TIM LOOKING FOR ULTIMATE SNIPER WIN
Nobody else would think so perhaps but Tim Williams will be looking to atone with Ultimate Sniper at Addington on Friday. Even if it is atoning for something that wasn’t his fault.
Tim drove Ultimate Sniper when he experienced his only defeat going down narrowly but on his merits to stablemate Jesse Duke in the leadup to the Woodlands Northern Derby three weeks ago. The pair ran the same quinella in the Derby itself but the other way around.
Ultimate Sniper’s defeat was not helped by the fact that he ran greenly around the final bend losing momentum but also the Sniper’s Derby run was a touch below his earlier best struggling home in 3.22.6-from a horse who ran 2.19 for 2080m in the Sires Stakes Final a few starts previously. At one stage he ran 800m in 66 seconds so more finishing firepower would have been expected.
While Tim came in for some banter over his losing drive on the star three year old he had backup from Natalie who is currently sidelined by suspension.
Natalie noted at the weekend that while Ultimate Sniper was gritty and classy in his Derby win he was not at his peak form.
“He raced well showed his class, was really great. But he was not the same horse he had been in November “ Natalie said when comparing his epic Sires Stakes win with the Derby.
There is further evidence of that in the rise of Jesse Duke. An outstanding juvenile, perhaps unlucky not to be Two Year Old of the Year in a close contest, he was generally considered below Ultimate Sniper’s best level in an even contest.
But he beat him in Auckland and very nearly beat him in the Woodlands Derby beaten a head sitting parked though he got a run up on a slow pace in the middle stages.
So either he has stepped up a level or Ultimate Sniper was not quite at his peak.
There were other factors at play in his lone defeat.
Most important, he had not raced since New Year’s Eve nearly two months earlier. Natalie and Mark had hoped to get a run in a suitable race in Canterbury before heading north but there wasn’t one. So he was going into two testing assignments on a light prep. and Tim happened to be in the cart when the price was paid.
The two clash again in the Flying Stakes on Friday night where Ultimate Sniper has the draw in his favour. He also has Tim in his favour and he is out to return it.
How the races looked midweek
Qualifying for the Final looks easy enough if these numbers continue in the heats,
One Change and The Power of Prayer are first starters. The Power of Prayer is the improver in the juvenile team lately. Copperfield and Flying Even Bettor have generally shared honours in their races to date, Copperfield who is able but can do the odd thing wrong, having the advantage of the draw. Then there is Virgil whose northern form was strong and was impressive here first up before then. He may well end up favourite .
Nevele R heat:
Kayla Marie has some draw advantage and is generally rated superior to Bubbled Up as she showed in her Auckland win. It is an even field with the capacity for an upset in the absence of Princess Tiffany who is saving her power for another night.
Winterfell will be in strong demand. Beaten by Over the Love fresh but that was his first run since November when he shone at the Cup meeting. Always considered a later developer he should be ready to show his wares to this field with that run under his belt.
Cheerful has drawn the outside in the 2080m classic but that might not be enough to stop her. Swamped late at Invercargill after having to work very hard to get the lead early . The group look quite even and the run will be everything as Swiss Miss showed last time in winning down south. Majestic Chevron may be the main threat.
Free for All
Eamon Maguire’s run in the Northern Southland Cup was better than it seemed and he is the highest rated horse in this field. He is always ready for a bold bid though the draw not great over a sprint distance. These races have produced a few unexpected results lately and this could be no exception. Elle Mac has been below her best but certainly looks the part and might get the softest run of the All Stars horses from here. It wasn’t that long ago she was smashing New Zealand records remember. Funatthebeach is the dark horse. Two back he was unsuited by a walk and a sprint home that won’t happen here. Then at Invercargill he was held up while the winner was putting a break on the field and he finished strongly for third. Value each way.
Kings Landing has a big reputation and he could add to it here. He is off 20m in a big field -the only one off that mark- and up against the big boys and girls (read Marcoola ) for the first time though they are all giving him starts. Though beaten at Invercargill he will be a lot better for that run only his second since Cup week when he looked an outstanding prospect. Sure this is a big step but Mark has show his ability to step these trotters up when required. Probably didn’t expect Marcoola to be in this field (instead of the richer Trotting Championship) but he has to start from 55m. How many trotters can give Kings Landing 35m start at the moment is arguable but there aren’t many.
Letterkenny Boy was wiped out at Invercargill. Just possibly he needed that run to peak for here but it might pay to remember his background.
He went over to Australia for the APG series as a two year old after winning first up at Motukarara and ran second in a heat but missed the final being placed in the Consolation. That was last May and Invercargill was his first race since then though he had had a couple of easy trials. Winning here comes down to race fitness and no doubt he has had some polish put on since his trip south so he should be ready. Prosecution Witness might be the hardest of the three year olds to beat.
EAMON MAGUIRE returned to All Stars this week with the Easter Cup firmly on his agenda.
“He was always coming back to us. Graeme (Anderson) is not a great traveller !” Mark said
Graeme, also a co -owner, has been managing Eamon Maguire’s recovery from a knee injury which set him back at the height of the season.
Eamon was handed to Mark and Natalie last summer to campaign in the north and after a strong closing second in the Taylor Mile he took out the NZ Messenger and added the Harness Jewels 4yo for good measure.
He came back in the spring to win the Ashburton Flying Stakes and his below peak runs at the NZ Cup meeting revealed the knee problem. In saying that he still broke 3.55 in the New Zealand Cup.
The Anderson stable had him forward for the Northern Southland Cup when he resumed and Peter Ryder, who drove him in his work on Saturday was suitably impressed.
“He seems to be coming up well. He is always a keen worker which is a big help but he ran 3200m at an easy speed this morning and cruised it”
He is likely to resume at short notice after his encouraging first up run
“GHOST HORSES” WIN MIRACLE MILE JUST OUTSIDE HAVE FAITH IN ME’S GREAT TIME-AND THE NSW OAKS
Hindsight can be a funny thing but neither of two of All Stars biggest winners at Menangle were going to be in their respective races a matter of weeks ago.
There wasn’t a lot of mystery surrounding SPANKEM’S chances in the $A1m Miracle Mile on Saturday night.
His leadup run had labelled him as one of the hardest to beat and the way the race shaped there was a chance he could get either on the pace or in front.
Natalie rated him the one to beat on her preview to the race, another great piece of tactical analysis for which she is famous. “Better than when he was at the Inter Dominions” she said. True.
But it is what he was doing in the race was the real story.
Just a few weeks ago, Spankem, suffering from a foot abscess, was headed for the airport and home to prepare for the four year old features like the Taylor Mile and the Messenger Championshp.
The problem was the plane wasn’t ready to go. And the stable realised that he could easily qualify to run in the Bohemia Crystal on Miracle Mile night oVer 2400m. A better distance for a horse considered best at staying trips. Then he recovered more quickly than expected.
The leadup to that was the Free for All last week setting up automatic qualifiers for the Miracle Mile.
Co-owner Phil Kennard, a realistic owner if ever there was one, was overheard to comment he almost hoped Spankem wouldn’t qualify for the mile because the Bohemia would be a great race for him. And also a Group One. Over a better distance. At that stage who could disagree ?
But by the time Spankem had won that qualifier he was suddenly right in the frame for the big dance. Perhaps he could for the Kennard syndicates what Smolda went so desperately close to doing for Mark who had been so close to driving the winner so many times.
He drew wide-the widest gate from which the race has been won at Menangle-but was urged forward to the lead and Natalie was happy to hand up, putting keen rival, Poster Boy 3 back.
After that it seemed almost easy. Field Marshall went amiss. Tiger Tara against all the pre -race predictions went back hoping there would be a fierce battle up front though once Poster Boy did not compete hard for the lead that was not likely.
Even so Spankem ran the trip in 1.47.8 just outside the time set by another four year old HAVE FAITH IN ME who somehow ran down Lennytheshark in 1.47.5 in 2016, driven by Natalie and still the second fastest time the race has been run in l
While he would not be saying it Saturday was a great night for Mark. Menangle has not always been his happy hunting ground. There have been narrow defeats in previous Miracle Miles and he has caught some attention from the stewards. At one stage he handed all the driving over to Natalie at the meeting.
But as in the previous week his judgement of pace in the Miracle Mile was crucial to success just as his rating of DREAM ABOUT ME was crucial in the Ladyship Mile and his rating of ALL U NEED IS FAITH who ended a triumphant night with a 4th stable win on Saturday.
Spankem is raced by the Kennards, the Gibbs, the Woodhams and the Breckons who have featured in the ownership of many All Stars top performers. Their record is really quite remarkable but a $A1m race win is something very special.
All Stars have had several leading and favoured contenders in the Miracle Mile. Il Vicolo, Jack Cade, Young Rufus, Smolda, Have Faith in Me, and Lazarus are some of them. Spankem may not have been in that august company going into last night’s race. But he is now.
Interesting that All Stars two Miracle Mile winners have both been four year olds.
Our other two runners were far from disgraced. THEFIXER had his chance but fought for all he was worth and CHASE AUCKLAND gaining fourth in his first try in “town hall” company suggested more is to come.
PRINCESS TIFFANY would not have been in Australia had a Nevele R heat at Ashburton been an open instead of a restricted race.
Fed up with trying to get her ready for the Pascoe Northern Oaks, Mark and Natalie decided on a late change of plan which paid off in spades.
DUAL GROUP ONES OPEN THE MENANGLE CARD FOR ALL STARS
PRINCESS TIFFANY was magical in her NSW Oaks win suggesting that since Adore Me she might end up rating the top filly in All Stars history but DREAM ABOUT ME had something to say about that running 1.50. 1 to win the Ladyship Mile. It was a race Adore Me won in her racing days and one A Piccadilly Princess has won since.
Mark urged Dream About Me out of the gate and it was enough to hold the front. Once that happened with a 28.7 first 400m she is too tough and too classy to succumb after that winning with plenty in hand in the end. She thus added another G1 at Menangle following her NSW Oaks win as a three year old.
There is nothing more for her to achieve and she is headed for the broodmare paddock on the highest possible note.
PRINCESS TIFFANY rated 1.53.4 for a mile over the 2400m NSW Oaks a race won last year by her former stablemate Shez All Rock when trained by Mark Pitt.
Before that All Stars had won three in succession with FIGHT FOR GLORY, DREAM ABOUT ME and PARTYON meaning four of the last five Oaks have fallen to the stable and the last five have been inhabitants of All Stars at some time.
Princess Tiffany’s time was quoted as a world record though realistically Australasian is a more accurate description. Btu she won with ridiculous ease more than amplifying the clams Natalie made for her pre race.
She follows Partyon on winning the Breeders Crown/NSW Oaks double and looks poised to go even better in her future career on this astonishing effort.
ASHLEY LOCAZ couldn’t quite live up to his previous form, fighting on valiantly after a good trip but perhaps his succession of hard races might have taken the edge off his brilliance. As usual he showed great courage, just lacking that little bit of dash he has been showing lately
SPANKEM’S win in the Canadian Club Sprint (g1) at Menangle didn’t only earn him a start in the Miracle Mile next week. It showed the multi skills of co-trainer and driver Mark Purdon.
Mark drove the Kennard Syndicate charge perfectly. He worked hard to get to the front (26.1) and then pinched a 30.4 400m down the back before throwing a 25.7 400m on the way home to win easily.
CRUZ BROMAC had an ideal trip from Natalie but didn’t quite finish off the way he might have. Which shows another of Mark’s amazing equine skills.
He noted in his preview of Friday that he “had a feeling” that Cruz Bromac might be feeling the effects of a long campaign and that Spankem on the other hand had picked up his act very quickly. Both claims were proven right.
Spankem was the 3rd winner on the night for All STars. With Chase Auckland being a likely invitee to the Miracle Mile that means three entries from All Stars.
THEFIXER showed the Australians more of his real quality when he ran down Tiger Tara in the G1 Allied Express Sprint at Menangle, his first win at that level in Australia.
His time was not quite as quick as Chase Auckland’s and he was not parked out most of the way thanks to a game Ashley Locaz, but he was determined at the finish winning by a head.
Ashley Locaz did exceptionally well to hold on for fourth after doing some work with former All Star Cash n Flow running third at long odds.
By coincidence a few minutes later former All Stars Ohanzee and Rishi quinellaed an event at another meeting.
Thefixer is now guaranteed a start in the Miracle Mile and seems to be picking up the finer points of mile racing in Menangle at exactly the right time.
ANOTHER MASTERPIECE was not quite so impressive in his NSW Derby heat. Sitting in the open for much of the way he fought on strongly but had to settle for fourth which should gain him a start in the NSW Derby next week.
CHASE AUCKLAND started the All Stars night at Menangle at the elite level when he sat parked and beat an elite field in close to 1.50.
From an awkward draw, Chase Auckland went to parked after 400m. There are a few critics who might have felt that was not going to work out. But he was only getting warmed at the turn after sitting outside Picard and getting one nice section. He was just too good in the straight home in close to 26 and is likely to get an invitation to the Miracle Mile on this run.
ALL U NEED IS FAITH found that last 400m tough when he got well back in the running but was not disgraced.
PRINCESS TIFFANY was completely dominant sitting back until the 400m and then flashing down the outside to blast her NSW Oaks heat rivals off the track in a 1.56.9 mile rate over 2400m in 2.54.3 the last 400m off the front in 26.5. Yet hardly touched. Sensational.
DREAM ABOUT ME had a hard run parked but stuck strongly in the run home in her leadup to the Ladyship Mile next week.
HAYDEN GRADUATES TO FOREMAN AT ALL STARS
Hayden’s good fit at All Stars since venturing south last year has gained its own reward. He has been appointed as stable foreman position not filled since Duane Marfisi returned to the United States.
Michelle was appointed as stable manager which beside many foreman duties spent a lot of time on outside racing matters including nominations and travel arrangements as well as liasion with owners.
“It was too big a load for Michelle especially when we are away for quite long periods especially this time of the year” Natalie said.
“We appreciate her efforts as we always do and we want to be fair. There is a lot of time involved in what she was being asked to do”
“So we have decided to split those responsibilities with Hayden assuming the foreman responsibilities.
Matt Bowden acts as the travelling foreman which naturally requires him to be away for long stretches at a time in Australia.
Hayden has had wide experience in harness racing much of it when associated with Brent Mangos with whom he trained in partnership in his latter years in the stable. He also worked at Windsor Park thoroughbred stud and latterly with Graeme Rogerson where he first came in contact with All Stars.
A positive attitude and a cheerful manner have helped make Hayden a most effective staff member and and his promotion is well earned. He celebrated last Wednesday by taking some drives at the Rangiora trials
Its a freakish stat that All Stars have four horses in the NZ Cup and and all have drawn in the first five. But it would be no surprise to the late Neil Pilcher.
Neil used to repeatedly point out that while the draws were done by computer All Stars runners had a high percentage of multiple starters being drawn next to one another. And he was right. But this Tuesday is smasher for the theory.
Two runners on the front line and two on the second line in the Sires Stakes Final start alongside each other but in the Cup three Thefixer, Cruz Bromac and Eamon Maguire (to be driven by Blair Orange) start alongside each other. That hasn’t happened before and probably not to any stable in the history of the Cup.
Adore Me (13) and Arden Rooney (12) drew alongside in 2014 and two years earlier Major Mark and Sushi Sushi started side by side when we had five starters in the race
Away back in 1995 when Mark won his first Cup with Il Vicolo,stablemate Brabham started next to him and in 2001 Cigar (12) and Bogan Fella (13) were next door.
Bear in mind that some years also have included unruly runners not in the main draw to reduce the chances and handicaps still applied in earlier. But never three together and certainly not three drawing one two and three !
Tuesday 24 starters over 9 races
4 seconds /quinellas
2 thirds (1 trifecta)
TELL ME TALES beat Dream About Me last week but enjoyed a nice run where in this race she has a horror draw.ARTS TREASURE has been a mile specialist at Menangle and has won in 1.50.9 and second in the Sibellia last time out in 1.50.9. Bridget Blue Chip has won here in 1.51.4 and was placed in the Sibelia but 1.50 looks a requred time to be in the finish here. Soho Burning Love showed gate speed in the Sibelia ending up fourth. Last year’s winner CARLAS PIXEL, ironically driven by Mark to score at Melbourne at her last start in 1.51.7 must be rated a chance again. She started from gate 5 last year and won in 1.49.5 driven by Luke McCarthy who takes the reins here. MAJOR OCCASION won the Sibelia in 1.50.4. Cherry Stride has won nice races here in 1.51.4 but was distanced behind Dream About Me last week.
SUM UP: Best of Dream About Me wins what might be a very tough race.
10.20: NSW Derby (G1)
ANOTHER MASTERPIECE needs a scratching to make the field. If he did he has a difficult draw with two of the hardest to beat Centenario and Victorian Derby winner Muscle Factory drawn handily. A former All Star WAR DAN DELIGHT was a good but distant third in his heat after being taken back to last.
SUM UP: unlikely to get a start. Place chance best on his heat run
10.53: Bohemia Crystal (G1)
ASHLEY LOCAZ would be the most deserving winner of this on his huge runs at the carnival and he comes in one to 5 since Hail Christian is unlikely to get a start. Ashley’s runs are well known and he clung to fourth in the Miracle Mile qualifier after being parked . He rattled home to be just beaten in 1.49.4 in the Hondo Grattan then was a brave and crunching second in the Chariots of Fire. He has won at Menangle in 1.50.1 but may need to go quicker to win here.
The local interest will be in MAJORDAN whom many expected to make the Miracle Mile until he galloped hopelessly in the qualifer. At his previous start he had won the Cordina in 1.50.4. His major problem is the outside second line draw not helpful over a mile.
Another former All Star CASH N FLOW was a fine third in the Allied Mile last week in easily his fastest time over the mile.ELLMERS IMAGE won a mile here in November in 1.49.9 and his run last week was his first in five weeks after a Victorian campaign. UNCLE SAM, 2nd in the Inter Dominion Final on a 1.53.4 mile rate over a distance, stuck on for fourth last week from a kind draw. Former Kiwi BUSTER BRADY has done well across the Tasman but not at this level. MAXIMAN trailed last week and fought on after a fourth in the Newcastle Mile. LET IT RIDE (on the ballot) ran 1.49.8 in a supporting race last week, his first win since the Blacks a Fake in Queensland last winter. He was second in the Chariots of Fire last year in 1.48.8 and looked in for a big future at that stage.
SUM UP: **** Ashley Locaz has his chance especially with the draws.
11.28: Miracle Mile (G1)
THEFIXER (2) and CHASE AUCKLAND (3) have the best of All Stars draws but SPANKEM might get into 6. He might also get a drag into the race from TIGER TARA who is set a tough task from 8 and always wants to be on the pace. Last year’s winner MY FIELD MARSHALL is one outside Spankem.