All Stars return in winning style
Champion NZ harness racing trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen are unlikely to have a starter in the $A200,000 Victoria Cup on October 14, despite running first and third in the New Brighton Cup at Addington on Saturday.
The All Stars stable again starred with their return to NZ feature racing with 2015 Auckland Cup and 2016 Miracle Mile winner Have Faith In Me having the last say from a handy spot on the outer, to defeat front-running exstablemate Titan Banner and last year’s Auckland Cup winner Dream About Me.
The stable, which also has last year’s New Zealand Cup winner Lazarus set to return soon, is completely focused on the $800,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup at Addington on November 14.
‘‘I’m a bit hesitant to look at the Victoria Cup,’’ said co-trainer Mark Purdon. ‘‘The NZ Cup is our main focus. If we go over there it’s just one race. They could get a bug or something else could go wrong and I wouldn’t want to undo their preparations for the NZ Cup.’’
Have Faith In Me, who became the fastest horse in Australasia with his 1:47.5 win in the Miracle Mile at four, didn’t quite return to the same heights last term, but Purdon is happy with him after winning his six-year-old return to racing.
‘‘I had three vets look at him at the end of his racing last season and the last one I was really happy with. We injected his hocks and he’ll have maintenance with them every few months, but that could have been the reason why his gait wasn’t perfect earlier.’’
Training co-partner and top strike-rate driver Natalie Rasmussen gave Have Faith In Me a perfect drag into the finish on the back of Dream About Me (parked) over the final lap and he showed all his old speed to win by half a length in 3:14.7 for the stand start 2600m, the leaders running their last 800m in 55.4s.
Have Faith In Me has now won 16 of 33 lifetime starts for $1.46 million in stakes for Auckland owners Mark and Dennis Dunford. Mark Purdon, driving Dream About Me, said the top racemare would derive plenty of benefit from the race.
The all-conquering All Stars unleashed another promising type in debutante, Chase Auckland, who led and won untested by 5 lengths in the hands of Rasmussen in a 1:58.8 rate (1950m). Backed down to $1.50 win favouritism, the gelded son of a former stable star in Auckland Reactor is raced by the Alabar Racing Syndicate.
‘‘He is Sires Stakes eligible but it will be a big jump to that level for him,’’ said Purdon. ‘‘But Auckland Reactor didn’t race until he was three and the horse has only had one race.’’
Beachbabebeauty was another smart Sires Stakes eligible 3YO pacing winner, showing a smart turn of foot to win in a 1:57.6 rate (1950m), to remain unbeaten in two appearances for the Ken and Tony Barron stable. Co-trainer Tony Barron said it was a good litmus test for the gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere and another former top Allstars winner in O Baby in a strong form field.
Destiny Jones, who was transferred by Blenheim co-owner and former trainer Dean Hunter to Christchurch trainer Kevin Townley at the start of the week, capitalised when favourites, Habibti Ivy and Harriet Of Mot, broke stride early in the $18,000 Ordeal Trotting Cup.
The six-year-old mare went into the race ranked 23rd for November’s Group One Dominion Handicap but gained automatic entry to the Dominion with the upset win. Destiny Jones outfinished another outsider and last year’s Ordeal winner Amaretto Sun (parked).
Have Faith In Me, driven by Natalie Rasmussen, made a winning return to racing for the new season at Addington on Saturday claiming the New Brighton Cup.