We had a good day at the trials today with positive reports on all the horses and we are looking forward to a good weekend again.
ENHANCE YOUR CALM is ready to return on Friday. He had a little setback but it was more of a precaution than anything else and I feel he should be too good for his rivals. He has continued to do well and I think he has the wood on the other three year olds when he is right and he seems to be.
The fillies have done well and worked well since getting home but I would favour KAYLA MARIE of our two (over BUBBLING OVER) especially from the draw
LETTERKENNY BOY never got his chance at Invercargill and he will go much better here.
The two year olds going to Wyndham are in good fettle too. FLYING EVEN BETTOR and COPPERFIELD are both well and are working up fine. There is not a lot between them and the run will decide the outcome
We were not too disappointed with the runs at Invercargill last week. A couple of things didn’t go right and LETTERKENNY BOY was wiped out. I didn’t think CHEERFUL’S race went quite the way we saw it beforehand but that happens.She has taken no harm from the trip and will be ready for the Oaks next week.
There is nothing to report so far about Natalie’s appeal hearing in Australia.
It has been good to get home again and sort out a few things we needed to after being away. The staff have done a great job and we are grateful to them for their efforts.
It looks like Ultimate Machete could be retired after this morning when suffered another injury. He has not had a great deal of luck with injuries for some time now and at the level he is racing at it makes it very difficult.
He is a horse who built to a very high level of performance gradually ending his two year old career with a huge run in the Jewels. Then the Sires STakes the following November was enormous too (NZ record 2.16.5/1.52.6) before winning the Sales Final in a time they very rarely went at that stage at Alexandra Park (2.36.1 for 2200m). He was second in both Derbys ( and also the NSW version) then beat Tiger Tara in the NZ Free for All (2.15.7)
He reached his peak in Perth (January 2017) of course winning the Sky Classic and the Golden Nuggett (both Group One) but he struck problems at that time.
A slow buildup toward the New Zealand Cup featuring many hours of preparation by Poi Bowden, came adrift close to Cup time and since then the big horse has battled setbacks.
(Ultimate Machete, raced by the “Major Mark” syndicate-=Phil and Glenys Kennard, Phil and Margaret Creighton, Gavin Douglas and Kevin Riseley - raced 32 times for 13 wins and 11 seconds and thirds banking $850,000. His best winning mile time of 1.51.9 was set at Addington in a 1950m event winning the NZ Free for All. He set five NZ records during his career.
Yes, a tremendous thrill to win the Miracle Mile and three Group Ones at Menangle in a night. That is not something you are going to do very often and it is very satisfying I must say. Natalie felt the same. The team really did us proud on the night. Every one of them gave of their best. Some got better results than others but there were good reasons for that.
“The Miracle Mile did not go quite as I expected in that I thought Tiger Tara would go out early and he didn’t. But it worked out fine because when I got up to Thefixer I had a head on him so I was able to get to the front and sneak a slower quarter down the back. It was great to finally drive a winner of the race.
Il Vicolo had two goes at the Mile and I guess you could say he was unlucky in a way. I was with Iraklis the second year and the horse we were following galloped at the home turn. You don’t expect that in a Miracle Mile. The previous year he was beaten out of the gate. He wasn’t unlucky but if he had got to the front I think he would have won. So it is good to finally do it.
We will have four in the Taylor Mile and Messenger the way things are looking. SPANKEM and ASHLEY LOCAZ as well as CHASE AUCKLAND and TURN IT UP who is reported to be training up well. ALL U NEED IS FAITH stayed in Sydney. There is some interest in him over there so we will wait and see what develops.
CRUZ BROMAC doesn’t seem to have a serious problem but will spell and maybe unlikely to return to New Zealand. With these four year olds all looking at the New Zealand Cup it is probably doubtful he would be back here in the longer term.
Ashley Locaz was a little below his best on Miracle Mile night. It didn’t surprise me. Luke (McCarthy) said he felt terrific the previous week but I didn’t think he quite finished it off as well as I expected. I told Luke he was maybe feeling the effects of racing and I think he was. He will bounce back quickly now I am sure.
I got here on Tuesday and Wednesday work went well so they should all be fit enough. ULTIMATE SNIPER worked really good this morning and from his draw he is going to be very hard to beat.
ANOTHER MASTERPIECE arrived Tuesday. He looks the part and has worked well over in Sydney but has a tricky draw and I don’t think he can beat Ultimate Sniper at the moment. JESSE DUKE will go a good race too but the same applies really.
SWEET ON ME and the draw ? Well if she is beaten it will be the draw that did it. A bit of pressure when you are on a warm favourite from a draw like that and you can’t really afford to be unlucky. She has an edge on AMAZING DREAM at this stage and with any luck I think she should win
ULTIMATE MACHETE ? question mark ? yes still a question mark. I am not sure quite what is happening with him. His foot seems fine but he has a few issues from his younger days and you wonder if they are having an impact. ELLE MAC has been unlucky in most of her recent starts and she seems the more reliable. There will be probably be a decision on “Mate” after he goes around this week but I am looking for something better. The 2200m distance will suit her a little more than Machete too,
SMOOTH DEAL is a class act and I expect him to be too smart for VIRGIL at this stage of their careers. That he hasn’t really run time yet may be true but I have no worries what he will do when that happens.
KAYLA MARIE and BUBBLED UP both seem well and the small field is going to be a bonus for them. KAYLA MARIE is a G1 winner on the course and was doing well last week and may have an edge.
(Lest you forget)
NATALIE RATES THEFIXER AT PEAK-BUT FEARS ONE AS UPSET!
“We have lodged an appeal over my suspension from last week after all. That was largely because our legal adviser, Matt Hammond, examined the case and recommended I take that course of action. As a result of the appeal there is a stay of proceedings which means its possible I could be driving at Alexandra Park next Saturday depending on what happens between now and then.
I fly to Christchurch on Tuesday to take over the home team and the horses fly to Auckland on Tuesday also.
On the plane will be Another Masterpiece who is a late entry into the Woodlands Derby. He is unlikely to gain a start in the NSW Derby tomorrow and that is what these plans are based upon. He will be ready for another race by then.
All our team have been terrific this week. Thefixer is in quarantine now but Poi reports he is just jumping out of his skin and really we can’t fault any of the team who are running tomorrow.
ASHLEY LOCAZ is just a little trouper and he is thriving. He has a nice draw now and he will go a top race. We gave Luke to option to drive him again because he drives Cash n Flow as well and he jumped at the chance.
ALL U NEED IS FAITH has been under Mark’s care this week and we think he is improved. While his run last week maybe looked a bit below his best we feel he is at his best when he is on or near the pace and he hasn’t been able to do that from the draws lately. So he should be a tougher proposition this week.
DREAM ABOUT ME has done extra well this week too. We think she needed that hard mile run last week to get her adjusted to the racing here again just as Thefixer went on so well from his first hard mile here. It’s tough racing and they have to be attuned to it. She went a good time last week even so and with the improvement we think she has she should be hard to beat again.
PRINCESS TIFFANY is to me our best of the night and I really think she is a good thing. I know KUALOA is a top filly and a tough one and I know how well those horses are trained but Tiffany just worked great on Wednesday and if anything she has improved from last week (last 400m in better than 26!) and she will improve again from that work. She is really flying
THE BIG MILE
Yes it is different driving the big miles at Menangle compared to other races. It is more the American style of racing and you can’t afford to miss a beat. In longer races or even miles on other tracks you have some time to recover if something goes wrong but this is a race you have to be right on to it from start to finish. There being no passing lane is also a major factor unless the field breaks up and I can’t see that happening with this one
It will be a great race and they will go hard. I can’t see the horses drawn wider out going back. They can’t win from back there, especially TIGER TARA. So he and FIELD MARSHALL will have to be on the move early and so will SPANKEM. THEFIXER of course is drawn in but the decisions are no easier there even if the driving is. Field Marshall’s chance will probably rely on a really burning quarter down the back because he follows speed so well while Tiger Tara will need to be up there because he doesn’t sprint as well as some in this
I think POSTER BOY (1 gate) will hold up in front at least for the first bit. They will be waiting to see what unfolds and won’t want to end up 3 pegs. I probably have that long to decide what is the best option and as I say those wider horses will be pressing forward. CHASE AUCKLAND will be looking to drop in somewhere. He ran the fastest mile last week and he is very ready for this race, he won’t lack anything on race fitness or experience. He might get the best run who knows in a race like this ?
I have a lot of respect for Poster Boy especially if he ends up in the trail even though there is no passing lane.
Look I have to say how impressed I have been with SPANKEM this week. I took him for a walk and he was bouncing around half cow kicking just full of himself. He has the credentials to win a race like this and I think he is better now than he was at Interdominion time. That is a big statement.
So while I favour Thefixer, Spankem is the one of ours who might be the biggest threat of an upset. From his draw he might end up with the best run with those outside horses going forward. And I still don’t count out Chase Auckland especially if he gets an ideal run.
Menangle Warriors-Chase Auckland , All U Need is Faith, Ashley Locaz, , Spankem, Dream About Me, Thefixer
ULTIMATE SNIPER NOT LEAVING HOME
A combination of circumstances means ULTIMATE SNIPER will concentrate on the Woodlands Northern Derby instead of the NSW Derby on March 2.
That means ANOTHER MASTERPIECE will be contesting the Derby in Sydney after earlier plans to ship him home this week were abandoned.
“The pallet was not able to be filled after blood testing of some of the other horses” Mark said.
“It is the second week a flight has been aborted. So we have decided to keep Another Masterpiece here for the NSW Derby and change direction with Ultimate Sniper”
“Another Masterpiece has settled in and handles the heat well so that is a bonus too.His blood tests were fine”
The other good news is that THEFIXER and CRUZ BROMAC have both come through their blood tests with flying colours and are set for their Miracle Mile challenge.
“Everything was good there and that is good news” Mark said.
BUBBLED UP is due to resume in the Nevele R filly’s heat at Methven on Sunday.
She has trialled up to the mark and will be one of the hardest to beat. She is one of three in form drives Tim has tomorrow following a double at Gore on Saturday.
The others are last start maiden winner, Brantley, who loved the grass at Motukarara, and Overarm another Chmeil -trained runner who was close up at Motukarara and then ran a big race at Orari,
SPANKEM HEADS HOME (Mark)
Spankem has run out of time to qualify for the Chariots of Fire and returns to New Zealand to prepare for the Taylor Mile and Messenger Championship.
“Spankem has a foot abscess and treatment is not having a quick enough effect to allow him to race in the Chariots qualifier on Saturday night. So we have decided to cut his campaign short here and set him for those features in Auckland instead.
The rest of the team has travelled from Sydney well. It is very hot here still. But the horses all seem to have settled in ok.
The only concern at this stage is Thefixer who underwent a blood test yesterday.
“I haven’t got the results back yet but we hope it is nothing serious. It is probably the effects of a hard race “
Mark felt that while Cruz Bromac and Thefixer seemed really ready for the Hunter Cup the run of the race held surprises.
“They seemed to take a long time to get up on the pace, longer than we expecxted and Thefixer was out in the open a long time. I know they went a record but they are good enough to match up to getting on the pace easily enough so we will have to see,”
Both horses will run in the Miracle Mile Qualifier on February 23, the Cordova and Allied Sprints over one mile so have time to recuperate.
Mark expects CHASE AUCKLAND to strip a much fitter horse in the Paleface Adios this week.
“It was an ideal leadup. Luke looked after him really well making sure he ran for the public money but avoiding giving him too tough a race so he should be good to go this week. He certainly seems well enough”
ALL U NEED IS FAITH is not in quite such a top position having missed his first lead up race two weeks ago.
“You have to be tight and hard running at this level the way they run the races here and he was just missing that edge last week. He will need to pick it up quickly as far as the Chariots is concerned because it is his last chance”
"Natalie will be heading home Sunday to prepare the team for the Addington meeting while I stay with the Sydney team”
TWO BUYS AT MELTON SALES
Mark signed for two lots at the Melbourne APG sale on Sunday.
Both had connections with previous buys and both either by design or coincidence carry the blood of Safely Kept
Lot 156 is an Art Major filly from the Somebeachsomewhere mare Almihata, a three quarter sister to Motor Smoker who was showing great promise before dying as a youngster. This is the family of several stars and a past All Star youngster of promise in Benicio. She stopped the bidding at $A25,000
Lot 161 is a Bettor’s Delight colt from a high class race filly in Arivee who has left several winners. He fetched $45,000 and is related to Mr Kalypso and closely related to Caribbean Blaster.
The Melbourne carnival having ended the All Stars caravan moves to Sydney on Monday for the next round of international spoils (minus Another Masterpiece, see below).
Spankem is aimed at the Chariots of Fire initially while Cruz Bromac and Thefixer have the Miracle Mile in their sights but with possible tilts at the Canadian Mile on February 23. The winner and runner-up are guaranteed Miracle Mile starts
The form of Dream About Me and Elle Mac will be assessed before confirming a trip to Sydney for the Ladyship Mile on March 2 but both are planning on being there.
“They will be staying at home until the Standardbred Breeders Stakes (February 15). Elle Mac then run in the Robin Dundee Stakes (February 23) to qualify for the Ladyship.”
Dream About Me qualified for the big mile by winning the Queen of Hearts at Auckland in December.
Ultimate Sniper who is likely to trial in the next 10 days or so would travel over at the same time. The NSW Derby heats are also on the 23rd at Menangle
Another Masterpiece, beaten on the night in the Victorian Derby but not helped by behind held up at a vital time flies home on Monday to prepare for the Woodlands Derby on March 98.
Mark was thrilled with the result of the two year old race at Addington on Friday
“Couldn’t have hoped for more than that. They all ran right up to what we thought they could do so it is a good start to the southern juvenile races at least”
FEBRUARY 9 MENANGLE
ALL U NEED IS FAITH, ASHLEY LOCAZ, CHASE AUCKLAND - PALEFACE ADIOS $a50,000 -CHARIOTS OF FIRE QUALIFIER
FEBRUARY 16 MENANGLE
CHARIOTS OF FIRE
NSW DERBY HEATS
ROBIN DUNDEE STAKES
CANADIAN CLUB ONE MILE -(FIRST AND SECOND AUTOMATIC QUALIFY FOR MIRACLE MILE)
MIRACLE MILE (G1)
LADYSHIP MILE (G1)
NSW DERBY (G1)
BOHEMIA CRYSTAL FFA (G1)
Natalie and Mark have finalised plans for the Inter Dominion and Auckland carnival racing team. It includes Natalie taking the key role at the Interdominions in Victoria that goes from December 2nd thru 4th and 8th ) to December 15th (final) for Cruz Bromac.
Meanwhile the Auckland schedule lines up as follows:
Sires Stakes (Fillies) heat: Princess Tiffany ; Kayla Marie
Northern Stakes (c and g) Jesse Duke, Another Masterpiece War Dan Delight
Northern Breeders (f and m) Elle Mac, Dream About Me
Summer Cup: All U Need is Faith, Turn It Up, Ashley Locaz, Sicario
Handicap Trot: Oscar Bonavena
FFA Trot: Luby Lou
Young Guns heat: Smooth Deal
Ladyship Stakes: Princess Tiffany, Kayla Marie
Alabar Classic: Ultimate Sniper, Another Masterpiece, Jesse Duke, War Dan Delight
Queen of Hearts: Dream About Me, Elle Mac
Franklin Cup: Eamon Maguire, Turn it Up, Ashley Locaz, Sicario, All U Need is Faith
Handicap Trot. Oscar Bonavena
National Trot: Luby Lou
Young Guns Heat: Smooth Deal
Sires Stakes (Filly) Final: Princess Tiffany, Kayla Marie
PGG Sales Final (3yo) Ultimate Sniper, Jesse Duke, Another Masterpiece, War Dan Delight
AUCKLAND CUP: Eamon Maguire, Turn It Up, Dream About Me, Ashley Locaz, Sicario
Free for All: Elle Mac (possibly Ultimate Machete)
NATALIE;S BUCKET LIST -FILLED !
You wouldn’t have to be very perceptive to know what it meant to Natalie Rasmussen to win the NZ Cup.
It meant the world.
“It was the one on my bucket list I most wanted. You always want to win all the big races and I have just about done that now. This was the the big one missing and it is a great thrill to put it away “
Natalie was always confident Thefixer could be the horse to do that. But there were questions. Yesterday not long after five o’clock those questions were answered. At least for some.
“I didn’t think I had won. I was just hoping to have won. I asked Tim (third) and he said he thought Tiger Tara had won. Then he told me Todd (McCarthy) thought I had won. So I wasn’t sure”
It wasn’t just the drive that made it special for Natalie. She has been a fan of Thefixer from the early days when he surprised a few people, not excluding Mark, when beating Vincent on Cup day two years ago.
“I’ve always had a great faith in him. I knew he needed time to do his best and the owners gave him that time. It has paid off today but we had a bit of luck”
Natalie was not sure what was going to happen in the Cup -what drivers really do ?-but she knew in spite of his lack of experience he had all the other qualificatioins for a Cup winner.
“The false start was typical. It didn’t bother him at all. Those are the sort of horses who make Cup horses. Nothing bothers him and he stays all day”
“My main concern was the work we had to do early. We had to sprint around to the front and Dream About Me was going to be a good one to follow. But it was a close thing. I was just glad it turned out like it did!”
You would never ask Natalie to compare horses. Not something she is in to. And you would never suggest she was behind a Blacks a Fake at Addington. But the thrill she got from the win was obvious.
There was a small problem, one which could put Natalie and Mark on the holiday list next week. She copped a suspension from November 11 to November 30 for undue use of the whip in the NZ Cup -a penalty shared by Todd McCarthy on Tiger Tara who was just fined.
Mark also picked up a similar penalty from his drive on Jesse Dukeallegedly checking a rival
Natalie acknowledged it was an enormous day to win 8 races, an unprecedented achievememt at any meeting never mind the feature meeting of the year.
A masterly front running drive on Cruz Bromac on Friday was the icing on the cake
And Mark struck a novelty win among his three on the day. When he won with Elle Mac it was his first raceday drive on the mare, a champion two year old and second best three year old filly in her career. There’s always firsts at All Stars.
“We have a great staff to think for that and of course Mark who is just a great trainer and judge of horses.
All Stars has a previous record of seven wins in a day (three times) but eight ? Out of this world.
It was of course just as fabulous for the syndicates racing Thefixer and Ultimate Sniper as well as Dennis Dunford co-owner of All U Need is Faith with his son Mark and owner of Living the Faith.
Mark and Natalie each won four races, itself once a record on a Cup day. Mark took the two trots, came with a brilliant late run with Living the Faith, waltzed in with Turn It Up, a horse he selected in Australia as a yearling and ran minor placings in the the Sires Stakes and NZ Cup.
So what is Natalie’s Bucket List ?
Australia (G1 races)
Winter Cup Queensland: Blacks a Fake
Inter Dominion Finals- 3 with Blacks a Fake
Victoria Cup Blacks a Fake
Hunter Cup Blacks a Fake
Miracle Mile; Have Faith In Me
Chariots of Fire : Have Faith In Me
Queensland Pacing Championship” 3 wins with Blacks a Fake
NSW Derby: Waikiki Beach
NSW Oaks: Fight for Glory, Dream About Me
APG Finals: Waikiki Beach, Rosa Mach
Queensland Sires Stakes: Abbey Tiara
Ballarat Cup: Heaven Rocks
Bohemia Crystal Mile: Western Cam, I Am Sam
Ladyship Mile: Adore Me, Piccadilly Princess, Good Lookin Girl
Len Smith Mile: Smolda
NEW ZEALAND (in 7 seasons)
Young Guns Final: Chase the Dream
Jewels 2yo Diamond: Princess Tiffany
Sires Stakes 2yo: More the Better
Sires Stakes Fillies 2yo; Kayla Marie, Elle Mac, Spanish Armada
Jewels 3yo Diamond: Spanish Armada, O Baby
Nevele R Final: Spanish Armada, Elle Mac, O Baby
NZ Oaks: Spanish Armada, Fight for Glory
Great Northern Woodlands Derby: Chase Auckland
Great Northern Pascoe Oaks: Elle Mac
Sires Stakes 3yo Fillies: Elle Mac, Golden Goddess, Spanish Armada
Sires Stakes 3yo: Ultimate Machete, Chase Auckland, Ultimate Sniper
Jewels 4yo Emerald: Heaven Rocks, Eamon Maguire
NZ Messenger: Eamon Maguire
Auckland Cup: Vincent
Easter Cup: Heaven Rocks
NZ Free for All: Ultimate Machete, Cruz Bromac
NZ Cup: Thefixer
Queen of Hearts: Fight for Glory, Partyon*
Great Northern Trotting Derby: Winterfell
(Other “bucket list” features: Ashburton Flying Stakes; Methven Cup (3) Kaikoura Cup (2) 2yo Trotting Stakes
In New Zealand 612 drives; 237 wins 116 seconds, 74 thirds $7.9m
CROSS EXAMINATION-10 QUESTIONS FOR MARK ABOUT TUESDAY’S RACE TEAM
1)Who do you rate as your best drive on the day ?
Kings Landing (R11 5.48)
2)Where is Jesse Duke on the scale of readiness for the Sires Stakes Final. Can he beat Ultimate Sniper ?
I don’t think so. He is working well and he hasn’t done a lot of racing but he has done enough to be ready for this.He worked with Ultimate Sniper today (Sunday) and when the pressure goes on the other horse just showed an edge. So I wouldn’t say he couldn’t win because he could but if its an equal battle on luck he might come up a little bit short.
3) How many wins would be a pass mark for the stable on the day. Do you have a number ?
I think looking at the fields that six wins are possible but five is certainly a pass mark maybe less. They are never as easy to win as they look on paper.
4) Can Winterfell beat a horse like Sundee’s Son ?
Not easy to answer. As I have said before he is a big physical talent but he is not quite there mentally and thats why we didn’t go on for the Dominion. But I was impressed with his work today and if he got away with them and did it right he can probably beat anything in this grade.
5) If you could jump ship and drive a horse from the stable on Tuesday you are not on who would it be ?
Thefixer. He is in such a good place at the moment.
6) Yes but we ran a straw poll among the staff this morning and more than one came out for Cruz Bromac. Can he win a New Zealand Cup?
He could, but he would need a bit in his favour. He is another who worked well this morning. He has thrived over here and I don’t think you could get him any better for a race like this. He has the speed to capitalise on the right run but if he has to work during the race it would be harder for him. Also he is used to Australian racing where when they come out they trained to go hard. You wouldn’t want to be using him in the running if you could avoid it because getting him to relax again midrace could be a challenge. I don’t want to undersell a smart horse but it will depend more on the run than for some we have had over the years.
7) Sicario and Funatthebeach are two runners of interest yet to hit their best form. How do you assess their chances ?
I think Funatthbeach might be one run short. If he had drawn a good marble in the front line I would have said that he would be near enough to be right in the money. I am just concerned that if he has to work from the second line during the race his lack of racing could find him out just this time. Sicario is an interesting runner. Except for maybe two horses, one of them being All U Need is Faith, this is quite a drop in class from where he has been racing. I don’t know he can beat those two on the day but he should be ready for a good race and might offer some value because he is a smart horse.
8) Is there a smokey among the Tuesday team ?
I think A Bettor Act comes into that category. He has worked well since he upset at Addington in the final heat and that was a pretty good effort. On his best day he is very good.
9) How do you feel about the team overall going into the Cup Week ?
Actually very happy. The training has gone really well in the last week and they have all come up to expectations in that regard. We had bad luck with Ultimate Machete but so far I think we go into the week with at least as much confidence as we have had in recent years.
10) Are Cup Days all much the same to you now or do they present different challenges every year ?
Actually quite a lot has changed. Once among the pacers you had the Cup, the Junior Free for All and then another tough C6 or so race all with deep form. Now those sort of races are gone because the numbers aren’t there. Also o with the Rating system horses get into the Cup from lower grades/ratings than used to be the case and that affects those classes. I used to think that you got a horse to C4 and then you began to climb the ladder but that is not the case now. To keep the fields up the standard of entry has eased to what it used to be and you have to plan for that. Btu the basics still apply. Everyone wants to win in Cup week and you have to have your horses at their peak if you want to win. Often they are different types of horses you used to aim at the meeting. You just have to be aware of what is going on with the Ratings etc. and plan accordingly. It is still the biggest day of the season and one we aim strongly at. That hasn’t changed.
NATALIE -HOW I SEE TUESDAY
It is going to be an exciting week but also a testing one. On Friday we hosted the staff to a night out and then when Mark and I got home we checked out the horses, changing the covers etc in the weather and it was probably 1 am before I got to bed. That is the sort of pressure Cup week brings but it is not all glamour and excitement I can tell you that.
We always face a big day on the Sunday with final workouts and usually a few visiting for the meeting coming outso that will be another challenge.
There has been a little bit of talk about THEFIXER drawing one in the Cup but I think its a great draw. Touch wood he has always been a safe beginner and Tiger Tara drawn in the second row is a help for him too. I drive the race as I see it though you always do your homework to assess what is most likely to happen. I am taking the view that we will have options from that gate and we can go from there.
Is Thefixer really seasoned enough (career starts 16) to handle the Cup ? I think so. Yes, maybe ideally I would have liked him to be at Ashburton and just have another race but in his favour is the horse himself. He is sensible, can sprint and stay and race manners have never been a problem for him. He just does what you ask him and always been a favourite of mine. I think his absences from the track worked in his favour l always thought he was a horse who would benefit from patient handling which he got and he looks ready for a big 3200m to me. His work in at Addington on Friday was really good.
DREAM ABOUT ME is the horse I am most worried about. She has had the perfect prep. she is such a good stayer and she is versatile. She had a lot of bad luck last season but finally it has turned and she is tough as. That could make the difference. CRUZ BROMAC is a different sort of horse. I think Thefixer can outstay him but I would be very nervous if he was sitting on my back coming to the turn. I know from Methven how well he can sprint to them and with a similar run he is a threat.
The New Zealand Cup is one of those races you always list as one you want to win so it really means something for me to win it. That is what I aim to do!
SLINGSHOT is my first drive. We have three in it and they are nearly equal in ability but I feel this horse has really found his way lately and he has the sliding blinds on to sharpen him further. I was impressed with him at Kaikoura. When he started his campaign he was disappointing but looking back I can see reasons for that. He is an improver again and I actually prefer that second row draw. It will give him a chance to settle. I like his chance.
ALL U NEED IS FAITH is next for me. I really like this horse. I think with a bit more seasoning he could have won at Kaikoura. This is a very good race and he might be some value. He is a great doer and he takes more racing than most to hit his peak so he has done nothing wrong this time in for me. It is a tough race and it won’t be easy even to beat our other three but he is good and really well.
ULTIMATE SNIPER’s chance’s are well known and I like the draw. I think the second line can be an advantage in a race like the Sires Stakes where they go so hard. We follow out a nice horse and he should get his chance. He is one of those horses who has more than one string to his bow I am fairly confident in his chances with any sort of luck at all.
Our others won’t be easy to beat. The Moonshadow was flat last week and we were worried about him for a while but he has bounced back and worked well late in the week. A Bettor Act is not an Ultimate Sniper but good enough as we saw in the last heat and Jesse Duke has a nice draw and is a very consistent horse. I don’t think he has been further back than third and I will be keeping a lookout for him.
ANTHEM is up against Turn It Up and Funatthebeach so that won’t be easy from where he is. It is fair to say that he has not quite gone on from his three year old career and that might be because he was kept as a colt. He won’t be one for long after this if he doesn’t show! We have added the sliding blinds and I have to say he worked well at Addington on Friday so he is not out of it. But the other two are tough to beat and Funatthebeach went outstanding at the trials last week. A nice horse.
BETTOR MY DREAMZ has talent and it is whether he has the ringcraft that will count here. He never got into the Sires Heat but that was a qualifying race for him and realistically you couldn’t have expected a lot more at that stage. I will be driving him positively that’s for sure and see if he is good enough. If he is he will win.
If I had the chance to drive another of our team on the day ? TURN IT UP and ASHLEY LOCAZ. I would be more than happy to be driving either especially Turn It Up.
MARK THURSDAY-CUP “FIRST FOUR”-(and other matters)
Everything was good with the trials horses yesterday and now we will be trialling some at Addington in the morning before the final windup on Sunday.
Putting our four in the Cup in betting order ?
Well I would think I would have DREAM ABOUT ME on top. She has had a perfect preparation and is as good as she has ever been-which is pretty good !
I like the draw for her too. It will give Tim some options. But she can stay and she has speed and covers all the bases really.
THEFIXER would be next. I am just a little bit worried about that one draw. He is a reliable beginner and that should not be a problem but it is whether some from outside can get across him with that outside advantage early.There is a big difference between two and three back on the rails in a race like the Cup. Otherwise he is so consistent and reliable he is obviously a danger to this field.
CRUZ BROMAC would be the third tick in the box. I like the horse and he has really done well. He led in the Cup Trial but he won’t be doing that on Cup day unless there is a lack of options. I think he is better coming from off the pace. I also think he will cover the distance all right but he won’t want to do too much work on the way. He has certainly done well. He would need to get the right run,
EAMON MAGUIRE would be on my stable ticket for fourth, not because of any lack of ability but because he is more of a speed horse than an outright stayer and there would be some worry about getting the trip for him if he has to do any work in the running. If he sits and gets one go at them he is a chance but those sort of run don’t come along that often in the Cup.
I would say the draw has thrown the race wide open. TIGER TARA was sure to run forward if he drew the front line but now from the second row it is going to be a bit more difficult for him and it is a little less predictable as a result. It means there is bound to be some action in middle stages and that adds to the puzzle.
I am not worried about the draw for ULTIMATE SNIPER in the Sires Stakes Final. In fact I think it is good for him. The Sires Stakes is usually/always run at a frantic sort of speed so most horses get their chance. The horse in front of him goes out of the gate and Snip is versatile enough that he gives you more than one option.
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Natalie was more than happy to take out another Methven Cup with Australian pacer, Cruz Bromac on Sunday but also looking toward a very busy week at All Stars.
“He had done well but it was a little bit of a surprise how well he won first up, especially on grass. He scrambled for a moment early while he got used to it and then we got a charmed run. But he did it well”
Natalie won her first race on grass and it was the Methven Cup when Vi Et Animo won in 2014. She won again with Messini two years later in spite of having a dislocated elbow at the time. Natalie managed to disguise the injury somewhat to gain a clearance to drive but spent the next six weeks on the sideline.
Mark said he was pleased with Ultimate Machete.
“He needed a good hitout and he got one today. I was happy with his run but he will improve a lot yet. At this stage the Flying Stakes will be his only other race before the Cup. Cruz Bromac we will keep for Kaikoura.
”Thefixer should be back in the stable in another week after a water walker course. His foot burst out last week so it should be all good from now on. though the Cup might still be a question mark”
It is a case of “horses everywhere” at Addington and Ashburton this weekend as well as four at the trials on Wednesday,
MARK SPEAKS OUT AGAIN ON CURRENT ACTION
It was a low key hearing on race fixing charges in the Court on Tuesday and at least I was pleased Raoul Neave has been the judge in this case to date. His summaries have been well reasoned and he had a compassion for those in court concerning the lack of respect shown by the media that covered the initial police raids.
However it was decided that pleas would not be made until December 5. There has been a battle to get some of those affected back to race day driving and I hope by the time this has appeared common sense has prevailed. So far there has not been much of it and if the Racing Integrity Unit thinks they have acted in the best interests of harness racing I would urge them to get a second opinion.
It’s going to be a long road to finality with these cases and I can see bitter feelings toward the RIU at the end of it.
I am naturally not prepared to speculate on the outcome of the Court process but I want to make the point most of these people have given their lives to harness racing and served it with more integrity than they have been shown at times here. We tend to stand back and let things take its course when it does not involve us personally yet there are, in my opinion, a number of times when people affected should have been treated a lot better than they were, given the outcome.
I hope for once we can come together and pressure the RIU for answers. I expect it will be well into next year before these cases are resolved and this is an occasion when we should stand up and not stand back.
For the betterment of our industry and the young people coming through it is a time for action especially in establishing protocols that will avoid dragging people’s reputations through the dirt and taking Harness Racing’s credibility with it.
MARK SAYS (First Part)
We all know harness racing has been hard hit by the news coming out in the last week or so and I wouldn’t want to go into the ins and outs of all the evidence that has emerged so far. That is for others to decide
However I feel I must comment on some aspects of how the case has been handled.
I think I can say that in that I have been a victim of some aspects of the media coverage which I think has been overly sensational and judgmental before any of the evidence had been properly evaluated.
I can’t help noticing that harness racing seems to judged by different standards compared to other sports and businesses in these circumstances. Innocent until proven guilty is the law but you couldn’t say that was the attitude of some commentators and authorities in connection with this case. Our industry deserves better .
From the personal viewpoint there were photos of me in the media as soon as the story broke and the property on television news when nobody at All Stars was ever involved in a race fixing inquiry.
Names were being published before any court appearances had been made In my experience other industries are not treated like that. It seems they have no respect for harness racing.
In my view the media has quite a lot to answer for over these events. They seem to have a double standard when it comes to racing.
I looked at the people involved in court last week on the various charges and thought how well presented all of them were and how most are high achievers who have made something of their lives. They may prove to have done something wrong but they seemed out of place in a courtroom.
I have been in harness racing a long time and consider it clean.
As in all businesses things happen from time to time. However what some might be sure they see from the stands is not always what is really happening in the race. I believe harness racing deserves more respect for its overall record.
That is why I am also disappointed at the lack of support to date from the code leaders for some of the most successful people in harness racing who have not yet been found guilty of anything. This treatment does not seem to happen in the thoroughbred code.
I can understand people questioning aspects of our industry and have no problems with those questions being properly answered.
But to see people treated so shabbily before anything has been through the courts of law is extremely disappointing.