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Driven by Tim Williams, More The Better, the winner of twelve races and over $500,000 proved to be too strong in the Group Three Yardhurst Hotel Northern Southland Trotting Cup. Owned by co-trainer Mark Purdon, his father Roy Purdon MBE and David Levene OBE, the four year old entire was having his first start for the season. “His three year old season wasn’t as good as we'd hoped. He was a fanastic two year old. He seems to have come back just as good as he was at two. We’ve been happy with his trials and we were very confident today,” said stable manager for the Purdon/Rasmussen stable Michelle Neilson. Neilson says as a young horse he raced over the shorter sprint distances but his forte is staying races. “Our next aim is the Easter Cup at the end of the month at Addington. He’s a strong horse so it’s nice to slow him down a bit. They race a bit over short trips as young horses so the distance won’t be any worries for him now.” After beginning well from the twenty metre mark Williams settled More The Better in seventh place as the field settled into single file. With 1200 metres to run he decided to move around the field and for the last lap he sat parked beside leader My Wee Man. Inside the last 400 metres these two runners cut away from the field and were both in for the fight. But More The Better proved too good.  Williams had only to run the reins over his rump to win by three and a half lengths from a late charging Buster Brady. A brave My Wee Man was a nose back in third. “He’s got great manners and he won today with the plugs still in.” This is the second time Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have won the Northern Southland Cup. They won with Isaiah in 2015. His time of 3-20.1 is a race record. The winning time today was 3-22.6.  Sponsor Dave McHugh, his wife Glenda, and Michelle Neilson  - Photo Bruce Stewart.  More The Better is out of the In The Pocket mare Lucky Pocket which is a full sister to Christian Cullen. The win by More The Better caps off a very profitable two days for the Purdon/Rasmussen All Stars stables. They starters thirteen runs at two race meeting (Auckland and Invercargill) winning eight races and stakes of $347,900. Driver Tim Williams scored three wins at the Northern Southland meeting and one in Auckland.  Bruce Stewart Southland harness racing    

The royally bred Luby Lou trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen won the first ever Southland Trotting Oaks at Ascot Park today. The race was sponsored by Haras des Trotteurs. “She trotted pretty fluently and was happy, so that was the main thing. I’ve driven her in three of her trials this preparation so I’ve had a bit to do with her, that always helps. Marks done a super job with her,” said winning driver Tim Williams. By Muscle Hill, the three year old filly is raced by Breckon Farms - Six of the Best Syndicate. She's the first foal out of the Andover Hall mare Luby Ann which won four races from eighteen starts for Mark Purdon. In one of her wins she beat the mighty Stent at Ashburton. Tim Williams talking to Trackside presenter Jason Teaz, Stable Manager Michelle Neilson, Northern Southland President Bill McDonald and Dave Sanders from Haras des Trotteurs  - Photo Bruce Stewart.    In today's trotting features for three year old fillies, Williams took Luby Lou straight to the top with favourite Renezmae hard on his back. At the end of the 2200 metres only five runners were in with a show of winning and Luby Lou proved too dominant beating Renezmae by a length and a quarter.  “She was happy in front and she’s got a bit of quality.” The winning time of 2-47.9 was a new track record. The previous record of 2-50.2 was jointly held by Kumbya (2006) and Avenge (2001). Bruce Stewart Southland harness racing    

Tim Williams likes going to work on New Years Eve. Which is handy because he knows better than anybody how much he has that work cut out for him in tomorrow’s $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Trotting Cup. Williams is the 28-year-old third-string driver for the all-conquering All Stars stables, which means his driving career can take some unusual twists and turns. Take tomorrow’s Cup for example. Williams would be watching from the driver’s room had boss Mark Purdon not been suspended for 26 days but instead he is driving the slightly mad Heaven Rocks.  Just six days ago Williams partnered Auckland Cup red hot favourite Vincent to win at Cambridge, but tomorrow co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen jumps back on, leaving Williams knowing exactly what he is up against. But you never hear Williams moan about his role in harness racing’s biggest stable.  “I have had some amazing opportunities, like driving Vincent last Sunday, so I know better than most how hard he will be to beat this week,” says Williams.  “But I can’t worry about him, I have my own job to do.” Williams is good at doing his job on New Years Eve, with two of the richest wins of his career coming at the year ender. He won the Auckland Cup two years ago on Have Faith In Me, a drive Purdon could easily have taken for himself but instead he waited for a successful Williams appeal hearing before staying loyal to the young man. Williams piloted the same horse to win the Sales Series Pace on New Years Eve the previous year. “New Years Eve at The Park has been a happy hunting ground for me,” he smiles. “And I’m lucky to have some good drives again.”Heaven Rocks and Williams have a hate-love relationship: He hates the fact they have combined four times for exactly no wins but Williams would love to change that. Their latest disaster was in the Franklin Cup two weeks ago when Heaven Rocks, galloped, led, hung badly and then galloped again. “Mark has been here working him this week and I hope he can do his magic but a lot with him depends on his body language on the day, he is just that sort of horse. “My first job is to get him away and then I hope we can get around them and make a race of it with Vincent because it would make for a great spectacle.” So can the star he drives tomorrow beat the superstar he drove last Sunday? “Um, maybe. But it will be very, very hard for us to beat him.” Not so hard is tomorrow’s $100,000 National Trot, which has been ravaged by drop outs over the last two months to the point where there look to be three serious winning hopes. One of those is Kyvalley Blur, the Victorian veteran who Williams drove to beat Speeding Spur fair and square at Cambridge last Sunday. There wasn’t a lot between the pair but Kyvalley Blur outstayed his more favoured rival and the 2700m mobile gives him a shot at doing so again, although their career records suggest Speeding Spur is still the better horse. “He trotted beautifully last Sunday and I can’t see why he couldn’t win again but it might come down to who has the luck out of my fella, Speeding Spur and Temporale, who is going well too,” says Williams. Add in A Lister (race one), Stress Factor (race three), The Devils Own (race seven), Delight In Me (race eight) and Ashley Locaz (race 12) and it would surprise if Williams didn’t leave Alexandra Park a New Years Eve winner again.  Which would be the perfect way to end a tough year during which he missed 12 weeks in the sulky after shoulder surgery and came back short on confidence and in need of some time back out on the track. “It was hard coming back and maybe my timing was just a bit off and I was struggling to win races.” That fact is impossible to deny, Williams has driven just five winners this season but 20 second placings, and that figure would be even more disproportionate if it wasn’t for last Sunday’s double. “It was very frustrating but last week’s double came just as the right time and and is a nice confidence boost. ” Right on cue for Tim’s time -- New Year’s Eve. Michael Guerin

Tim Williams will be driving Vincent at today's Cambridge Harness racing meeting while Mark and Natalie are holidaying in Australia with family.  Tim said on the All Stars Website" Vincent doesn't do much wrong and is a relaxed horse who gives you a bit more confidence.  I hope it works out because he qualifies for the Chariots if he wins".  Nathan Purdon does the driving duties against Vincent on stablemate Partyon. Nathan said,"I am not expecting Partyon to beat Vincent -I don't know anything can beat Vincent-but she has done well since her last race and she will go a good one. She has come ahead a lot since being on this trip. She was a bit portly earlier because she had had a good spell but she is really fining up now.   "However I do think I've got a chance to win with SHENANDOAH.  This is a good race for her and she has the draw to either set the pace or trail and get a last crack at them. A LISTER is a smart filly too and will be hard to beat at her best but I just feel Shenandoah could turn it around here", he said. The hardest for the Purdon/Rasmussen duo to beat will be the in form Star Galleria with Tony herlihy doing the driving. He is drawn inside Vincent and will likely lead early in the race.       _____________________________________________________________________________________ All Stars juvenile, Jesse Duke, the only stable contender for the early Young Gun heat in Auckland on December 31, will be worked behind at galloping pacemaker at Cambridge Sunday to further his preparation. "He is doing well. He had a workout last weekend but it wasn't a major so a trip to the track and a workout on Sunday will help him along" said Tim Williams who is managing the 18 strong northern team. Jesse Duke the latest promising sort raced by Jean Feiss, won a trial at Ashburton on December 5 without being pushed before heading north. The Woodlands Stud bred colt was a huge seller at the National Sales last season fetching $220,000. His grandam Adios Dream was an outstanding juvenile and closely related to Courage Under Fire as well as Delightful Memphis who spent last season chasing Spanish Armada home in feature races. Jesse Duke been near the "head of his class" at Rolleston right through and should not take long to impress on raceday. Harnesslink Media Courtesy All Stars Stables    

Don't read too much into hotshot driver Natalie Rasmussen turning her back on Heaven Rocks for the $50,000 Lincoln Farms Franklin Cup at Alexandra Park tonight. The co-trainer says the enigmatic star pacer is still the one to beat, even though she has jumped off him to drive Vincent. The pair dominate betting on the 2700m standing start event as Alexandra Park's summer season goes up a notch with its first premier meeting of the season, while the track backs up with another meeting tomorrow night to cater for its huge Christmas bookings. Rasmussen and Mark Purdon train Vincent and Heaven Rocks but a driver reshuffle was forced after Purdon was suspended for 26 days on Inter Dominion night last Friday.   Purdon would have driven Vincent, last season's best three-year-old, in his comeback race but with him sidelined Rasmussen felt compelled to. "It is a tricky situation with Mark out because there is a lot of pressure driving a horse like Vincent fresh up and I don't think it is fair to put that pressure on somebody else," she explained. "He is ready to race and there to win but I think he is a false favourite and don't want him driven like a $2 chance because he probably isn't ready for that. "Of course he can win because he is a very good horse but I think Heaven Rocks is our better chance because he was so good last Friday and should be even fitter. "It is just a very tricky race for Vincent fresh up." Heaven Rocks will be partnered by Tim Williams, who admits he hasn't had great success on the nutcase pacer before. But he has been doing all the work with him in the north over the last two weeks. Add in Jack's Legend back on his home track, the improving AG's White Socks and Titan Banner, now back with Purdon-Rasmussen, and tonight's race will be a huge pointer to what to expect in the Auckland Cup on December 31. With Williams being in charge of the All Stars northern assault, he has been charged with getting Partyon's mind back on the job for tonight's group one $100,000 Rosslands Queen Of Hearts. The multiple group one winner looked lazy when a fresh up fourth last Friday in a race where Bonnie Joan was outstanding but there has been good early money to suggest that result can be reversed tonight. "She needed a bit of a sharpen up and she got that this week," said Williams. "I worked her in block blinds this week to get her mind on the job and she sprinted up the straight well with Vincent in her work. "She will race in sliding blinds on Friday and we expect her to improve a lot." One horse who won't need to improve is the stable rep in the $50,000 Alabar Classic in Chase Auckland. Owned by the race sponsors, the exciting three-year-old has barrier one and should remain unbeaten. The three-year-old fillies clash in the $85,000 Peter Breckon Memorial looks far more even but Bettor Joy deserves favouritism after a mammoth win last Friday while the main trot sees the return of Speeding Spur. Like Vincent in the Franklin Cup, Speeding Spur is good enough to win fresh up but he needs only one key rival getting an easy trip on the markers to be beaten. Michael Guerin

Today the Oamaru harness racing club will again host the Brothers In Arms driving series. Jay and Sailesh Abernethy who dominated the series last year are back to defend their title in a five-race competition against five sets of brothers at the grass track meeting. Also competing in the series are local drivers Matthew and Brad Williamson, as well as Peter and Hamish Hunter, Dexter and John Dunn, Craig and Chris Thornley and Gerard and Leo O'Reilly. Last year the Abernethy brothers easily won the series, with Sailesh winning three races and Jay winning one. The likeable Abernethy brothers also won the series in 2014. ________________________________________________________________________________________ The Mark Purdon/Natalie Rasmussen trained Major Shard may have booked his ticket to Auckland for the major races in the next few months by winning last nights NRM Sires Stakes Silver for 3yo's. Natalie Rasmussen said on the All Stars Website, "we would have to consider for the Sales race in Auckland on his run tonight and probably he would go now" Last night Major Shard trailed for the last lap before zipping up the passing lane for driver Tim Williams and winning well by more than one length at the line. Tim said after the race, " Major Shard is very good when he is good. He worked to the front and when he got the gap he went thru it strongly." Major Shard paced the 1950m in a quick 1-54.7 mile rate with a closing 800m in a sizzling 54.4 seconds. Henry Hubert ran home strongly for second for driver John Dunn.   Major Shard winning last night.   Harnesslink Media

Top harness racing trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, appear to hold all the cards in tonights NRM Sires Stakes Heat 3 at Addington Raceway. The powerful All Stars stable have a team of four horses entered for the $22,000 heat tonight and all are good chances in what will be a hotly contested race. Unbeaten Auckland Reactor gelding "Chase Auckland" is currently the TAB fixed odds favourite at $1.90 . TAB bookmaker Stephen Richardson said "We took a bet of $2000 to win on him just after the market opened last night and he might close shorter than what he is at now." Chase Auckland will be driven again by Natalie Rasmussen, who said on the All Stars website, "The Sires Stakes heat on Friday is going to be a fascinating race and not just for the public. It will also be a major guide to us because there are a couple of questions we are looking forward to finding the answers to as well." "Chase Auckland is my drive but this is is big test. It is one thing to be dealing to maiden and one win fields and another to line up against horses like in this field. He has the draw and I guess I would be using that otherwise I could end up locked up on the pegs but there will be quite a bit of movement in the race I would say." The two win, unbeaten pacer has drawn handily in barrier two tonight, which will aid his chances in getting a handy spot early, with second favourite Spankem drawn to follow him through from the second line. Spankem ($3.70) and The Devils Own ($4.20) both performed well in the 2yo Sires Stakes heats and final earlier in the year and are worthy second and third favourites. The Devils Own ran a meritorious second behind Pats Delight two weeks ago at Addington in the second Sires Stakes Heat and will again be driven by stable driver Tim Williams. Mark Purdon will take the reins on Spankem, who looks ready to run a big race, after a good third at the trials last week behind the Cran Dalgety trained Bonnie Joan. All U Need Is Faith is the fourth runner from the stable and is fresh up from a win two weeks ago. He can not be discounted either. as he was not far behind The Devils Own and Spankem in the 2yo Sires Stakes series last year and looks to be a better horse this season. Add in the Robert Dunn trained Alta Maestro, plus Aloka and a host of other top form horses and you get an intriguing race, full of quality and one of the best 3yo fields you could hope to see anywhere in the country.    Harnesslink Media

Giant five year old mare Machjagger is tough but needs a good draw to show her best ,according to Ryal Bush harness racing trainer Brett Gray. "She does go good when she gets a good draw and she probably hasn't had one since she won at Waikouaiti," he said after the Justa Tiger mare won her third race at Ascot Park today. Driver Tim Williams took the mare straight to the lead and she held on to beat My Georgie Boy by two and three quarter lengths. "She's just better on top. She's often hard to get there because she doesn't have a lot of gait speed."    Machjagger winning her third race at Ascot Park                              - Photo Bruce Stewart Gray was quick to give some of the credit for todays win to Oreti Beach trainer Paul 'Tank' Ellis.  "She's been out on the beach for the last couple of weeks with Tank wading in the water. She's had a bit of a big leg and Tank's done a great job. It's been good giving her an environment change to keep the wheels rolling. She's also had a few feet issues. A bit of beach therapy does wonders."  Machjagger is part owned by Stu Sloan of Tussock Creek who was on-course to see the mare win today. She's out of the Mach Three mare Mach N Elle which is also the dam of eight win gelding Darcee. The win was the twenty second for Gray who leads the Southland Trainers Premiership by five wins over last year's winner Nathan Williamson.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Those chasing the second quaddie at Invercargill on Sunday will find it hard to go past Major Hippie as an anchor in the last leg. The three year old son of Art Major from team All Stars debuted at Winton a fortnight ago and from five off the gate gave nothing else a chance of claiming the lead. Completing the 2400 metre trip in 2:55.3, Major Hippie ran home from the 800 in 57.6 and was going so well, driver Tim Williams didn't have to activate the removable deafeners.  Matt Anderson will be in charge on Sunday and that's not the only change. The grandson of Hot Shoe Shuffle goes from five on the second line and this week, all his opposition have been winners, some up to three times. However, Major Hippie looks well equipped to overcome such factors in his final hit-out before next week's group two Southern Supremacy Stakes. While labelling the last quaddie leg looks straight forward, getting there doesn't. The third leg is full of quality runners and a spread looks essential. Mongolian Storm returns to the scene of his most recent victory after battling the big-boys in his past two and will be competitive again. G I Joe is back to the mobile after breaking at the stand-start last time in his first race for nine months. After settling well back in the New Zealand record run 2400 at Winton, his bold finish for third was eye-catching. Seaswift Joy is near the top of the best three year old fillies around nationwide and has the ability to cope with this line-up, even after starting from the outside of the front line. Those three look the class acts but there are others to consider. Baileys Knight has drawn one and looked good last time at Winton. Delight My Soul is at the top of her game but often neglected by punters. It Ain't The Money goes from the inside of the second line in just his second go this year. In his first, he drew out in a strong field at Winton, went back and was held up while the leaders sped away. Jimmy Mack will need favours from the outside draw but is a genuine competitor. The second leg is a 2200 metre handicap trot and while the spread in quality from front to back is massive, twice round Ascot Park doesn't give the handicap runners much time to catch up. For all that, Moment Of Sun, Jen Jaccka and Pyramid Magic are needed but places found also for Another Delight and Overcast. Sunday's second quaddie opens with an R47 to R52 mobile 2200 and the ultra-consistent Navajo Art looks a ready-made favourite. He has drawn 10 and that may not help his task but he was placed from the same draw in his previous start on the track. Just Wish and Cullens Avenue have to contend with draws on the outside of the second line but with reasonable trips can be in the finish. Andrew Armour has a runner at Ascot Park again in Happy Styx, who brings Canterbury form south, while if looking for longer odds, Jabali is not the worst.   Mac Henry

Their careers are the classic tale of two halves and now punters have to decide who wins the next chapter of More The Better versus Ultimate Machete.  The pair dominate the market for tonight’s $250,000 Woodlands Derby at Alexandra Park, even poor barrier draws not enough to suggest their less glamorous rivals can down them.  But which one of the All Stars pair grabs the Derby could come down to timing, as it has most of their careers.  They have met eight times for four wins a piece with a very clear demarcation line ---  up till November it was 4-0 to More The Better, the quicker and more natural youngster of the pair.  Then the balance of power transferred to the bigger, stronger Ultimate Machete as he brutalized his stablemate in the Sires‘ Stakes Final at Addington and three times at the Alexandra Park December carnival.  Back then it was hard to make a case More The Better would ever win a fair fight over his stablemate again but three-year-old seasons tend to be full of ups and downs as the protagonists strengthen, weaken, grow and the rigours of racing and  traveling take their toll.  Ultimate Machete was good but not startling by his standards when second in the NSW Derby last start whereas More The Better dazzled with a second against the elite older horses in the Founders last Friday.  Maybe he now holds the upper hand tonight and gets his chance to take a 5-4 lead in their personal battle?  “It is hard to choose between them because they both have tricky draws but it was hard not to impressed by what More The Better did last week,” says stable foreman Tim Williams.  “He is really well but then again Ultimate Machete was also good in the NSW Derby. So it might come down to luck.”  Ultimate Machete has barrier eight but if and when driver Natalie Rasmussen gets serious it is hard to imagine any of her rivals parking her so it might still be in front with a lap to go.  That makes him the horse to beat, unless More The Better gets there first and is the one sitting on his back.  Punters could do worse than simply back both and be happy with a small profit because on all eight occasions they have raced, one or the other has won.  In a deep field, Jacks Legend appeals as the best place value as he has chased the big two home twice in feature races this season.  The City Of Auckland Free-For-All rivals the Derby for race of the night with the well drawn trio of Smolda (2), Waikiki Beach (barrier three) and The Orange Agent (1) set to control the race.  Smolda deserves top billing after a magnificent summer all over Australasia and he did win this race last season. With new found gate speed and respect he could well end up in front.  The Orange Agent was a fine comeback third last Friday and has the speed to threaten while Waikiki Beach worked well this week and his last-start Miracle Mile fourth indicates he can win his Alex Park debut.  Alta Maestro holds most of the aces in the Young Guns Final so what beats him probably wins but the fillies final is very even, with favourites Bettor Joy and New York Rain facing second line draws.  Add in a well-balanced Greenlane Cup and the unpredictable Heaven Rocks in the support programme and the meeting is one of Alexandra Park’s best of the season. Michael Guerin

A simple nod towards Smolda’s head was all it took for Tim Williams to hammer home his point after yesterday’s Methven Cup. Walking back to the stables after the big gelding’s victory in the $35,000 Methven Cup yesterday afternoon Williams pointed toward his charges head, and in particular his ear plugs, which were still firmly in place. “I didn’t pull them. I didn’t feel like I had too,” Williams said.  It looked that easy too. Smolda overcame a midrace move to sit up outside Mossdale Conner before working to the lead at the 1000 metre mark and then suffering an extended period of attack around the final bend from Quick As A Trick before he had the audacity to run away from those chasing him at the top of the straight to win by a comfortable one and a half lengths. “He was very good today, you can just feel him getting better and better every time he goes to the race,” Williams said. “When I got up to parked at the winning post with a lap to run he got quite keen and wanted to get going. “That’s why we pressed on to find the top, he was just travelling that well. “Then when Quick As A Trick came up to us he got all lazy and I had to chase him along to wake him up.” Seel The Deal, fresh from a minor wind operation, was best of those behind the might of Smolda – emerging from three back the fence on the home bend to unwind stylishly while Titan Banner was a brave third. The talk of the race though was the run of the C2 pacer, Johnny Eyre, who despite being three grades below the next horse in the race, produced a bobby dazzler to run fourth – and be slightly unlucky in the process. Sunday’s win should see Smolda shorten for the New Zealand Trotting Cup – an occasion that Smolda’s owners, Phil & Glenys Kennard, Neil Pilcher and Marcus Kirkwood can’t wait to get back to. “Running second last year after missing away and all that was a little hard to swallow,” Phil Kennard said. “But we just love Cup Day so much and can’t wait to have a couple of chances in the Cup.” Half an hour earlier Mike Austin and Blair Orange combined to cause one of the big upsets of the day when Twelve Monkeys gave some of New Zealand’s best trotting mares a bit of a hiding in the fillies and mares’ trotting event. The daughter of Monkey Bones emerged late from the pack and unwound brilliantly to win by three and three quarter lengths. Stephen Kennedy also had plenty of reasons to smile when he produced his first training win courtesy of Quest Star’s win in the maiden trot. Driven by Gerard O’Reilly the Monarchy six-year-old emerged from the pack late in the piece to run down Rusty I Am in the shadows of the post.    Matt Markham

He might hold the classification of All Stars “third stringer” but there’s no way Smolda is just some johnny-come-lately. Last year’s New Zealand Trotting Cup runner-up is flying under the radar so far in this build up to the second Tuesday in November as he chips away in the shadows of his high-class stablemates; Have Faith In Me and Lazarus. But the man charged with steering the the Smolda ship this season says that no one should be prepared to let their guard down on the wonderful horse. “He’s a great horse and you would leave him out at your own peril I think,” Tim Williams said. The next phase in the Cup preparation comes tonight (Friday) at Addington in the Canterbury Classic and Williams is amped to get back behind Smolda and try to upset the apple cart. While his stablemates were both in clear air and getting home stylishly in the New Brighton Cup a couple of weeks ago, Smolda was held up behind a wall of horses. And was fair travelling too. When the gap finally did appear, the old boy grabbed the bit and charged - his final 75 metres equally as impressive as the efforts of his stablemates in many eyes. “I never got the chance to pull the plugs, but when he got that little bit of room he really took off. “It was probably not an idea situation first up, but we did get the run under the belt we needed.” Williams has a little more inside knowledge on his two main rivals tonight than pretty much anyone else and he also has the added bonus of having driven both Lazarus and Have Faith In Me. He won twice on Lazarus during his two-year-old season and was the initial driver of Have Faith In Me before Natalie Rasmussen took over late last season. “They are both great horses, exceptional horses in fact. But I believe that if things can go my way that Smolda can beat them under the right circumstances. “My fella has definitely come on with that run under his belt, he’s really improved off the back of it. But so have the other two as well so it’s going to be a big ask this week.” The key to success will be a clean pair of heels from behind the barrier strand and there’s some confidence there that he can do it too. “He just didn’t quite catch it the other night and missed it slightly. “But when he gets on the right foot he will begin quickly and if he can do that this week well he’s going to be right in it. “The good thing is that he can make his own luck if we need him too, so we are going to get a better line on where he is at after we get through this week. “I’ll be happy if he’s finding the line again, that’s all I want.” An $8.50 chance with bookmakers last night, there’s some tidy each way value on offer around Smolda this week. Lazarus and Have Faith In Me are dominating the market, but both still have question marks over their stand start manners.   Matt Markham

Tim William's Tips GI JOE  looks hard to beat again at Addington. He has had a good week and lets face it he was good enough to run in the classic races earlier so he should be up to this class all going well.  He won fairly easily at Ashburton and should have another start or two before the end of the season.  He is my only drive on Friday. We had a couple of expensive yearlings come back from Diane's down south, relations to Pacing Major and Fight for Glory. They didn't go cheap so it will be interesting to see how they go. We have had a busy week but a good one overall with a lot of the yearlings now getting schooled up. Our racing team will be fairly light as usual and I think Augusta might go into the spelling paddock after Friday. That has yet to be decided. The Manipulator is back on Sunday and Mr Mojito has resumed work with us and will be ready for a race or two before the end of the season, Matt Anderson's Message AUGUSTA  looks a real good chance on paper though I wouldn't describe him as any special at this stage of his career. He is quite a big horse who is going to benefit a lot with a spell and he will probably have one after Friday. He is a good chance but if he were to be beaten it wouldn't affect my opinion of him. I am giving a push to CELESTIAL ARDEN even though I can't see GI Joe beaten really I think my drive might be the quinella. I am quite bullish about its chances really and he could be a bit of value too.  GOTTA DEL is my other drive. One start for one win is hard to beat but there is a step up in class here. We won't die wondering. The plan is to use the draw so we will be going forward and we will see what happens. Reprinted with premission

The All Stars stable of Mark Purdon​ and Natalie Rasmussen have now lined up runners in three races at Cambridge and won them all. Their third winner of Jewels day has come in race five, the Group I $150,000 three-year-old Diamond with Piccadilly Princess for stable driver Tim Williams. Golden Goddess and Rasmussen won the battle for the lead but Williams settled his filly perfectly in the trail and when she got her chance up the passing lane she bolted through to win by half a length over Golden Goddess. "I'm very lucky to be working for such a wonderful stables, and being able to drive some super horses for great owners. Credit needs to go to all the staff, as we couldn't do this without them all" said Tim. "We got a perfect trip, but it was never going to be easy considering the filly in front is very talented" Race favourite Dream About Me was flying home late to finish third, half a length behind Golden Goddess, but after drawing the inside of the second line she was always struggling. Purdon and Dream About Me were stuck four deep on the fence for most of the trip. Piccadilly Princess paced the mile in 1:53.09, 56.8, 28.5, with 1/2 length back to Golden Goddess (Natalie Rasmussen) and 1/2 a length back to a super unlucky Dream About Me in 3rd. Mat Kermeen/Andrew Fitzgerald  

Melton harness racing debutante driver Tim Williams gave A Piccadilly Princess a brisk breather and then revved her up for a scintillating win in the Nevele R Stud Victoria Oaks at Tabcorp Park Melton. The dip from the breeze to the box seat was described as “the winning move” by the connections of another Mark Purdon-trained Group 1 triumph, having overrun Emma Stewart’s super three-year-old filly Heavens Trend in the straight.  “It was a great performance,” Williams, 26, said of A Piccadilly Princess, who recorded a fifth straight victory and a seventh in 13 starts. “I’m privileged to be able to sit behind these horses with these colours on. I can’t thank Mark enough.” The filly by Bettor's Delight out of Hyde Park Royal had to earn the win. Flojos Gold flew out of the gates and was then crossed by Gavin Lang on Heavens Trend when they reached the back straight. As that was happening up front, down back Dancingwithsierra led A Piccadilly Princess three-wide, with the latter settling in the breeze outside Heavens Trend. “We got a good cart into it and that made a difference,” Williams said. There they remained through a 59.7 first half-mile before Lang stretched out on Heavens Trend in a 27.2 third quarter, with A Piccadilly Princess losing touch approaching the final bend and Williams dropping her on to the tail of the leader. “I thought I was in a wee bit of trouble,” Williams said. “It was a timely breather.” Having given more than a length, A Piccadilly Princess found new life down the straight, with the filly putting her nose in front at the 100m and advancing to win by 2.2m from Heavens Trend. Stewart’s other hope, Celebrity Guest, put in an enormous last 200m to draw from the pegs to the outside and storm home into third, relegating a resilient Dancingwithsierra to a close fourth. With some having flown in from Hong Kong for the race, a proud group of owners, including Simon Bradley, Michael Ward and Thomas Patterson, were on hand to accept the coveted Oaks. Patterson said Williams decision to provide their filly brief cover at the top of the straight may have made all the difference. “Coming around the bend we were a little concerned, but Tim was obviously confident he still had a little in her,” Patterson said. “He ducked in and I thought that the other one, Heavens Trend, had got away from us. But Mark and Nat and the team believe in what they have and Tim didn’t panic and it worked out and was probably the winning move.” Patterson said A Piccadilly Princess would return to Purdon’s New Zealand stable for a likely tilt at the New Zealand Oaks and a potential collision with stunning stablemate Our Dream About Me, who won the New South Wales Oaks. Cody Winnell    

The second $18,700 Sires Stakes heat for two year old fillies was held at the Easter harness racing meeting at Addington Raceway last night and in a surprise upset for many on course, the very well performed Delightful Memphis lost her unbeaten record. Driver Blair Orange was very bullish about the chances of Delightful Memphis prior to the race, stating he thought she had an edge over the four All Stars runners in the heat. " On what I have seen around the trials and on raceday, I think Delightful Memphis has got an edge on the competition and should win," Blair said. When Mark Purdon was going through the chances of his four runners in the heat on Trackside, he made the observation about how pleased he was with the run of Renske B at Invercargill when she ran second to Delightful Memphis. " Renske B was parked the whole way at Invercargill with Delightful Memphis on her back." " I thought if you switched the runs the two fillies got, that Renske B would have come out on top, Mark said. And that is exactly what happened last night. Flying Miss Mac and Dexter Dunn worked to the lead after 300 metres and that left Delightful Memphis facing the breeze, which she had to do for the whole race. Hard on her back was Renske B and Tim Williams and as they turned for home, Tim eased her out and slowly but surely took ground off Delightful Memphis and grabbed her just short of the winning post for a memorable victory. The margin of half a neck could have been a lot healthier if Renske B hadn't laid in badly a couple of times in the straight, costing her ground and momentum both times. The daughter of Mach Three has been a model of consisitentcy throughout her brief racing career with last nights win her second from just four starts and along with two placings took her stake earnings over the $29,000 mark. She paced the 1950 metres last night in 2:25.2, a mile rate of 1:59.9 with smart closing sectionals of 56.5 and 27.8 Delightful Memphis lost no friends in defeat with such a game effort while Smiley Sophie made a promising debut in running into third late. At this stage there doesn't appear to be a lot between Delightful Memphis and Renske B and as last night race showed, it may be the draw that decides a lot of their clashes in the next few weeks. Harnesslink Media

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