondo Grattan.  “He might even be our best chance in the Chariots of Fire because he is flying at the moment.” Michael Guerin

BEING the All Stars’ second-best three-year-old could be enough to make Im Another Masterpiece the stable’s third Victoria Derby winner. Mark Purdon won his first Victoria Derby when Tony Herlihy partnered Rare Gem to win in 2001 then it wasn’t until the awesome Lazarus in 2016 when he won it again. But Im Another Masterpiece made a real statement winning by far the strongest of the three heats and doing it in style at Ballarat last Saturday night. Driver and co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen was content to let Shane and Lauren Tritton’s buzz pacer Muscle Factory lead and sit on it, but things changed when Im Another Masterpiece left the trail to sit parked with a lap to run. In doing so, Rasmussen avoid being pocketed on a track without a sprint lane but also kept another key contender, Centenario, three-wide for the final lap. “You don’t come all this way to be unlucky,” Rasmussen said. “You have to run top three and I wasn’t going to to run a nice hard-held fourth on the fence. “It was a nice win and the run should tighten him up for the final.” Back home, Im Another Masterpiece has played second-fiddle to gifted stablemate Ultimate Sniper, who is being saved for the NSW Derby next month. Im Another Masterpiece simply packed too much zip for his rivals in a scorching 54.9sec last half and won by 2.9m from Muscle Factory with a gallant Lochinvar Art third after doing plenty of work outside the leader for much of the race. In the talent-crammed heat, Centenario tired for sith and missed the final, while stablemate Demon Delight was only first emergency for the final after finishing a luckless fifth. Im Another Masterpiece went a 1min55.9sec mile rate for 2200m, while the first heat winner, Breeders Crown 2YO champ Hurricane Harley, led throughout win softly in a 1min56.8sec mile rate. The third heat was a dawdle early for leader and winner Max Delight, who sprinted home in 26.5sec at the end of a slow 2min0.4sec mile rate to win by 2.8m over Perfect Major and Petes Big Jim. The Aussie TAB has Hurricane Harley a slight $2.60 pre-draw favourite ahead of Im Another Masterpiece at $2.70 then the other heat winner, Max Delight, at $4.50. Adam Hamilton

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