-Eamon Maguire is a revelation after joining All Stars winning the Messenger at his second start for the stable, following huge Taylor Mile run

-Mark buys a thoroughbred-and he is going to train it

-Duplicated and Zion Bromac head overseas after sales

-LAZARUS sold to North American interests

-Princess Tiffany and Kayla Marie dominate Auckland G1 filly races


Jean and Bill Feiss made the decision to accept stud offers for VINCENT reluctantly. 

"It was hard. He was such a beautiful horse in all respects and he had more fields to conquer if everything had gone well. But in the end we thought it was the best for the horse. We would have hated it if anything happened to him when he came back racing and with the sort of injury he had you could never be sure that he could come back"  Jean said

Jean and Bill paid six figures ($A130,000) for Vincent as a yearling largely on the basis of his standout looks and stature which made him the star of of his APG sale. They were also impressed with the promise of his half-sister MacKenzie who was then a two year old.

"He just looked magnificent and he had a wonderful temperament for a colt. He never lost that. No matter what horses he was with or where he went he was always the perfect gentleman" 

Vincent more than lived up to his looks on the track , with Mark paying a rare tribute to him after his Auckland Cup victory that if he was running against Lazarus in the Miracle Mile "it could come down to the barrier draw"

Vincent only had 19 starts and won 16 of them with a second and a third. The other start resulted in a gear failure in the Victorian Derby which resulted in him being taken out of the race. He won all the rest of his eight starts in Australia including the New South Wales Derby and the Breeder's Challenge Final taking a career best mark of 1.50.2.

Beside this season's Auckland Cup (last 800m in 54.4) , he produced an astonishing performance in the New Zealand Derby clocking a then all age national record of 3.06 and winning by two and a half lengths over Ultimate Machete who narrowly headed him in the voting in the Horse of the Year poll. Resuming as a four year old he won the Franklin Cup and the Auckland Cup with Natalie in the sulky. In the Franklin Cup he ran a New Zealand record 3.19.6 for the 2700m. Set for an Australian campaign he suffered from a suspensory problem which has now ended his career.

"He was actually coming along nicely with his rehabiltation procedures so that wasn't the problem" Jean said.

"But there are no guarantees with that sort of injury and it was going to be a long time before he raced. Even then for a stallion to come back at that elite level pf competition there were no guarantees and we wouldn't have wanted to race him where there was any risk to his well being. So we made the tough decision and accepted the offer for him as  a stallion"

"The injury came as a real shock to us because he was such a sound horse in every way. Even when it happened the x rays showed everything in the leg clean around the injury. It wasn't something that was developing it was just one of those things out of the blue that you can never know about beforehand"

"Alabar Farms and Nevele R made an offer that we decided to accept. He will stand over here in Australia.




All Stars dominated quite a few major races at Addington in the results column but few can match its reign of terror (for the opposition) in the Welcome Stakes in which it holds a strong hand on Friday. The stable has won the Group 2 race in eight of the last 10 years!

In the last four of them it has also added  two trifectas, a first 4 and a quinella and the domination looks set to continue in 2018.

Mark and Natalie have targeted the race with their youngsters though quite a few of the stable's best known horses have missed it for various reasons. The best known of recent winners is WAIKIKI BEACH who headed the first 4 of 2015, Motu Premier, Chase the Dream and MacKenzie-now a major winner in the US and a half-sister to Vincent.

Neil Pilcher has one unusual record in the race. He was won it as an owner (four times) more often than Mark has won as a driver in the last decade. Mark  has driven only three of the last eight winners though he has six winners in all.

One of his most memorable was way back in 1989 when MARK HANOVER won. Generally regarded as the horse who took Mark into the big time as a driver, Mark Hanover's win was one of his first big wins at Addington, a few months after Tax Credit had caused a huge upset in the NZ Free for All.

Upsets are not unknown in the Welcome either. Most notable was ZACHARIA raced by Neil and Trevor Casey ( co-owner with Neil of Waikiki Beach) who won at 25/1 in 2013 driven by Blair Orange. Isaiah was the stable elect and Regulus and Tiger Tara the favourites but Zacharia-who is still racing successfully in Perth-came with the last run and downed the stars.

HIGHVIEW TOMMY, ALTA ORLANDO  and KOTARE MACH have been the other winners in the last decade while earlier winners for Mark were ADVANCE ATTACK, LIGHT AND SOUND and the first BOGAN FELLA  in 1996



I first went to Australia back in 1953 when I was just a youngster and it was a great adventure for me. I was working with Dad (Hugh) and we had  good mare at that time called Dawnlight. Tom Banfield, a butcher owned her and while she was doing well here he wanted her to race in Australia. He had always wanted to race horses in Australia and this was his chance. He bought a pacing gelding from Leo Berkett called Temple Star and he was the tavelling companion. 

We went over on the Wanganella and it was quite a trip. The horses were way down at the bottom of the hold and from deck level it was quite an adventure just to get down that far. Loading them on was a thrill too they swung so high above the water. You couldn't do much with the horses when you got there but I would get up early work my way down to the hold, muck out the stalls and feed the horses and then climb all the way back for breakfast. I was always first to breakfast ! I still haven't forgotten the meals on the ships in those days. They were marvellous !. I was already looking forward to the trip home !

It was a  calm trip over and we settled in a private stable not far from the track at Harold Park. We actually sold Temple Star before he raced. I used to work fairly early in the morning and I noticed a few up in the stand keeping an eye open. Temple Star was past his best but he was a brilliant trackworker and they must have been clocking him. Anyway we got an offer for him and took it because he was probably going to be better sold on his trackwork than on his raceday form.  I think that is how it turned out. 

We had our own cart and everything there and the racing was good. I have to say they were a pretty sporting lot and I never got into any trouble in the races. I think I only won one at Harold Park but we ran several placings and then headed home. I was pretty pleased with myself at the time though the boys did a lot more on their first trips in later years !  Certainly it was a great experience.

Dawnlight was a very good mare. She was running against the best in Auckland after that as well as the best from Canterbury and  she ultimately went down to Wes Butt because the opportunities were better down there and he won  top race with her at Addington.

When she bred she left a good line. (Victoria won 8 races and bred on ).Dawn Mist was a smart performer and so was Miles Gentry (Charles Bronson is a more recent winner for the family in the south). 

**Temple Star was a typical Leo Berkett horse having won the NZ Trotting Stakes at three for him but later adept at both gaits



Neil Pilcher has achieved a few useful multiples in his time -the NZ Derby quinella of Fly Like an Eagle and Smolda springs to mind-but his feat in owning a winning trifecta at Addington  on Saturday was a rare achievement indeed. 

Pilch races Mr Kalypso with Natalie, and Trevor Titcomb. But his big moment came later in the day when Zion Bromac raced in partnership with Mike Woodlock, an All Stars part -time assistant, and Natalie's mother Cheryl. Second-placed Turn It Up he races with an old mate, Jim Gibbs; and the third placegetter Mach Up he races with Trevor Casey and Cheryl Rasmussen.

Zion Bromac was the first of two winners for Nathan who drove the race about how he saw it. 

"We had to make a move at some time" Nathan said after his finely judged front running drive. "I saw Mark going forward and thought I had a chance for the front and it was all ok from there"

Of all those performers, however, MR KALYPSO was probably the most satisfying for Neil if only because of Pilch's patience waiting for it. 

Mr Kalypso was an outstanding prospect as a two year old sharing box office looks with Vincent and being sent on an early expedition to Australia where he was driven by Michelle on debut and then posted a placing in an APG heat before returning home. 

Mr Kalypso then ran into breathing problems having had two operations in the time since but a long buildup has helped clear him of any problems and he was primed to run a big race on Saturday-even if Natalie thought she might have preferred to drive Ohanzee who was checked out of the race.



All Stars have an UNMATCHED record in the Flying Stakes the G2 feature on Friday night having won 11 times in all since 1996. More incredibly the stable has won 10 renewals this century since Hunka Hickling won the first  in 2000 . Even more remarkably, since Auckland Reactor won in 2008 All Stars have won 8 renewals in the race being beaten in only two years in the last 10 - in 2011 when Major Mark ran third to the dead-heaters Terror To Love and Gold Ace in a memorable year of three year olds -and 2013 when Border Control ran Ohoka Punter to a neck. The winner was driven by Tony Herlihy who guided Sharp and Telford to All Stars first win in the race back in 1996 when Mark drove third- placed The Court Owl.

On Friday the stable is tying for a fifth win in succession a run started  when  2014 when Natalie guided Isaiah home. That was followed by another huge stat in 2015 when Have Faith In Me, Follow the Stars and Hug the Wind trifectaed the race.

The race history is a story of harness racing in miniature in New Zealand and one factor in the battles owners and trainers have had to stay competitive. Southland stables won several of the early editions after the introduction of the race in 1980 but haven't won since Country Edition was successful for Colin Baynes in 2001. Fillies no longer take on the males but Preferred beat her mail rivals in 1984 the only filly to win.

The tale of the race stake tells another story. It began at a modest $12,500 but the inflationary boom of the 1980's saw it rise to $45,00 by 1986, $50,000 the following year and $70,000 by 1990. It returned to $50,000 in the early 1990's  until reduced to $40,000 in 2011,  before being restored to $50,000 this term.

WINNERS: Sharp and Telford (1996) Hunka Hickling (2000) Jack Cade (2002) Auckland Reactor (2008) Sleepy Tripp (2009) Kotare Mach (2010) Smolda (2012) -quinella with Fly Like Eagle-Isiaah (2014) Have Faith in Me (2015) Lazarus (2016) Ultimate Machete (2017




All Stars Stable has won seven races on the card three times stretching from 2009 until 2018 and these owners, Phil and Glenys Kennard and Neil Pilcher have featured among the winners in all three of them, a handy feat over a nine year span. It would be fair to say that Trevor Casey only missed by one day joining the top circle and and Bill and Jean Feiss, who were not stable patrons in 2009 have made some strong ground since. 

PHIL AND GLENYS raced Major Mark and Highview Tommy when All Stars produced their history smashing Magnificent Seven in December 2009. On Cup Day 2014 when All Stars won seven of the only nine races in which it competed (12 race programme) the Kennards featured in the ownership of Prince Fearless and had two winners last week, Anthem and Tennyson Bromac all in partnership.

PILCH   who also dislikes racing horses on his own, won two races at the 2009 meeting in Major Mark and Russley Rascal probably two of the four best horses he has owned.  In 2014 he featured as an owner of Prince Fearless  and last week scored a double with Turn it Up and Funatthebeach.

TREVOR CASEY NOW HAS AN EQUAL CLAIM  having owned outright Pocaro a winner in 2009 and Winterfell a winner last week. He is also a shareholder in Funatthebeach.A winner in 2014  was the Bill Feiss-owned Messini (one of two winners for Bill that day) and while only Bill's name was in the ownership officially Trevor became a partner the day before the race and not the day after.. Messini won among other races the Christian Cullen FFA at Addington that season and was later sold in Australia. 

"I've got the strongest evidence-I got my share of the stakes!" Trevor notes. 

"I actually paid for my share the day before the race but my name wasn't included on the day's result. "


March 16- All Stars produced 7 winners on a programme for the third time, this one at Addington and the first since 2014. But it was the best beause thestable won all seven raced it competed for. Take a lot of beating that

March 15

Bill Feiss dropped a hint in  responding to the habit of the Feiss's to race their horses under separate names even though they are essentially a partnership. The policy may well have cost them Owners of the Year in the past and might again this year.

"It is not that big a deal though we were runners up as leading owners at Moonee Valley a few times years ago. We couldn't beat the Knights" Bill said

In those days Jean was training the team herself along with son Matthew

Last season Jean raced the best two year old filly and the best three year old filly and Vincent was Bill's star. Nobody would quibble with the connections of Lazarus being Owners of the Year but the Feiss partnership has built an astonishing strike rate in a relatively short time. 

Jean has added considerably too to Yearling Sales turnover. She has bought  four sale toppers as yearlings just in recent years and the three to race, Vincent, Sicario and Jesse Duke have all made their mark.

 Bill is hopeful about the racing future of Vincent after his stem cell operation. 

"The op went well and and he has been boxed since. Now he goes into a yard and then into a paddock and he will be exercised every day. Its a long process and hopefully it will work out. The problem is that he is a colt and he is putting weight on. WE have to keep on top of that"

Back in Rolleston Vincent will continue light exercise. Like his dad, Roy, Mark is sceptical of the lengthy spell originally prescribed for Vincent

"I haven't had much luck bringing horses with suspensory problems back from long spells " Mark said.

Most recently he was probably thinking of  the hugely talented Didjamakem Bolt who did everything by the book (including exercise and a long buildup)  but either  failed to  survive the final stages of a race preparation or had a brief racing return before experiencing further problems. 

"It's never easy to get them back when they are racing at the highest level" Bill said 

"But he is good enough to try and he is a sensible horse which helps"

Bill and Jean were at Alexandra Park for the memorable Group One wins with Elle Mac and Jesse Duke last week and  had a tiki tour of the country driving down from Auckland during the week to watch Elle Mac score in the Nevele R heat on Friday. It would be fair to say that Bill, once a rarer visitor on this side of the Tasman where Jean is a devoted follower of her racing team, has become a more regular traveller lately.

In the meantime check the ownership of Jesse Duke. Bill's name might work its way into the  book-and he will be even more regular then !



Mark will be hoping for a second training win in the Miracle Mile on Saturday night and if it happens he will know it has been well earned. So will Natalie. Both could tell you how hard a race it is to win. Bloody hard!. Even by super race standards

All Stars has one on the board thanks to HAVE FAITH IN ME driven by Natalie in his fabulous, record shattering  2016 victory over Lennythshark. But both Mark and Natalie have hard luck stories in other runnings of the race. BLACKS A FAKE posted two second placings for Natalie one by half a head. IL VICOLO was twice second also for Mark. The second time, when he went down to Iraklis in December 1996 they set a mile rate which was never bettered in the race while it was run over 1760m, which it was until 2009.

JACK CADE trained and driven by Mark was second to Sokyola in 2003 and SMOLDA second to Lennytheshark last year when LAZARUS was third and WAIKIKI BEACH 4th.  That makes six second placings between Mark and Natalie so perhaps Natalie's strike rate won her the drive this year !

The race is also tougher for New Zealand horses to win than you may think especially given the number of superstar horses we have developed i n the last 20 years. Kiwi-trained horses have only won four Miles this century. Holmes D G won his second in 2000, Monkey King won the first mile race nine years later and Christen Me and Have Faith In Me have scored since.

The other thing about the Miracle Mile- If you are an avid supporter of the Kiwis and you have heart problems-don't watch.

Only one horse has won the race over the mile  by more than 2 metres. Which isn't very far. The last three have been won by short half heads (nose to us) or a head and that tradition looks like continuing on Saturday. Only one  of the mile races has not broken 1.51 and that was when Smoken UP easily beat Karloo Mick and Imamightyquinn back in 2011. There is no fear of a 1.51 mile this year with 1.47 under threat if we get the fireworks many are expecting,     


Awill take 18 horses to the workouts at Rangiora on Wednesday and return home with 19- ENHANCE YOUR CALM has been purchased by stable clients after impressing Mark at the trials last week handling him for the Gavin Smith stable.

"The connections have him on the market and he seems a nice trotter in the making" he said at the time. Enhance Your Calm had just qualified in well under the time and travelling well. Mark  obviously thought he was even nicer on reflection and the business has been done.

Enhance Your Calm has a solid trotting background though he is from a "converted" pacing line further back.  His dam All Settled Down  (Sundon) returned to racing after foaling him in 2015 and has won four races for the Smith stable. The second dam Shimmie Shook Shook (Holdonmyheart) won two races for Mike Austin in an extended career while the third dam Rebecca Bret -a rare trotter by Knowing Bret-ran third in a Rowe Cup for Colin Butler and won seven in all. The next two generations has many foals for moderate success but lo and behold way back in the family is AURIE'S STAR a notable dam of high class pacers.

Her first foal to race was Northern Star raced by Len Tisch of Christchurch and  a black type filly by modern reckoning often taking on the best colts and geldings as fillies did in those days. And sometimes beating them.  She only left one filly but one of her sons, Distant Star, was an outstanding pacing performer for Tisch winning nine races which was then one step off Cup class.


Aurie's Star's next foal was the near champion YOUNG CHARLES  raced by Bob Mayne of Riccarton and trained by Colin Berkett. Young Charles raced one of the best crops of pacing youngsters of the modern era but was as good as or better than any of them as he finally proved when given a decent stud opportunity in Southland leaving Young Quinn, Sapling etc. Perhaps the most notable measure of Young Charles's rating was the sensational 1954 New Zealand Cup won by Johnny Globe with Rupee third. Young Charles only had one leadup race to the Cup, in August, because of soundness issues but after giving Johnny Globe a drag into the race three wide for half a lap and fighting like a tiger all the way up the straight was a touch unlucky. The climax was that Johnny Globe took three seconds off the world record in that race and that had been set by the great Highland Fling. In any other year until then it is Young Charles who is the sensational Cup winner !

Aurie's Star then produced OHIO a top class performer for Sir John McKenzie and George Noble and finally a sister to Young Charles, Auriaga, who was sold to Australia as a yearling and who is the founder of the trotting side of the family.

But it took a while. Famous Aussie trainer, Jack Watts, bred Starmiss from Auriaga but she was relentlessly bred to pacing stallions on both sides of the Tasman. The horse who probably turned the breed was YOUNG MORRIS, bred by Yendarra Stud in Auckland, who won the NZ Trotting Stakes of 1966 for Trevor Moore beating Highland Fortress and Coronet Peak though a son of pacing sire Morris Eden. But even then it  took another two generations of pacing bred horses before Rebecca Bret changed the equation.

Enhance Your Calm is bred on the same cross as Prince Fearless and Stress Factor and other prominent trotters such as Eyre I Come and One Over Da Moon and his upcoming form for All Stars will be interesting,



Natalie feels the three week penalty she received for "half carting" during the Hunter Cup was excessive and has a stay of proceedings until her appeal against the penalty is held.

The penalty would prevent her driving Heaven Rocks, The Devii's Own, Partyon etc on Miracle Mile day at Menangle.

"It is the first time I have been charged with that offence  and compared with what other drivers were receiving for penalty it seems very harsh"

Natalie says that Heaven Rocks receiving a warning for barrier manners at Ballarat which led to his removal from the mobile draw after the Hunter Cup was "news to us"

"We didn't know about that and indeed we weren't told about the Hunter Cup decision either. It is a blow for "Mene's" chances       



(Heaven Rocks did not parade correctly in formation which apparently takes him out of the barrier draw in his next three races, after being warned at Ballarat,  and was also the subject of a vet inspection for hanging in. Natalie was outed for for a rather harsh three weeks but an appeal possible)

*ALL U NEED IS LOVE  wins stylishly at Menangle  BARE KNUCKLE  fades from parked to finish fifth


*A series of setbacks for the stars of the team with Lazarus out of the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups and Ultimate Machete also sidelined 


Jean and Bill Feiss have set a number of records over recent seasons at All Stars, but successive Group Ones under separate ownership at Auckland must be close to an industry first.  Elle Mac (Jean calls her "Ellie") took out the Sires Stakes Championship for her at Alexandra Park and then Bill as the owner of Vincent took out the Auckland Cup. Harder to think of another husband /wife combination who have won  both the G1's on the same day when two were run. 

Since joining All Stars the Feiss family have an imposing list of G1 winners  Spanish Armada won 6, Vincent has won 4 so far; Elle Mac 3; Chase the Dream 2 ; Willow 1 ; while  Messini and Twentyten have been "trans Tasman"-trained G1 winners who were developed by All Stars.Then there has been winners like Sicario, Riccardo. MacKenzie and  Backup not to mention Sammy Maguire the horse who started it all where All Stars are concerned. So many G1 winners for owners racing on their own and not with overwhelming numbers is most unusual.                       


Words help a lot of racehorses. Help owners feel better about them. Help trainers to sell them. Help the public to cheer them home. With LAZARUS words seem superflous. They cannot describe adequately how good he is.

You can say his NZ Cup win was arrogant. But we said that last year. You can say that we haven't had a Cup winner like this in decades but we said that last year after he won by 10 len. This year it was only 5.75l. But then last year he wasn't going to Perth for the Inter Dominions.  It must have seemed to Mark that  a little bit in reserve wasn't a bad  thing. 

Last year he set a world record. But that wasn't necessary this time. Mark has never been a man to judge his horses by statistics. He judges them by how they perform.  And he judges Lazarus the best he has ever trained. 

When you think about that it is a hell of a compliment. But are we surprised ?

Its hard to fault Lazarus. Speed and stamina. Manners and temperament.  Sounder than a bell and unruffled by almost everything. 

Strangely people call Heaven Rocks, because he does things differently, a "freak" pacer. 

In reality Lazarus is the freak.

A freak of nature, a freak of performance one of the most docile stallions you would ever find. 

It is nearly 20 years since we produced a horse anything like Lazarus when Christian Cullen, his maternal grandfather, strode the turf. And he is building a superior record even to that superstar.

It will be more than 20 years before we see a better.  That's about the only words we have left to say.


*Mark Puts Cup Win on Same Plane as last year's 10 length triumph

*Dream About Me (no part) , Have Faith in Me and Heaven Rocks strike problems in Cup

*Chase Auckland sets new record in Sires Stakes-the 4th successive win in the race for All Stars an amazing stat.

*Several All Stars runners affected by checks and wide runs


(Australian dollars)

(November 2017)

1 Black's a Fake $4.575m 2 Im Themightyquinn $4.567m 3-Smoken Up $3.66m 4-Mr Feelgood* $3.36m 6- Monkey King $3.33 m 7 Lennytheshark $2.56 8 Lazarus $ 2.45m 8 Smolda $2.4om-9Terror To Love $2.377m 10 Changeover $2.32m 11-Shakamaker $2.29m

*Mr Feelgood earned the bulk of his stakes in the USA

Other horses we have found to have won over $A2m in descending order- Our Sir Vancelot, Lyell Creek*, Christen Me, Beautide, Village Kid, and Westburn Grant.

NZ ONLY -Elsu won over $NZ2m while Luxury Liner, Christopher Vance, Chokin, Auckland Reactor, Master Musician, Holmes D G and Yulestar won between$1.7m and $1.9m each.

*Lyell Creekwon over $2.9m according to his New Zealand record which would place him 7th on our overall(unofficial) list


Waikiki Beach, once rated alongside Lazarus in media speculation when both were young, has been sold to the US after a disappointing spring and majority owner, Trevor Casey. is just a little sad to see him go.

"The reality is that with one thing and another this spring there are three or four horses at All Stars who have the edge on him. But he did a great job for us and that should not be forgotten"

A great job indeed. He won 23 of 38 starts and was placed in a further seven.  At $970,000 he went close to being another All Stars millionaire. 

Not only that he caused a minor sensation winning his first 17 races in a row, then another four in succession after his first defeat in a lower class resuming race he also a 1.50.8 best mile time at that age. He  may have been responsible for a breeding trend all by himself.

Waikiki Beach was the first young superstar from a Bettor's Delight mare and mating them to Somebeachsomewhere has become a popular cross with breeders as a result.

Originally owned by Trevor, Neil Pilcher and Cheryl Rasmussen, Trevor took over Neil's share when he cut back his travelling to Australia where Barney did most of his racing.

For all that Trevor has fond memories of his first win at his first start in the Kindergarten Stakes and his second in the Welcome Stakes which Trevor and Neil had won also with Zakaria.

"And the Breeder's Crown win was memorable. They just kept attacking him one after another in front and he fought them all off. But we had a lot of thrills with him"


Unsung hero of Lazarus's triumph in the New Zealand Cup (and other stable winners at the meeting) was the Pegasus racing sulky built by Gary Roberts in Templeton.

Ok so there are so many modern sulkies it is not funny. They all have a marketing story But this one is a unique mixture of new and old.   And Mark loves it.

He fitted it to Lazarus this spring and was rapt with the results.  Lazarus is the first horse  to win a Cup in a hickory cart since Terror to Love's second Cup several years ago.

Other All Stars major winners  also pulled one

"Gary makes our work carts and he has made a great job of these Pegasus race carts too " Mark said

"I have used the modern steel carts like everyone but when I tried this one I found because it was lighter it was easier on the wheels -you can hear them grinding sometimes on the other carts-and had more natural spring as you would expect from high grade timber"

"I found that I could drive five or six races in a steel cart and have a sore back the next day whereas with this one there is no problem.  It may be different for lighter drivers though I am not really heavy anyway!. I think its just the lightness and the spring in the wood"

Gary Roberts has specialised in sulky wheels for years having a bicycle industry background and then moved on to carts.

"We bring in the highest grade hickory, have a wider cart than the old Bryants along the American lines but has the Bryant build standards" he says.

"Gary puts a hell of a lot of work into these carts" Mark adds

"You don't just get the hickory in and start building the sulky. There's a lot of shaping and adjusting going on before that happens"

"Gary offered people trials of the carts and guarantees them from a safety angle through all the racing, fixing anything wrong.   

The only problem ? Laz can't pull  the Pegasus in Australia.

"They banned wooden carts over there quite a few years ago. I did apply to use the Pegasus on this trip but, not surprisingly,  they turned it down"

But it will be waiting at home-and maybe is the next generation of speed carts in New Zealand. Certainly if its good enough for champions and budding stars at All Stars it is good enough for anyone!

**********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************MARK SAYS HE DOESN'T THINK ABOUT CECIL AND JAMES AS HE NEARS CUP RECORD

LAZARUS'S STUNNING  New Zealand Cup on Tuesday was Mark Purdon's 5th win in the race-only one behind all time record holders Cecil Devine and James Bryce who each trained six winners. And Mark has more years up his sleeve than either of the other greats who were both in their 60's for  their final wins. A win on Tuesday will take him past father Roy and brother Barry who also chalked up 4 wins.

Mark has always maintained he concentrates on the "now" and lets the records look after themselves and it is a feature of the careers of most great horsemen and sportsmen generally. They also take the view that records are made to be broken. But it is now nearly 40 years since Devine equalled the Bryce record and most thought it would stand for at least as long.

"I am not looking at the Cup like that. But I do rate it as the race to win in New Zealand, a very special sort of race and that is why I like to target it as often as I can"

He knows how hard it is to hit the target and so did Bryce and Devine. Bryce's wins were the quickest between 1916 and 1933 a 17 year cycle in which at one stage his runners had been in the first three in 9 of 12 seasons.  Devine  trained his first winner in 1951 and his last Lord Module 28 years later. False Step's triple victories had a major impact Mark's first was Il Vicolo in 1995 which was, rather amazingly, his fifth drive in the Cup.

Now son Nathan will have his first Cup drive at 21 on Have Faith In Me That will be a special moment for him. But as he and his Dad both know, winning Cups never comes easily.

The youngest driver to take part in the race was James Bryce jnr at 18 in 1920 and he and Allan Holmes both won the race aged 21.


Long term plans for champion LAZARUS have not been decided but Cup Day could be the last time he will be seen at Addington in a long while -and maybe  ever.

Nobody is taking any extreme options about his longer term future but when he flies out of Christchurch on Thursday  en route to Perth that is the last New Zealand will see of him this season.

"He will be doing what Smolda and company did last year" Mark said of the Inter Dominions. "He will fly out of Perth after the Inter Doms but to Melbourne and Sydney for the carnival racing there. There is no point in bringing him back here just to fly back to Australia"

The Thursday plane goes to Sydney and joins  up with a flight to Melbourne and on to Perth on Sunday. Poi will be in charge until Mark arrives in Perth on Sunday.

"I can't see him racing here again this season. The races are just not there.   After the features over there he will be going for a spell. Hopefully he will be back in the spring but you don't look too far ahead with horses even ones as good as him"

Lazarus is poised for a lucrative stud career but that is not the main focus of his syndicate of owners.

"We are into racing not breeding. Going to stud is not a priority and we hope he can race on" says syndicate leader Phil Kennard.

"So we hope he will be back next spring but its  a long way away just now.

"There is certainly a lot of interest in him as a stud horse. I am getting calls all the time "


2017-Lazarus 1st 3.55 1st- 

Have Faith in Me, Dream About Me and Heaven Rocks unplaced.

2016- LAZARUS 1ST-3,53,1 world record-

Titan Banner 3rd Smolda 4th - Have Faith in Me 13th

2015-SMOLDA 2ND  Mark 3.57.4 Messini 5th Natalie


Hands Christian -Natalie 9th-Arden Rooney Tim 12th

2013-FLY LIKE AN EAGLE -Mark   (3.57) 2ND

2012 HIGHVIEW TOMMY- Blair Orange- 2nd. SUSHI SUSHI -Natalie 3rd MAJOR MARK -Colin De Filippi 5th;Fly Like an Eagle (Mark) 7th Auckland Reactor -Maurice McKendry 15th.

2011- HIGHVIEW TOMMY -BLAIR ORANGE-3RD 3.58.8 (Vit Et Animo and Natalie Rasmussen 10th)

2010-SLEEPY TRIPP -MARK PURDON -3RD  4.01.1 (Highview Tommy and Blair Orange 5th. Ohoka Dallas and Tony Herlihy 14th) )



2007-CLASSIC CULLEN-Mark-11th

2006-MIGHTY CULLEN -Blair Orange  4TH  IMAGINE THAT -Mark-10TH

2005-BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN (Trainer Grant Payne) Jim Curtin-9TH-LIKMESIAH -Blair Orange -12TH



2002-YOUNG RUFUS- Anthony Butt-6th.


2001-CIGAR -Ken Barron 5TH-BOGAN FELLA-Mark -6TH











Matt Bowden, better known to many as Poi, is a valued member of  All Stars -and right now he is glad to be up and about and fulfilling his duties with the northern-based team. Not to mention  feeling very very  lucky.

Several weeks ago Poi, who did a sterling job with the All Stars travelling team in Australia earlier, was preparing to take a break. With a few mates he was booked to fly to the States for some R and R before the major part of the season began.

"When the day arrived I wasn't feeling all that good, sort of if I was getting the flu. My mates said never mind with a chance to rest on a long flight it will come right.  So I agreed to get on the plane with them. But I sat  there thinking I am only getting worse and I have to face 12 hours of this until we finally arrive. So I decided enough was enough and I got off the plane. "

It was a decision which may have, and probably did,  save his life.

Poi's original symptoms were  from pneumonia but it got worse than that. When he reached hospital he was told his kidneys were shutting down.

"I was really sick and to be honest for once I was also really scared. Everything seemed to be happening at once and it was all bad"

He was hospitalised for some time as his kidneys had an "each way" bet about responding to treatment. But eventually they did and while there  is ongoing treatment he feels he is almost fully recovered or well on the way to it. 




p has even approached the stable UDR assessment which topped 0.50 in 2016 and held strongly at 0.44    last season.  But that is not the whole story.  Often All Stars horses don't win because  there is another All Star horse who does.  In one race last season we had six runners and several times we had five. So while the stats show we won 110 races from 363 starters this in no way reflects the the number of actual races All Stars contested or its true strike rate

In fact in only 45 races won did we have a single starter meaning in 67 races won we had multiple starters.  Certainly this can aid your winning chances especially with the strong lineup All Stars produces in age group and open class racing but it still means only one starter can win.  So in essence ALL STARS was first 110 times  from 250 individual races  a win strike rate of close to 50 per cent.   We will wait a long time before a strike rate on that winning scale is equalled or bettered by another stable.



A list of winners you might not see the like of again !

Horse of the Year-Lazarus

Owners of the Year-Phil and Glenys Kennard

Trainers of the Year-Mark and Natalie

2Yo Filly of the Year- Elle Mac 

2yo Colt/Gelding  of the Year-Spankem

3yo Filly of the Year-Spanish Armada

3yo Colt/Gelding of the Year-Ultimate Machete

4yo Colt/Gelding of the Year-Lazarus

4yo Mare of the Year-Dream About Me

5yo+ Pacer of the Year-Smolda 

Pacer of the Year: Lazarus


Sky Major is no longer part of the plan but former All Stars foreman,  Duane Marfisi, is making a good fist of re-establishing himself in Canadian pacing circles after an absence of  several years.

"It's taking time but I expected that You don't just walk back in and start where you left off. But we've got a team of around 14-15 a mixture of young horses and older ones and we are building up the operation again"

Duane returned home this year when his wife, Janet, was offered a prestigious position at the University of Geulph in Ontario.  Duane was understandably reluctant to leave because of the wonderful association he had had with Mark and Natalie which he regarded as a career highlight.  But family comes first and with Janet's position and the keenness of his family to return there was never much doubt shifting back was inevitable.

"We bought a house here recently and are really settling in. Janet's job is working out well and I am back doing what I like doing best"

Sky Major gave Duane a huge thrill when the Trevor Casey and John Lohan owned gelding won first up for him in Canada early this year.

The former Barry Purdon-trained star went close to 1.50 and thoughts turned to the rich Yonkers series for older pacers but unhappily that win was the highlight,

Sky Major only finished fifth in a race Duane was sure he would win second up when it transpired his bleeding history had returned. He raced on Lasix after that but broke down with a leg injury some time ago and had to be retired.

"It was a disappointment but that's racing. You are always expecting something might happen to these older horses. They have been through a lot by the time they race at this level"


Duane was a tremendous admirer of the skills of Mark and Natalie as trainers and he knew what he was talking about. He worked for some time with the great Bill Robinson in the States, the man who prepared Cam's Card Shark (which Duane regularly drove in work) Precious Bunny and Presidential Ball so working with great horsepeople was no novelty.

"Because of the racing style here  I am a bit limited in how many of Mark and Natalie's methods I can use from a practical point of view but I often reflect back on that time when I am doing my thinking about a horse"

"Horses race here more often so the training regime is lighter otherwise you would overload them and there are other differences. But I still think fondly of my time in New Zealand and I am looking forward to meeting up with Mark and Natalie during the World Driver's Championship."


Tim undergoes shoulder surgery on Thursday and is likely to be off the racing scene for three months.  How he is going to handle that downtime is not his main priority though he knows it will be soon enough.

"My main concern is that the op goes well and the recovery goes well. Any more time on the sidelines would be a bit of a disaster.  So I am not thinking past sitting on the sofa at this stage making sure I do everything right to make it back to the right condition.  I know that will become frustrating even if everything is going to plan but I will face that when the time comes. And I will be hoping I can get back before they forget about me !

Seriously I am not sure just when it is I can start doing something but it won't be until well into the spring and it won't be easy sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else out there driving. But I have to get it done if I want to go on driving at the top level myself"

Tim has had a number of highlights this season  but in the end goes for CASH N FLO winning against top fields in Auckland and then coming back to win a Sires Stakes feature late in the season.

"That last win especially because of what had happened in the Jewels and because the owners had supported me so strongly it was good to bounce back and win that. I have to thank Mark and Natalie for that. They did a great job getting him back to top form in a short time. 

In Auckland he was great too though.  I think I would be correct in saying that he is the only horse this season to take the lead off Heaven Rocks!"

I am not putting any downer on Ashley Locaz in the Jewels. That was another pretty amazing training effort and we just got the run we needed for a horse who was a little underdone. To come out and run that time on the prep he had shows just what great trainers Mark and Nat are"

Tim's record: Career-302 wins of $4.1 million. 2017 season 34 wins of $587,000 UDR .2321 (2nd best of career)



Matt has shown growing skills and maturity at All Stars and is recognised as one of the most promising Juniors in the business quite apart from success rates.  

His first winner, for a mentor Robbie Holmes, was Highview Ember at Rangiora in August 2013 a season when he posted 7 wins from 57 drives to get away to a good start. He transferred to All Stars in 2014 and posted his first win for the stable in July of that year with Better With Bourbon at Rangiora.  Four of his first season winners were trotters for Ken Sefonte and he also drove a winner for Maurice McKendry a man who can recognise talent and for Lew Driver. 

Most of his 2015 season wins were for All Stars including horses like Backup, Lightfingered, Full Speed Ahead and Northern Velocity . Last season he again struck up an affinity for the trotter winning three with Blackguard's Corner including the rich John Devlin Memorial at Alexandra Park for the Butterworths but posted his biggest pacing win when Costa Del Magnifico which he had earlier steered to an 11.5 len win in a Junior race, won the Invercargill Cup. He scored a notable win for Piccadilly Princess in a Nevele R heat holding out favoured stablemate Golden Goddess.

This season Smiley Sophie have him his first win on NZ Cup day and Pulp Fiction was another smart performer he guided to victory,  His last win was his easiest-on Imperial Whiz in a Breeder's Crown heat at Addington. He didn't have to leave the parade ring, 

One of his biggest thrills came however when he finally made the Australasian Junior Drivers Championship in Perth this season run in conjunction with the Inter Dominions It was the most memorable fortnight in the young driver's life. Using the deft hands which were advancing his reputation he overcame some ordinary prospects in pre-post odds to finish third but actually on the same points total (71) as second placed Robbie Close and just two points behind winner Todd McCarthy.

Yet Matt remembers Perth for a different reason.

"I think watching Smolda fight out that Inter Dominion finish was the biggest thrill I had in my stay here.  It was our stable horse, he was such a great horse to work with and Mark and Natalie had him just right. I got a real thrill out of just being there to watch that"

But Matt gave his share of thrills to others don't worry.

A thoughtful person he sorted out the Ronald McDonald House for children with illness as his charity of choice. His fees from Perth were part of that generosity and one of his two sponsors, McMillan Feeds added their share. His other sponsor Coupland Bakeries is also notable for its work with charities.

Matt has continued to support Ronald McDonald House, which does not get the official assistance of some similar charities ,  with his driving fees a fine gesture for a youngster still making his own way.

He helped organise a young cancer sufferer Isaac  Southerton come out to All Stars and introduced the little fellow to the stable stars  including Lazarus. 

And so what happens next ?

"I've had several offers but I am not in any hurry. I have quite a lot of leave owing from All Stars so I will be taking that up for some time.  Then I will see what develops. I don't doubt I will miss it around here especially when the good horses are out but I am looking forward to the next opportunity"

There is also a rising two year old whom Matt invested in at the PGG Sales this year. But that is another chapter in the story.


41 Premier Wins Overall-Addington Domination

It won't be any surprise but All Stars principals Mark and Natalie again dominate most of the Addington Raceway season premierships again this season. Highlights

*They have had 51 wins on the track from 166 starters for a UDR of .4351, 27 wins ahead of the next best stable, that of Robert Dunn

*Their UDR rating is also the best well ahead of the late Mike Austin who nonetheless went out with a .3000 UDR his best

*Natalie has posted another UDR driving record. She had a remarkable 29 wins from 51 drives a ratio of .6580 well ahead of Dexter Dunn on .3431

*Last season Mark set what Addington racing manager Brian Rabbitt said was  "an amazing statistic"  with a driving UDR of .62 And it's only lasted 12 months !

*Spanish Armada still holds the lead in the Filly and Mare Competition with five wins from six starts at the track.

*The leading strike rate horses from All Stars beside Spanish Armada are Lazarus (also five wins from six starts); Spankem (four from five) ; The Devil's Own (four from six) and the ill fated Riccardo and Stars Align (three from seven)


NEVER UNPLACED IN 19 STARTS -14 WINS 1 second 3 thirds one 4 th $787,000- 6 GROUP ONES

CHAMPION FILLY  AT 2 AND 3 YEARS- 2nd to Lazarus in all age stakes won 2016-2017


She was something of an "Ugly duckling" as a youngster. Rather plain in appearance to the casual eye and even after starting racing she carried more than her share of gear which didn't making flattering photographs easy.

But she would  become the ultimate Swan among fillies of her era. 

Natalie Rasmussen has driven a lot of stars over the years and is not easily moved to overrate their achievements. But she had a special regard for "Maddy"and always considered her underrated even in spite of that wonderful record.

"A lot of people perhaps regarded her as a staying filly but she can sprint with any of them. There isn't anything she can't do. You can have her anywhere in a field and still have confidence. There aren't many fillies who give you that feeling  every time they go out"

Spanish Armada's luck finally ran out, but fortunately not on the racetrack. Injured on arrival in Sydney for the Queensland Oaks and the Breeder's Crown, races she went for because she was so well after the Jewels win, it was found the injury  to be a fracture which would have her off the scene for a long time.

She would likely have missed all of her four year old career and Jean Feiss, the original owner of the filly who sold  the breeding rights  career to Spanish Armada late last year, decided to relinquish her lease to a Southland owner.

Jean, a buyer rather than a breeder because she no longer has a suitable property for the latter , has had a wonderful return for her investment.

She bought Spanish Armada for $75,000 at the PGG Wrightson Sales and won 10 times that amount over two seasons-by any measure a good day's work.

Some highlights of "Maddy" s career

*She won first up in Auckland with Philip Butcher in the cart -one of two wins Philip scored with the filly. He also won her third race.

*At just her third start she won the Delightful Lady (G2) and at her fifth, sixth and seventh starts she won the Caduceus Club (G1) the Sires Stakes Final (G1) and the PGG Sales Final. She won six of 8 starts and was the Filly of the Year

*She was only beaten twice as a three year old in a Sires Stakes Heat and the Pascoe Northern Oaks won by stablemate Partyon. Her win included the Sires Stakes Final (G1) Caduceus Ladyship Stakes (G2) the PGG Sales Final, a heat and the final (G1) of the Nevele R Filly Series, the New Zealand Oaks (G1) and the Harness Jewels (G1).

Even by All Stars standards that is one stunning record. And all that time Natalie and Mark were stripping back those gear additions. 

What is more while Natalie wouldn't admit excuses, as usual, Spanish Armada certainly had them for the ONLY TWO TIMES she was beaten in a Group One race, both times by the super talented stablemate Partyon.

In the 2016 Jewels Spanish Armada drew 10 over the mile and had to come from a long way back, always difficult at Cambridge. Meanwhile Mark was cleverly judging a moderate (by Jewels standard) pace in the middle stages  with Partyon before sprinting home in 27 and change. In the circumstances Maddy's third was a huge effort.

In the Pascoe Oaks this year, Spanish Armada also drew badly and dropped back to last. 10 lengths from the leaders on settling, she  was three wide in the middle stages then parked. After all that she couldn't quite hold out pacemaker Partyon.

The Spanish Armada magic might not have fallen far from the tree so to speak.  Her full brother fetched $140,000 at this year's Sales being bought by Barry Purdon  and owned by Woodlands.  Hardly surprising since Barry won well over $300,000 with a closely related filly Cheer The Lady a New Zealand Oaks winner herself and a three quarter sister to Maddy.

But that colt will have to be very good to have a better record than Spanish Armada.Fillies like this don't come along often. All honour to her achievements.

***NATHAN PURDON is "coming home" in the new season rejoining the Mark and Natalie stable after gaining valuable experience on both sides of the Tasman.

Nathan has lived and breathed horses for a long time and his association with the champion mare ADORE ME from where he was never far away as a stropper throughout her career. But that was watching and Nathan never wanted to be just watching. 

His first drive was a pointer to the future. He drove subsequent NZ Cup winner  Arden Rooney at Rangiora in a track record 3.09 for 2600m. It was a thrill but Nathan knew it was just the beginning and there was a long way to go,

In 2015 he followed Mark's footsteps and headed to Australia for new opportunities. That began with Ian Gurney, trainer of Avonova who was a great supporter. Nathan won 28 of 114 drives on this stint in Brisbane. 

"I was very lucky with the people I was associated with over there. Ian gave me every opportunity,  Luke and Berlinda McCarthy got me some nice drives and then I had a good learning time with Greg and Skye Bond in Perth winning the Group 2 San Simeon Final at Gloucester Park.

Then last year he hooked up with Dean Braun in Victoria but then when offered the opportunity to train and drive Ohoka Punter for the Brisbane carnival he was headed back north "where the opportunities for concession drivers are so good"

Nathan realised his G1 dream earlier than even he thought he might, guiding Ohoka Punter to a lead up win in the Blacks a Fake beating Hectorjayjay and Ultimate Art in the rain at Albion Park.

"Really unbelievable the way it happened. Obviously my biggest thrill in racing so far. I could hardly believe it "

This year Nathan returned to New Zealand and took up an offer to work with Cran Dalgety's stable.

"That was a great opportunity. Cran has given me every opportunity and I am really grateful for that support. It has meant a lot to me"

Now it is back into the All Stars colours and Nathan looking to make his final mark in Junior Driver races.

"I have one season left and I want to make the most of it, make my mark on the Junior scene"

"But there will be plenty to do with the stable horses and driving those sort of animals in work is something that is obviously a big plus. But I will be just happy to learn a bit more from the old man. He knows a bit."

And the next generation is there to learn as much as he can,.



One of the most exciting imports to All Stars in recent times is the American trotter, Aldebaran Eagle, nowa five year old who has chalked up several high class performances in the US. His biggest moment came in the International Stallion Stake when he defeatedWhom Shall I Fear and he has taken a 1.52.2 mile time at the Meadowlands. Aldebaran Eagle has also been remarkably consistent in his racing rarely finishing out of the money and regarded by his American trainer Jonas Czernmyson as a horse "who gives you a lot of options in the race"

A big bold horse, Aldebaran Eagle, was a $US70,000 purchase as a youngster then named Ramblings. He is owned by popular Australian trot supporter Duncan McPherson who has not preiously raced a horse from All Stars.

"He won't be seen out until around October" Mark said. "He has settled in well and is a sensible horse. We won't be pushing him and Duncan is keen to win the Southern Star with him if all goes well. He certainly has good numbers to back him up and I am looking forward to working with him"


*20 Group Ones by end of April

*Vincent lowers Border Control's fastest 3yo mile time-now both hold national records !

*Stake earnings exceed $6m by end of June





***ALL STARS HAS WON MORE MONEY- $2,174M- THIS SEASON TO DATE IN AUSTRALIA THAN IN NZ -$1.96M - in spite of NZ and Auckland Cup /Sires Stakes wins.


***SMOLDA NEEDS ONE MORE RACE TO TOP $1M WON THIS SEASON JUST IN AUSTRALIA! -$988,000 TO DATE AND HAS BROKEN 1.50 for the mile. He has now passed TERROR TO LOVE among NZ stake earners topping $2.4m




All the talk was Lazarus but all the action was SMOLDA as the amazing eight year old added another Group One victory to a remarkable tally on Saturday night. Galvinated by a typical Anthony Butt aggressive drive which stretched Lazarus with three quarters better than 28 in succession after the four year old had had to work hard to get up to the pace, the more seasoned Smolda smoked his rivals and this time there was no miraculous rise from Lazarus even though he was far from disgraced.

Anthony Butt, who has shared dual Ballarat Cups success with Mark in the last few years, did not go for the first lunge for the lead but left no doubt about his intentions when he made his move on the first lap. From then on it was action aplenty with a sensational 1.54.8 mile race the key to what happened afterward. Lazarus, who seemed to take exception to something he saw going out of the straight and at times raced greenly, lost nothing when his sectional times are taken into account. The draw meant an early retreat and he appeared to be baulked or to shy when he went to improve in the middle stages. The pace was on when he made his move and remembering it was only his second start this campaign, his lack of race seasoning was what found him out rather thanlack of ability.

Have a look at those times again, mostly set by Smolda. 3.13.4 for 2710m !  (faster than Christen Me's NZ record for 2700m) last mile 1.52.2 ! last 800m in 54.9 ! Over a staying distance, just sensational.

Mark said " Smolda .He's like red wine, improves with age! I told Neil Pilcher during the week he was was full of himself and he is not normally that sort of horse. I had never seen him that sort of animated.The Hunter Cup is next and I guess the Miracle Mile is on the radar too though he will have to go even faster over the mile there. Lazarus lacked the race seasoning on the night like Lennythshark where Smolda had had that extra buildup. I was pleased with him. He should be better in the Victoria Cup. Have Faith In Me  came through the race ok though he was still a bit high on cooling down. Another race before the Hunter Cup will do him good a race like the Pure Steel Free for All"





32-2016 Group Ones

NZ Cup-NZ FFA-Victorian Derby-New South Wales Derby-Victorian Oaks-NSW Oaks-NZ Derby-NZ Oaks-Northern Oaks-Young Guns -Nevele R Final-3yo Sires Stakes c and g-2yo Sires Stakes c and g- 2yo Sires Stakes f-Caduceus -Chariots of Fire-Miracle Mile-Ballarat Cup-Hunter Cup-Bohemian Crystal- 5 Harness Jewesl-3 Breeders Crowns-Redwood Classic- INTER DOMINION FINAL-  Queen of Hearts , Auckland Cup, Sires Stakes  Fillies Final                                                                                                          

Mares Bad Auckland Cup Record a Myth

You may not be selecting Dream About Me for the Auckland Cup on Saturday anyway but don't drop her on the claim mares do not have a good record in the race. It's wrong.

Certainly Flight South was the last mare to win (2000) but when assessing the success of the mare's performance in the race there are two other factors to consider. Opportunity, and placed performances.

 In the 60 years before Flight South, 10 mares had won the Cup and considering the numbers of them competing in the race that was a good strike rate.

Since 2000 here are the results for mares competing in the race.

2015 (1) Adore Me 2nd -(broke down at the home turn as well) Lancewood Lizzie unpl---2015 (2 Cups that year ) 0 starters -2014 Adore Me 2nd (Elusive Chick unplaced)-2013 Bettor Cover Lover 3rd-2012 0 starters-2011 De Lovely (unplaced) 2010 0 starters-2009 0 starters-2008 Foreal (unplaced)-2007 Foreal, Alta Serena (uplaced)-2006 Mainland Banner 2nd Alta Serena 4th-2005 Alta Serena 2nd (Imagine That unplaced) 2004 0 starters-2003 0 starters-2002  0 starters-2001 Kym's Girl 4th (Flight South unplaced)-2000 Flight South 1st (Under Cover Lover unpl)

17 starters- 1 win -4 second placings -1 3rd -2 4ths. First or second in five of the Cups this century.


IT WAS A GREAT THRILL TO WIN THE INTER DOMINION AS YOU WOULD GUESS but especially with Smolda because he is so brave. More of an old time champion than a horse like Lazarus though he could develop the same way.  Smolda just keeps coming up for the big races year after year and there was a time not that long ago when even I doubted whether he could come back or at least as good as he had been. But this year he has just been terrific.

To be honest I didn't really think he could win the race. My target was first three and that if he was in there he had done a great job. I was happy with his condition this past week but he was a wee bit tired after the third heat and he is not a young horse so you would expect it would take some toll. 

I didn't really know quite what to expect in the running and I always like to keep some options open anyway. What Hectorjayjay was going to do was going to dictate how the race was run. As it turned out he didn't do the early work and had every  chance to beat us but he couldn't get past.

However I did think at the top of the straight when he came with his sprint that he might be too strong. He got something on us actually but after about 40m his run came to an end while Smolda was still holding his own. It was a record time with some fast sectionals so you just can't take anything from him.

Up until then the night wasn't looking too good. I was not called in after Piccadilly Princess's race so it was not really anything to do with me. What happened I thought was that Chris (Alford) moved out and I moved out as well to follow him and there was pressure from the inside carrying him out. It ended our chances and then Mr Mojito had to go around them wide and it told ohn him. He will be headed home for a break.

The other horses will be heading to Victoria to a stable at Ballarat. We could be quite busy over the Tasman early in the year as usual so we need a good base to work from. What goes where between Melbourne and Sydney won't be finalised until after Auckland



Neil Pilcher has confirmed he has sold his third share in WAIKIKI BEACH to partner, Trevor Casey  largely because so much of the horse's career is likely to be based in Australia.

"I loved travelling over there once and didn't miss many big races but I am a bit over travelling back and forward to races now.  I am not getting any younger but Trevor is still keen on the travelling and he will get the enjoyment out of it. I have no regrets. The thing for me is that Australia seems where his future likes. We have had a good run and hopefully he will be winning a lot more races over time. But if I am not able to be there for the big ones it takes some of the magic away"

Neil has been cutting back on his ownership holdings in the past year or so, partly for health reasons which affect his ability to travel internationally on a regular basis.  He sold his share in Border Control while he was racing and from now on will be "concentrating on the Courage Under Fires". Over the years the stock of that stallion have given him a great return and a lot of thrills and Smolda is still doing that for him.  He has some more, hopefully as good, in the pipeline. He is also happier "doing his own thing" after several successful years in the Kennard Syndicates.

"Everything I have done I have enjoyed and I have never argued over a horse. All I do is that if there is what I consider a reasonable offer  but other members are reluctant to sell I offer my share to them at that level of value..  There has   there has never been any recriminations over that way of doing business. I will admit that I quite like to trade but that is not the main factor in this case."

Waikiki Beach, in which Cheryl Rasmussen also holds a share, has won a tick under $700,000 to date and while such a horse might seem difficult to value when selling to a friend,  Pilch says that was not the case.

"I didn't find it hard to come to an agreement to be honest. He's a gelding of course but has plenty of potential. No, we agreed on a price fairly quickly. We both had a clear understanding I guess of what was involved."

Pilch is still up at dawn and at Rolleston most mornings for track management and morning tea dutiesbut feels now like he would like to stay closer to home more often. As one of the most successful owners in New Zealand in recent years,  he has earnedthat right -and he will be cheering "Barney" on just as hard as ever when the big races come. When it the racing game, Pilch never has any regrets.


SPANISH ARMADA looked an aristocrat from her first appearance in public and she looked every inch of one winning the Caduceus Stakes -Group One- in sensational style last Friday breaking a 20 year old record and repeated the dose the hard way in front in the Sires Stakes Championship this week. 

When MEGEARA trained by Mark for the Breckon brothers, Ken and late Peter, won the 1996 Caduceus, she returned a stunning 2.42.7, a time record which has withstood all challenges in the race for 20 years. All Stars have trained five winners of the race before last night but none within cooee of Megaera's great performance in the hands of Tony Herlihy.

"I was a bit worried with a round to go all right" Natalie told Trackside's Greg O'Connor "To come from there and win so well just shows her real class"

It was Natalie's second win in three years in the race and the third on end for All Stars. It was also the THIRD QUINELLA in the race since 2011 and its first trifecta.

Spanish Armada has always looked the best All Stars juvenile filly but the second row draw looked the biggest danger to her last night. Natalie's remarkable strike rate in Group One races meant she stayed cool, took her chance to get off the fence and unleashed in the straight to outclass them. It was a tribute to the hot pace that they only ran home in 60 seconds for the 800m yet the winner was the only horse to break 2.43.

A special mention for owner JEAN FEISS who has been back and forth across the Tasman more often than an Air New Zealand pilot in recent weeks. MacKenzie, Chase the Dream, Benicio and Spanish Armada are not bad reasons and that is with star juvenile Vincent sidelined


***ANY DERBY WIN is a triumph for the connections but in the case of LAZARUS winning at Addington on Friday there was, for Mark Purdon, also a sense of relief. A sense of relief that he knew then he had made the right decision missing the Harness Jewels and heading to the spelling paddock to prepare Lazarus for the New Zealand Cup in November.

"It was a terrific win. He's done it tough and broken a New Zealand record. But I feel he just might have needed a break now anyway. So that makes me very happy with the decision to put him out now. I am confident he will be a strong Cup horse because he is such a terrific stayer."

Mark, easily the most underrated big race driver in New Zealand, didn't find the race went quite the way he hoped but produced another great tactical drive in a big race.

"I knew Ricky wouldn't want to be handing up and we were getting along. But I put it to him down the back when he might have been looking for a breather and a sprint home. You can do that with a horse you have a lot of confidence in as a stayer. So while there wasn';t a lot in it at the finish I felt once we got to the front the job was done and I was confident .I didn't want him to be chasing from a long way back."

Mark acknowledged that Lazarus is not a spectacular horse in the Auckland Reactor or Have Faith In Me mould but his rating of the youngster is almost surprisingly bullish.

"I have had a lot of Derby winners here and he would be up to any of them. He is such a great stayer "



***As MARK and NATALIE would be the first to tell you statistics mean nothing when the horses are out on the track and going for the next big win.  But they do mean something to others when you have a look at theNew Zealand Derby , Trotting Derby and Welcome Stakes coming up on Friday night. Here's a sample of past glories.

*MARK is aiming for his 11 th NZ Derby training win in 20 years of trying since The Court Owl won his first one  in 1996. So far its one every two years !

*The MARK AND NATALIE partnership has run second and first in the only two Derby's they have tried for (Isaiah was the close  runner-up in 2014)

*ALL STARS has quinellaed the Derby three times.  Last year with Follow The Stars; the Fly Like an Eagle and Smolda finish in 2012 and The Court Owl and Sharp And Telford in 1996

*HAVE FAITH IN ME (3.09.2) and AUCKLAND REACTOR (3.09.4)  are the two fastest Derby winners in history.

*ALL STARS is trying for its fourth successive win in the WELCOME STAKES . But even if it does so it won't be for the first time. Ohoka Arizona, Highview Tommy, Kotare Mach and Major Mark won all the races from 2007 to 2010 !. He has produced the winner in all on 10 occasions. The"bad" oil is that he has only driven four of those winners himself.

*IN 2015 ALL STARS produced the First Four in the Welcome Stakes an astonishing feat in a Group 2 race.  That also included the stable's FOURTH quinella in the race.

*MARK has trained and driven FIVE winners of the Trotting Derby all in the last 15 renewals.




In a surprise move, Mark and Natalie are pointing LAZARUS toward the New Zealand Cup in November, attempting to repeat the great achievement with IL VICOLO 20 years ago.

Syndicate leader Phil Kennard said the move, while meaning that Lazarus would miss the Harness Jewels, had appealed to the syndicate members and after discussions with Mark and Natalie it was decided to adopt the bold strategy.

"He is in open class anyway. There is nowhere to hide next spring. So we might as well aim at the big one,  We have thought about it and talked about it and it seems the right option and Mark and Natalie agreed" Phil said. He and Glenys race the young pacing star with Trevor Casey and Kevin Riseley of Melbourne.

Mark said after the Woodlands Derby that Lazarus was then ready for open class racing but a Cup campaign would mean a spell after the New Zealand Derby.

"Look you can't be too certain about the long term future with horses but the owners came to us with the idea and we have backed them" Mark said.

"I rate him up there with Il Vicolo and   he was able to win the Cup as a four year old"

It could result in one of the most powerful Cup assaults in modern times with HAVE FAITH IN ME and SMOLDA as old style "bracket mates" and maybe BORDER CONTROLas well !

Mark acknowledged the margin in the Vero was close but as nobody needs to be told there will be improvement for the big one next week. You would expect nothing else.

While nothing has been decided it could mean WAIKIKI BEACH  which is working up well at Rolleston may possibly come into the Jewels frame.

IL VICOLO     won both Derbys as LAZARUS aspires to do in his three year old season and added the NSW Derby later in April before being put aside. He resumed racing in September as a four year old, finishing fourth in the Superstars before winning two of a further three starts and then winning the Cup in an impressive 4.00.4 . It seems very likely his prep. will be a model for Mark and Natalie later this year.

Lazarus HAS NEVER BEEN BEATEN by a horse outside of the All Stars barn in a race. and only been beaten twice in 16 starts. He is unbeaten this season.



***SMOLDA has tied with LENNYTHESHARK as GRAND CIRCUITchampion for the 2016 season- and unlucky at that  Smolda was unbelievably left out of the Miracle Mile invitations and his G1 Bohemia Crystal win did not count toward the Grand Circuit. He had a 60 point lead going into Sunday but Lennytheshark's second placing in the Miracle Mile was enough for him to draw level. YOUNG RUFUS also dead-heated for the Grand Circuit title for Mark and BLACK'S A FAKE dead -heated also when trained and driven by Natalie. They are the only three dead-heats in the series since 1977.         



Even allowing for the bravery of Meg and Merv Butterworth's Golden Goddess, there would be few more popular wins at Alexandra Park on Friday night than that of Piccadilly Princess in the Pascoe Great Northern Oaksin a record setting classic. The Patterson family take a lot of the honours, popular people in the hospitality industry in Christchurch for more than 50 years. But the man behind the passion is  Michael Ward and the Ward family. Michael has  been a passionate harness racing man since -well the year "dot".

The Wards have been racing fans for more decades than driver Tim Williams has been around.  They have raced horses out of several top stables though most notably Jack Smolenski's who produced their biggest triumph, the Messenger Classic with OK Royal one of the most dramatic wins in "Smo's" long and honourable career.

Michael raced OK Royal in partnership with Jack in that  1989 Messenger triumph. Back behind were two Mark Purdon horses, Bogan Fella and a mare called Scuse Me. After Jack's retirement the Wards and Patterson moved to All Stars. Michael has been through several health issues which would cause many to lose interest in horse racing.

Not Michael Ward.

The Pattersons have joined him in the breeding of three foals from Hyde Park Royal, a half-sister to OK Royal. They have been Royal Mach a smart horse at All Stars;  The Royal Garden whose injuries as a youngster affected his career and Piccadilly Princess.  It hasn't all been plain sailing but from the day Natalie reported that she "really liked" Piccadilly Princess the luck was about to change.

There were still hurdles to climb. A late payment for the Nevele R series had to be made  and became fully justified. Piccadilly Princess has now beaten Golden Goddess twice and no other filly in NZ is considered capable of that.

Sometimes All Stars are quietly criticised for having the "big spenders" owners who can afford to just buy the best.

When a homebred like Piccadilly Princess can win the Pascoe Great Northern Oaks it shows the stable is just as successful for the enthusiast with attitude- as Michael Ward has always been.




***STAKES OVER $800,000



***DUANE, SHAUN AND MARY SHARE IN STABLE TRIUMPH-plus the workers at home !





Natalie produced a masterly stroke getting HFIM moving relatively smoothly out of the gate

and getting cover (first 400m a blistering 26.6)  up into the parked position where his class was always likely to make him

a winner. He accelerated at the top of the straight and won with something in hand making him one of the most stunning

pacers we have produced in a long time.

Mark, not a man given to exaggeration, suggested he was "up there" with the best he had handled. 

It means Have Faith in Me will be having a busier four year old career than Mark and Natalie had anticipated-but you can never account for ongoing class which this horse has in spades.



Faster mile rate over 3280m than ever recorded in the New Zealand Cup !

YES SMOLDA WAS A TOP HORSE .  An owner's dream, rarely out of the money, capable of producingoutstanding performances. But somehow the glamour seemed to have passed him by.

Talk to the fans of harness racing and they all knew Smolda was a top horse but .... where were the real big ones ?

He just missed in the NZ Cup,surely a certainty beaten. He just failed in the Auckland Cup when Mark thought he would run past them.  He had won the Len Smith Mile and the Ballarat Cup in the last year, top G1 races and had fought two huge battles with Australian star LENNYTHESHARK coming out 50/50. But maybe he was still looking for the definitive performance which would win over the doubters. And then there was the thing that the Hunter Cup was one Australian feature which had eluded All Stars


Well on Saturday night he did more than a definitive performance . And in spades !

Mark was in a quandary early when canny Anthony Butt the Hunter Cup guru, grabbed an early and easy lead with Ohoka Punter. Mark was parked, Smolda was keen, so was the driver,  and former All Star Messini, a brilliant sprinter, was getting the run of the race on his back.  So Mark used up valuable reserves attacking for the front and finally getting there.

The challengers didn't go away and Smolda was reluctant to come off the bridle. In his favour was old fashioned ability. And that famous Purdon/Rasmussen ground work.

"He has a high cruising speed this horse" Mark said after the race "and that pulled him through though hedidn't settle as well as I had hoped"

When it came to courage under fire however this son of Courage Under Fire had plenty. He fought them all off, never looking like being headed in reality, and smashed the race record in Australia's best known staying event. It will also be the last one from a standing start.

Smolda topped a million in stakes winning the Ballarat Cup (NZ money)  but the$500,000 stake was a real boost to that stat.

In the end it may not have been about the money. It was about Smolda being given his due.  The horses who can fight back from injury and almost obscurity at one point to be equal with the best in Australasia was not only a great training feat, not only another example of how underrated Mark Purdon is as a big match reinsman but redemption. From now on Smolda will indeed be a superstar.





2015-SMOLDA 2nd Mark 3.57.4 Messini 5th Natalie

2014- ADORE ME -MARK 1ST 3.54.6 WORLD RECORD-- Hands Christian -Natalie 9th-Arden Rooney Tim 12th

2013-FLY LIKE AN EAGLE -Mark   (3.57) 2ND

2012 HIGHVIEW TOMMY- Blair Orange- 2nd. SUSHI SUSHI -Natalie 3rd MAJOR MARK -Colin De Filippi 5th(Fly Like an Eagle (Mark) 7th Auckland Reactor -Maurice McKendry 15th.

2011- HIGHVIEW TOMMY -BLAIR ORANGE-3RD3.58.8 (Vit Et Animo and Natalie Rasmussen 10th)

2010-SLEEPY TRIPP -MARK PURDON -3RD  4.01.1 (Highview Tommy and Blair Orange 5th. Ohoka Dallas and Tony Herlihy 14th) )



2007-CLASSIC CULLEN-Mark-11th

2006-MIGHTY CULLEN -Blair Orange  4TH  IMAGINE THAT -Mark-10TH

2005-BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN (Trainer Grant Payne) Jim Curtin-9TH-LIKMESIAH -Blair Orange -12TH



2002-YOUNG RUFUS- Anthony Butt-6th.

2001-CIGAR -Ken Barron5TH-BOGAN FELLA-Mark -6TH










ISAIAH one of the best of the "good guys" among the All Stars team in the last couple of years may have run his last race.  Out of the blue he did a suspensory ligament this week and while another preparation would not be right out of the possibilities it looks that way pending confirmation from final tests. He won 13 of 38 for Kennard-led syndicate including John Grainger, the Lancaster partnership and John Magnus who bought into himas a yearling and close to $600,000 with 16 seconds and thirds.

His biggest wins stakes wise were in the PGG Wrightson Sales Finals which he won at both two and three, a rare feat. He beat Sky Major in the first and Locharburn in the second and put up an especially brave performance to run second to Locharburn in the NZ Derby after winning the Flying Stakes. He won the Sapling Stakes at his second start  but later transformed into an intermediate Cups horse winning the Akaroa, Ashburton and Northern Southland Cups last season as well as the Pelorus Classic, beating Tiger Tara before placing in the Chariots of Fire in Sydney.

"Becks" was preparing for the Junior FFA on Cup Day and major lead up events to that meeting. One of the first All Stars pacers to race without an overcheck he was a familiar figure always fighting on in the big races even when outgunned.



FOLLOW THE STARS winner of $800,000 and winner of 19 races trans Tasman will stand at Allwood Stud near Perth next season after a sale to the stud has been completed. Follow the Stars's sale was boosted by a remarkable Australian record of 13 wins from 18 starts and never further back than third.  His only unplaced run in New Zealand was when cruelly robbed of his chance to win the Harness Jewels at two at Cambridge at a time when Mark rated him as the best juvenile he had trained.  This year he has battled Have Faith In Me and Menin Gate, both remarkable young horses and never flinched. He tore a tendon during the running of the Breeders Crown recently the two year old edition of which he won last year. As a virtual American-bred the son of Art Major should make his mark at stud.  He was raced by the most successful syndicate in All Stars recent history, Phil and Glenys Kennard, Neil Pilcher, Phil and Margaret Creighton and Gavin Douglas.

Allwood Stud is operated by Bob and Marilyn Fowler in the Swan valley and has a lengthy history of success as a stud over many years in Western Australia.


*FIGHT FOR GLORY wins fourth Oaks event for season (but couldn't get a vote for Filly of the Year!)

*ALL STARS "quaddie" in BC heats at Menangle

*G1 TREBLE for All Stars at Meangle in Breeder's Challenge Finals

*ALL STARS wins $422,000 on Jewels Day from FIVE G1 WINS bothnew records.

*HAVE FAITH IN ME ends one of the most illustrious three year old careers in our pacing history with well earned spell.

*TIM and NATALIE both pass $1m in stake winnings for the season in May.

*All Stars tops $3m in NZ earnings in April a new record in that field

*SMOLDA wins Len Smith Mile (April 26) 1.50.7 then adds string of wins for the McCarthy stable in Sydney.

*WAIKIKI BEACHunbeaten ong1 APG campaign (April 26) then qualifies for Breeders Challenge finals.

*FIGHT FOR GLORY Fight For Glory, Classical Art, Linda Lovegrace, Supersonic Miss First four at Addington (April 24). Fight for Glory becomes stable's second winner of NZ Oaks.


*NATHAN and MICHAEL PURDON head to Queensland/Sydney respectively for further experience.

* $255,000 HAUL from Addington's last PREMIER meeting of the season taking total at Premiers to over $2.5m

*WAIKIKI BEACH , Motu Premier, Chase The Dream and MacKenzie post a First Four in a Group Race in Welcome Stakes (March 27)

*All Stars tops 100 winners for 6th season in a row (March 27) and top $3m in stakes won on both sides of the Tasman

*ALL STARS first stable in our history to top $4m in earnings (Australia and New Zealand) in May



NATALIE thought LINDA LOVEGRACE might be the hardest to beatin the Queensland Oaks on Saturday night and she did not get that quite right. But the drive on FIGHT FOR GLORY (pictured)  -that was something she got right big timegiving All Stars its 24th Group One win for the season

The fillyhas now won the New South Wales and Queensland Oaks (both G1) and the Gold Coast Oaks (G3) as well as the New Zealand Oaks (G1) in May. It is quite an astonishing performance adding to the huge thrills for breeder Diane Cournane, John and Gay Tait. Anne Gibbs , Lyn Tucker and Dean Illingworth. In spite of the filly's dam Breath Of LIfe being a top performer for All Stars not many wanted to know when Fight for Glory was a yearling going for $20,000

She is now bound to be named Australian Three Year Old Filly of the Year.

As expected Fight for Glory followed Linda Lovegrace out of the gate but the former did not show the electric early speed which had been expected leaving Fight for Glory buried on the running line midfield. But Linda was left parked eventually and even though outside runners blocked the NZ Oaks winner for a time, Linda Lovegrace going for home early left a vital gap which Natalie took advantage of.

Natalie therefore repeats her raid from New Zealand in 2012 with O BABYwho also won the Queensland Oaks. Natalie has now driven 32 Group One winners.

Fight for Glory is likely to spell in Queensland before returning to NewZealand .She is not in the Breeder's Crown and this was her big match. She won it well.

The previous year Natalie's sister, KYLIE,  had trained and driven FOREVER GOLD to win the Oaks.  Last night Natalie drove Forever Gold for Darren Weeks, Kylie's partner, to win the Ladyship Stakes (G3)  for the third time.  The All Stars team is based at the Weeks establishment.

On both earlier occasions Kylie had been in the cart but back problems have robbed her of her driving career in recent times.  Natalie was an able replacement but there must have been mixed feelings for the family with the impressive win.

Natalie is likely to retain the drive in the Blacks a Fake next week but that has yet to be confirmed.

To add icing to the cake she also won the Ladies Invitation race to give her a treble for the night.

Of our other runners, GENTLE WESTERN had a nightmare trip three wide and not able to get up to the parked position from where he would have been more dangerous. HUG THE WIND got a reasonable possy with cover on the outer but when Burnaholeinmypocket got a bad stitch 500m out the Kiwi was meat in the sandwich for a time. He might never have caught Menin Gate but he would surely have ground his way into a closer spot.


You don't just have to be good, very very good, to win G1 races in Australia. You also need a lotof luck.

What brave runs from Hug The Wind, Smolda and Follow the Stars to be G1 placed in big features on Saturday !

Hug The Wind drew the "suicide gate" of 7 and before the race Natalie told Sky it would be hard to beat Burnaholeinmypocket from the draw.  The stylish Kiwi had to work forward wide to be parked without ever having a chance to reach the front with his best rival having the inside draw. While the Aussie won well Hug The Wind lost little caste. He ran the trip in 1.55.6 (mr 1.52.1 last 400m in 27.1 but refused to give in and held second strongly,

Smolda   was caught three wide on a hot pace with fave Avonova using the inside draw to assume command. There was not alternative for Natalie but to be parked and the pace was a scorcher . The mile rate was 1.51.3 which is about as fast as Smolda has gone over this sort of trip but he fought on strongly and held a clear second.

Follow The Stars  was mid on the outer early but Anthony Butt moved him up to Menin Gate with a round to go. Menin Gate, who beat him in the Derby earlier this season had too much in his favour and "Drew" lost second late after a brave performance.  He still has the record of never having been further back than third in 14 Australian starts.


Kept Under Wraps

"Did a great job on the day and we got away with a little bit when we needed it. I have recommended to the owners a good long spell, maybe seven or eight weeks and after that his longer term future will be decided.  The break now will suit him because I don't think he is a strong contender for the Breeder's Crown. He could possibly remain in Australia"


"She will have a good break now. She is not entered in the Breeder's Crown so she has done the right job for the owners here. I will have a talk to the owners before anything else long term is decided. It is possible she would be better off racing here too but that will be up to the owners"

Golden Goddess

"She will spell here for around seven weeks and then return home. It is good for them to have a break in the warmer weather over here at this time of the year and I am sure she will benefit from a break given her size and scope"

Waikiki Beach

"He will only have a couple of days off with the Breeder's Crown on his bucket list. I might give him a race on July 17 here just to keep him ticking over he has done so well. "

(Breeders Crown heats in Sydney and Melbourne start on August 1)


"***THE SYDNEY campaign continue on a positive note and the horses are doing so well there Mark is expecting to extend the horse's stay before heading to Melbournefor the Breeder's Crown.

"It'swarmer here and the horses are thriving so it makes sense to keep things going like that" Mark said.

"The draws for most of the horses on Sunday is good and everything I looking good at this stage"

However luck this week in Melbourne is not quite as good. FOLLOW THE STARS has drawn one on the second line and Chris Alford who has been driving him can't do so.

"I asked the club to split his drives but they refused saying they now only do that for trainers not drivers. I am sure Anthony Butt is available and he will be a good substitute but it means Chris misses outon an opportunity. They have put most of the form horses in the same heat which doesn't help us from the draw"

Mark is pleased with how Follow the Stars is handling the travelling to and fro Melbourne. He will be home again after Friday's race.

"He has usually been a good traveller but he had a long trip last week and seemed to recover well. He is thriving over here too"

DREAM ABOUT ME and HIGH GAIT have arrived for the Breeder's Crown series but Mark is in no hurry with them.

"We haven't got them nominated for anything and it is early days yet. They will tell us when they are ready to go'



Anthony Butt at his best and FOLLOW THE STARS at the top of his game was the story of the VicBred semi-final at Melton on Friday. The Art Major colt -winner now of 12 of 14 starts in Australia, looked in trouble early when Meningate could not hold the front and he was threatened with the three back possy. But Anthony eased him out to the parked position and NSW Derby winner, Ideal For Real rushed up to sit parked giving the Kiwi a perfect trail. With a final quarter in 27.2 it was not trouble for "Drew" who wore down a game Ideal for Real in a 1.56.2 mile rate. Follow the Stars, whose only defeats in Oz have been seconds in the heat and final of the Victoria Derby,  will return to Sydney before returning for the rich final in two weeks time. Mark's unusual confidence should have given a good return to "FOLLOWERS" OF THE STARS and Phil and Glenys Kennard, Neil Pilcher, Phil and Margaret Creighton-who were on course for the big night-and Gavin Douglas the owners who have had such a great syndicate run in recent years..



***DON'T BELIEVE all you see in the Brisbane fields this week-HUG THE WIND and FIGHT FOR GLORYare not going around in the Breeders Crown heats and only LINDA LOVEGRACE will start this week. Natalie might also have to pull the pin on the Country Cup series she had her eye on for GENTLE WESTERN as he battles back to his best.

"I put the others in the Breeders Crown assuming they were nominated and Queensland harness put them in but it turns out they are not paid up for the Breeders Crown series" Natalie said. "Queensland Harness have apologised for not being aware of it but as it turned out I wasn't either having taken it for granted they would be paid up as nearly all our horses are. "

The problem for Hug The Wind is that he faces a big test next Saturday (July 4) in theG1 Nursery Stakes of $A100,000 so missing a race this week is bad news.

"He will trial on Friday to give him a hitout for next week now" Natalie said. She put his gallop when winning at Redcliffe as partly her fault.

"He is a bit funny sometimes going past horses. He gets up to them and gets a narrow lead and then he doesn't want to go on. I gave him a bit of a prod and he didn't like that ! But he is thriving and that is why he needs another hitout before next week"

SMOLDA also has his first big run in Queensland on July 4 in the$A100,000 Sunshine Sprint but he is well race seasoned.

FIGHT FOR GLORY has the $a100,000 Queensland Oaks on July 11 as her next major target so missing a race is not a problem at this stage. She has come thru her Gold Coast Oaks win in fine order and not being in the Breeder's Crown is a matter of regret after that performance. LINDA LOVEGRACE continues to thrive.

GENTLE WESTERN has given Natalie a few worries though and he is more likely than not to miss the Country Cup series the heats of which are next Friday.

"He was just a bit off leading into the Premier's Cup which is one reason I copped a fine for going to slow in front with him. I wanted to be as easy on him as I could. And he wasn't really right for the final either but was just too good for them. He is coming right but I don't want to go into a series like that unless he is 100 per cent. At this stage the best target for him looks the FOUR YEAR OLD CHAMPIONSHIP (July 18) which he was always going to be looking at. That is on QUEENSLAND DERBY night a major aim for Hug The Wind.



ALL STARSwill have close to 15  horses based in Australia for much of June, July and August,  eight of them headed for the Queensland Winter Carnivalmanaged by Natalie and the balance in Sydney under the direction of Mark.

While final lists have to be confirmed SMOLDA, BORDER CONTROL, HUG THE WIND, HAVE FAITH IN ME, FIGHT FOR GLORY LINDA LOVEGRACE, and GENTLE WESTERNis the Queensland lineup at this stage.

"Not a bad team to have" Natalie noted with Sean pencilled in to be first assistant on the campaign.

"We are taking more than one age group horse in each category because there are enough good races to cater for all of them. "

CASH N FLOW, DREAM ABOUT ME,  andHIGH GAIT willbe bound for the Breeders Crown some heats of which will be held in Queensland over the winter,but also in Sydney later.

The horses leave in early June and will be away until early in August when the Redcliffe Cup is run.

"It's a combination of factors increasing our racing in Australia but in this case the stakes are just too attractive to pass on" said Natalie.

Features include the$A150,000 Queensland Derby and the $100,000 Queensland Oaks. There is the Premier Cup series with a $50,000 final and a new race the Seymour Nursery Fly worth$100,000 for two and three year olds. A four and five year old championship with $50,000 would especially suit Border Control and The Blacks a Fake is $125,000 this year and the Redcliffe Cup $50,000. Another open class race the Sunshine Sprint is worth $100,000.

Soon after joining Mark at Rolleston Natalie campaigned BEST DEAL YET and O BABY in Queensland with outstanding results. Best Deal Yet won the Gold Coast and Queensland Derbys and O Baby the Queensland Oaks.

MARK will be based in Sydney (at Belinda McCarthy's stables) with FOLLOW THE STARS, KEPT UNDER WRAPS, GOLDEN GODDESS, WAIKIKI BEACH and SUPERSONIC MISS.

"Follow the Stars is in the Vicbred Series and the others are headed for the Breeder's Challenge and hopefully the Breeders Crown all going well " Mark said. 

He will be away until September with the Breeder's Crown finals on August 30 this year. Mary will accompany the Sydney team.

"We couldn't do it without the good staff we have. Duane now acts as our foreman and does a great job and Tim and Matt are both sensible guys and ideal handling the young horses coming through. Our support staff is also terrific, probably the best we have ever had. You just couldn't do something like this without that help. Even so we might need an extra staff member to help us through at home



**THE NZ DERBY has been won TENtimes in TWENTYyears by Mark Purdon racing stables EIGHTof which he has driven. A 50 per cent strike rate in such a prestigious race is, well, unheard of.

**THE WELCOME STAKES has been won TEN TIMES by All Stars horses including four of thelast six runnings

**THE FLYING STAKES seems to be becoming the ALL STARS stakes. We have won the feature NINE times in the past 20 years and SIX of the last eight runnings. Only Ohoka Punter and Terror To Love have defeated us in that period.


They say a week is a long time in racing but then so is two months, six months, even two years by the count of Dennis Dunford, co -owner with his son, Mark, of the sensational Have Faith In Me which earned Horse of the Year honours among the three year olds with his great Muscara Family New Zealand Derby on Friday.

About two years ago Dennis flew to Christchurch at Mark Purdon's suggestion to have a look at the tendon of Hands Christian who was then on the comeback trail.

"Nearby was the youngster Mark had bought for us for $50,000. He hadn't been perfect as a yearling but worth the risk. Mark was concerned with a bump on his leg. But he told me he was sure it would be all right. He went south for a few months and when he came back there were no problems just as Mark said. That was Have Faith In Me'' Dennis recalled.

Fast forward tothis year's yearling sale when Have Faith In Me's brother fell to the last bid the Dunford's were prepared to make at $200,000. Even with the sensational success of the Scuse Me family it seemed a huge gamble.

On Derby night, as Have Faith In Me won his third Group One and kept Tim Williams on the trail of a dream season debut with All Stars, and Have Faith In Me now having won nearly $500,000 all of a sudden it doesn't seem much of a gamble at all.

The yearling, currently being broken in by Mark Smolenski, is called Praise Be and that suits the Dunfordsjust fine.  Considering the success of horses with the names of Alleluia, Hands Christian, Abide With Me etc. that is hardly a surprise.

Mark dictated with FOLLOW THE STARSin the Derby but Tim, as cool as a cucumber, hooked out to sit parked with 1000m to run.

"It wasn't so much that he felt so good. I just wanted to be up near the action because I knew it would be a hell of a sprint home" Tim said.

When the acid was applied maybe even Tim was surprised how easily Have Faith In Me pulled away to win his second Derby.

Another opinion was worth hearing. Nathan Purdon who has just painfully farewelled his super heroine Adore Me, Have Faith In Me's sister, was in no doubt about where he rates the stable's latest star.

"He's a freak this horse. He just steps up and does it and keeps getting better"


The career of perhaps the best mare to have raced in New Zealand and certainly the best trained by All Stars was brought to an abrupt conclusion when all had hoped it was a story with more chapters to be written. The reality is, once the disappointment abates, is that Adore Me was around long enough to establish an unforgettable record which nobody who saw here will ever forget. Right from the first day she stepped on the track to win a three year old maiden at Addington in October 2012 "Ruby" was regarded as something special. That was especially the case with co-trainer, Mark Purdon, who less than six months later in a move he would not have made with any other filly he had trained, he threw her into the Woodlands Northern Derby where she put up an enormous performance behind Ohoka Punter which was at that stage being hailed as a budding champion.

Ruby cleaned up all the three year old filly features including the first of two Harness Jewels but Mark continued to set his sights high. She beat the all comers in the Ricoh Free for All at the Cup meeting at four and then the four major mare features-Northern Breeders, Queen of Hearts, Mares Premiership and Standardbred Breeders Stakes two of them Group One.

Then came theLadyship Stakes in Sydney where she faced her first defeat against her own sex and then a brave Auckland Cup run before winning the Easter Cup. She broke four minutes in that race and the New Zealand Cup was the obvious next target.

Some doubted that she would be a force in a field of that calibre but Mark and Natalie knew the motor hidden away in that impressive chest. Adore Me smashed all records winning that Cup coming wide from the 600m and it was just a sensational performance.

Missed in the excitement of that week was her huge effort in the Free For All. Ruby drew badly and had to come from a long way back in a 54.1 800m off the front to grab second behind Christen Me. From there it was the mare features at Auckland again, a 1.51.6 mile at Cambridge and then the memorable two runs in Sydney culminating in the 1.47.7 mile of the decade.

But if the crowds and the stable got excited over these extraordinary feats, Ruby herself hardly turned a hair. Beside her great heart she had one of the most beautiful gaits of any modern star. She was running fast when she looked to be running easy. Her long stride and easy action made it hard to tell whether she was travelling with a lot in reserve or was pushing the oxygen barrier. Even those who knew her best could never be quite sure.

Adore Me will miss the glamour in the next three months as she is confined to a box at Paul and Mary Kenny's property.

But she won't miss us as much as we will miss her. Racemares of this calibre are seen less than once in a generation.

MARK finally said it on Sunday (March 1)  ADORE ME is the best he has trained.  Its something he has known since at least Cup Day last November and probably well before that but our Mark is a conservative guy. Until now in public he hasrated Auckland Reactor number one but in spite of all his brilliance and for a variety of reasons the Reactor never quite reached the heights Mark believed he could. But Adore Me has been on the radar as a replacement for a long time now. So have the clues about that sensational mile time she posted on Sunday.

The first clue-and a major one- was Ruby's first mile race at Ashburton in a Nevele R Fillies heat in February 2013 when she had had only a handful of starts. She ran 1:52.6, a filly record. But it what was Mark said afterward which was significant "1: 52? She was going so easily I thought we were going around1.55 pace"

Later that year Ruby won the Jewels in 1:54.1 -very easily-which still remains her slowest ever mile ! Her mile races since:

1:52.4 -in last year's Ladyship Mile (second)



1:53.1-in last season's Jewels win a very easy affair at Cambridge

1:51.6-Cambridge Flying Mile in January

1:51.0-her Ladyship Mile leadup last week in another supremely easy win

1:47.7 -Ladyship Mile


Natalie Rasmussen posted her 28th Group One winner with Chase The Dream in   the Young Guns on March 6 but  in some ways it was her most fortunate.

Nat nearly didn't make the track in time after her mid-afternoon flight from Christchurch was cancelled.

"I couldn't believe it. I got straight on the internet there and then to find another flight-any flight. The best I had been offered was not going to get me here in time for the race. Fortunately I found one and got on it. I was panicking for a while there I can tell you"

Natalie made an early move and gave owner Jean Feiss a special thrill. Long time racing lady Jean flew in from Melbourne yesterday to watch the race and flew out again first thing Saturday.Chase the Dream is now headed for the Welcome Stakes.

Meanwhile Tim  careered away with the Delightful Lady Classic giving the Roberts family another triumph.

"No worries when we got to the front but she is not really a leader yet. She's a bit grey as you would expect."


Her 1:47.7 Ladyship Mile is the fastest mile by any mare in history and the second best by a female. The fastest mile in the United States, recorded in a mile track,  and the world record is 1:47 recorded by a three year old filly Shebestingin, who, like Adore Me is by Bettor's Delight.

This is the first time in history the all comers Australasian Mile record has been held by a filly or mare. Adore Me broke Smoken Up's record by close to one second and after being caught wide, getting into a horse race with Aussie record holder Frith -whose driver probably regretted that decision-she forged clear at the turn and won easily,

Mark has always treated Adore Me as a very special talent. He took on the males in Derby's and Easter Cups at three and fou r and beat them in the New Zealand Cup in November. As result she holds a world record for one mile and a world record for 3200m the old two mile distance. !  That would be another first !  Mark and Natalie are keen to press on toward the Auckland Cup where another record beckons. 

Her win was a tribute to another brilliant drive by Natalie who   was in sublime form all day.

FOLLOW THE STARS S and ADORE ME couldn;t do what we hoped at Melton on Saturday (fEBRUARY ) but there was an echo of success in that the All Stars-made ARDEN ROONEY took out the $400,000 Hunter Cup the first Australian-trained horse to win the race in six years.

Arden Rooney was always the stout stayer at All Stars and he won the Kaikoura Cup so well Natalie  seriously considered passing up on her favourite Hands Christian to drive him in the New Zealand Cup where he went a good race. Last night he got the dream trip for Kerryn Manning and really won it well in the end. He paid over $80 and even Manning didn't feel he could win though there was speculation before the race he was likely to trail.

It was a great triumph for Merv and Meg Butterworth. They and Mark and Natalie agreed he was better placed in Australia instead of running against the best here. Now he has beaten them in a big one !. Racing is a funny game.

Merv deserves his success. He paid very good money for Arden Rooney when he was not a glamour horse and his faith has been fully repaid.

Adore Me lost it at the start as she has occasionally done here though Mark was confident pre-race she was sweet in that direction. Well, not quite. Bring on the Ladies Mile

Follow the Stars was really beaten by the draw. Menin Gate, a Somebeachsomewhere who cost $44,000 at the same sale Follow The Stars cost $20,000 was a deserving winner but he had the draw, got to the front, left Follow The Stars parked and that was the end of the penny section. He was brave and didn't flinch but the winner is a smart horse too good on the night.

STATS february

*MARK PURDON can count two Victoria Derby's to his credit already  SHARP AND TELFORD and RARE GEM being to his credit already. But the "family" have an edge on him and his last win was 14 years ago. Mark Purdon doesn't like 14 year gaps between major G1 races.

Brother BARRY and brother in law TONY HERLIHY can match that for starters. Barry won it last year with MAXIM (All Star owner Trevor Casey among those owners) and Tony trained and drove OHOKA PUNTER  the previous year when it was run in the spring. The mighty Herlihy had trained and driven  BELLAS BOY  to win in 2003  and he had driven Rare Gem for Mark two years earlier.

Barry Purdon-and it is hard to find something in harness racing Barry Purdon hasn't done already- - trained and drove HOLMES D G to win in 1997

New Zealand horses have done well in the Derby in recent years though Australian horses of quality like SUSHI SUSHI  and DIVISIVE  have proven hard to beat. There do not appear to be many in this year's field in that category. And the Aussies can always claim FOLLOW THE STARS as their own ! We would if it was ours.

But then the Purdon family hasn't done badly either !


*THE HUNTER CUP just about belongs to New Zealand. We first won it in 1967 (Waitaki Hanover) and had to wait 26 years to win it again when Master Musician won for Robert Dunn. Since then there have been a flood of New Zealand winners, Blossom Lady won two, Surpise Package, Vic's Vance, Yulestar  and Mister D G followed and the cam Elsue (2005) Mr Feelgood (2009) Bondy (2010) Stunin Cullen Choise Achiever and Mah Sish the last three all trained by Tim Butt and driven by Anthony. Last year Christen Me was the winner the SIXTH on end for the Kiwis.

Why the domination ? Well our horses are good of course. But also in recent times Australian trainers are less enthusiastic about standing starts and have tended to look more toward the Inter Dominions where they have had much more success.

Expect another Kiwi win this Saturday-and don't be surprised if it is the first mare since Blossom Lady to do it.


*ALL STARS has won over $1m of its $1.5m stake tally to December 31 at two carnivals -$677,00 during Cup week at Addington and over $400,000 at the four day Auckland carnival which concluded on Wednesday.

To put the Auckland achievement in perspective fewer than 10 other stables won over $400,000 for the WHOLE of last season

*HAVE FAITH IN ME record setter that he is, is the 4th winner for Mark Purdon in the PGG Wrightson Sales Pace for 3yo. Il Vicolo was the first and then Jack Cade (2001)  before Isaiah's win last year.

Mark on his own or in partnership has won SEVEN  2yo male Sales Open Finals and  two Filly Finals  and two Northern Hemisphere time Finals - 15 in all.

*SIX WINS at Auckland on Friday didn't quite equal our feat of training seven winners on one programme but in its own way it was every bit as impressive.

That is because it was only a 10 race programme (versus 12 races on Cup Day)  and All Stars actually failed to win just one race in which it had a starter! That would be a very rare achievement. And we were third in that other race.

*All Stars best ever weekend of winners is a total of 10 but that included Australian racing. Winning nine in a weekend just in New Zealand equals the record set the same weekend two years ago.

*10 wins on Cup and Show Day is not only a record but has never been approached. Mark's six driving wins is also one of the most outstanding records in Cup week history



ADORE ME -3200m (NZ Cup) stand 3.54.6 (outright) : 2600m m (f and m) 3:08.7:  2200m (f and m) 2:38.3

AUCKLAND REACTOR - 2000 M 2:21.8 (outright)  1950 m 4yo + 2:17.8

BORDER CONTROL - Mile  1.50.6  (Race) outright and three year old record.  (2) 2:41.2 (2200m 2yo)

FLY LIKE AN EAGLE -1700m -m 2yo -2:02.5

HAVE FAITH IN ME 1950 M -3yo  -2:17.3. (2) 2200m  m 2:37.6

ISAIAH  1950m 2yo 2:20.8

LANCOME 2700m (f and m) stand 3:20.9

MESSINI 2600m m outright 3:07.8

SOMEARDENSOMEWHERE  2400m 2yo m 2:56.3

SUPERSONIC MISS  1 mile 2yo 1:54.1



CYCLONE U BOLT  1 Mile -4+males  1:54.5

ESCAPEE  2700m 3yo (f and m) 3.26.5   (2) 2200m st 2yo 2:56.9

HOT PANTS  1950m-m (f and m) 2:25

I CAN DOOSIT - 2200m male 2:43.1  (2) 2700m st male 3:23.6  (3) 2000m  m male 2:25

JO ANNE   1 mile  2yo

KING DENNY -2600m 3yo m 3:17.2

PARAMOUNT QUEEN -2200m 2yo (m) 2:44.8   (2) 2600m ( 2yo) (f) 3:35.1

POCARO 1 mile 3yo m  (f) 1:57.5

PRIDE OF PETITE  2200m  st (f and m) 2:47.9  (2) 2700m st (f and m) 3:24.7

PRINCE FEARLESS 2600m 3yo st (male) 3:19.3

WANNA PLAY 1950m 2yo 2:24.2




Mark Purdon has driven a winner on Cup Day every year since 2006. He drove four this year !

*Natalie has won eight races at Addington at Addington this season

*Mary Kenny may be the daughter of Charlie Roberts but she and husband Paul, chairman of the Auckland Racing Club, have not raced that many pacers. "We raced Abide With Me out of the mare but not many more have we raced"


Gallant Hands Christian who survived one of the more unusual New Zealand Cup preparations only to falter during the big race, has been officially  retired and Mark and Natalie are confident he will find a good home.

Hands Christian had 13 wins from just 34 starts winning over $330,000 the best being the Easter Cup for owners Mark and Dennis Dunford for whom Mark selected him as a yearling. He missed both his five year old and six year old seasons because of two separate tendon injuries but battled back this year running a close second to Adore Me at only his second start in two and a half years.

A winner first up at two, Hands Christian had the first of his "near misses" when beaten half a head by Gold Ace in the Sires Stakes Final in 2010. Four November's later both were racing on Tuesday but Hands Christian had spent a lot of his time in boxes and paddocks in the interim. He was a close up third in the $250,000 Sales Pace, broke and retired from the Northern Derby, won a Derby heat in Australia and then had another heartbreak second to Gold Ace, beaten a nose,  in the Harness Jewels running 1.54.4. Third in that race was Terror To Love three years before the pair met in the Cup. After a win in the Geraldine Cup following a disappointing NZ Cup meeting, Hands Christian beat Easy On The Eye and Gold Ace in the Waikato Futurity and beat boomers Franco Emirate and Mah Sish in the Free For All leading into the Easter Cup and beat Terror To Love and Gold Ace in the Easter Cup and then went to Australia and beat the Northern Derby winner Sushi Sushi in the Paleface Adios. Not long after that he went amiss in the Messenger and it was a long road back as we know. But his second placing in the Flying Stakes in his first start in 27 months was a reminder of his class.

For her part Natalie was already a big fan and even after the disappointment of Tuesday she was full of admiration.

"I think something happened fairly early on because he just didn't have the dash he had at Ashburton. But he never turned it in. He tried his heart out. He is a very gallant horse and I was pleased to be able to drive him in the Cup. It was a big ask but he had done his part to make it happen"

It was also a massive training achievement just to get the brother ot Christen Me to the post. He never saw a beach or a swimming pool yet survived a searching preparation skilfully managed.

Mark thinks Hands will have no trouble finding a good home.

"He would be ideally suited to something like a trail horse. It wouldn't put the pressure on his leg a racing prep does and he handle it fine. He is a lovely horse with a great temperament too so he enjoy that"

Farewell Hands Christian -never a lucky horse, never a star but big on ability with a heart to match,

Loyal Owners- a look back to the last time we had 7 Premier wins in a day.

Tuesday was not the first time All Stars have had 7 wins. On New Year's Eve 2010 Mark and Grant Payne produced seven winners at Alexandra Park. There were interesting coincidences.

*Abide With Me-a half sister to Adore Me was a runner that day-the only horse before Adore Me Mary Kenny raced with her father Charlie Roberts.

*Many of our present owners were winners on the day. Phil and Glenys Kennard co-owned Major Mark and Highview Tommy. Neil Pilcher raced Major Mark and Russley Rascal. That group  are also  shareholders in Prince Fearless. Trevor Casey co-owner of Messini  was the owner of Pocaro. Braeden and Caroline Whitelock won the Sales Final with Meredith Maguire and have Classical Art in hot form for All Stars at the moment. Ken and Karen Breckon, who owned I Can Doosit  on the big day at Auckland (he was unplaced) are also owners of Prince Fearless. The bad news ? Take out the NZ Cup and the stakes at Addington on Tuesday couldn't match Auckland in 2010.

*Our New Zealand Cup Record.

Since Mark started training in 1995 his stable has had 19 individual starters in the New Zealand Cup (28 total starts). In 20 of those starts All Stars horses have finished in the first six 12 in the first four. Our winners and placegetters:

Adore Me 1st 2014

Il Vicolo 1st 1995 (4.00.4) -also 1st 1996

Bogan Fella 2nd 2000 (4.00.5), (and  3rd 1999)

Highview Tommy 2nd 2012 (3.58.8)  (and 3rd 2011, 5th 2010)

Fly LIke An Eagle 2nd 2013 (given same time as winner of  3.57)

Sushi Sushi 3rd 2012 (3.58.9)

Jack Cade 3rd 2003 (head and neck winner)

Sleepy Trip 3rd 2010 (4.01.1)

Brabham 4th 1995 (4.00.6)

Mighty Cullen 4th 2006 (4.01.4)



A brave and what looked like a successful bid to get Armbro Demon to the New Zealand Cup meeting and beyond came to an end midweek when the mare developed suspensory problems.

"She suddenly developed a problem which I thought might be a suspensory and she also had a smaller problem in the other leg. (Vet) Bill Bishop confirmed that is what it was and it means she has been retired. We found out she had had a suspensory problem before having a long spell and unfortunately it has returned''

Armbro Demon caused something of a sensation winning at the Cup meeting three years ago in only her third win up from a spell for owner-trainer Chris McLeod. She trotted the 3200m in a sensational 4.05.8 winning easily. She has only had two starts in nearly three years since having suffered an injury in 2012 and her career stands at five wins from only 10 starts. Chris, who had put so much time into the Armbro Invasion mare, agreed to lease her out for one more try for a race career and it wasn't a well kept secret around the All Stars stable that her ability  had made a deep impression at Rolleston. Armbro Demon had a few tricks to play on the unwary but she had gradually adapted well to a big stable atmosphere. Word of her ability must have leaked out because there were substantial bets placed on her in the Dominion Handicap especially in all up betting.



LAST MILE 1.56 -800M IN 55.7 -MR 1.56.7 KEPT UNDER WRAPS QUINELLA $1.60





Last week FOLLOW THE STARS and LINDA LOVEGRACE left for Australia together flying to Sydney and heading down to Melbourne.

If you think about that for a moment it is unusual.

Follow the Stars is a colt and Linda a filly and in many cases trainer would be very careful about having them so close. Even at the All Stars barn males and females are based in separate areas. Just to be on the safe side.

Mark says he would also be wary of too close an association-except where Follow The Stars is concerned.

"He is unique in my experience that way'' Mark said. "He is just so laid back and relaxed it is not a worry for us. It helps a lot with the travelling" 

Mark and Natalie had some good news from Australia at the weekend after Duane reported both youngsters had hoppled in fine fashion. A few weeks ago Mark was a worried man. 

That was after a workout at Chertsey recently when Linda Lovegrace proved his master. Mark didn't say much but he admits he was a little disappointed with the colt's performance.

"I had a few concerns. I had expected better. But he was on the way up and as long as there was nothing wrong it was only a hiccup. But he has really come away since then. He was terrific at the Ashburton trials before he went over and so he is well placed from now on"

The stable's major worry now is getting a race for Follow The Stars in particular before the semi-finals a week later. 

"A two year old race may not get off the ground with him among the noms and a maiden race is the option but even that might be dicey'' Mark said. "We are very keen to get a race into him because the semi's will be tough races"



One time boom trotting mare ARMBRO DEMON is now at All Stars and on the comeback trail having not raced since October 2012. A comeback is possible but nobody around All Stars thinks it will be easy.

"She's certainly different'' as Natalie puts it. "It is hard to say at this stage if she can make it back and show her best but we are trying. And, sometimes, she can be trying too"  UPDATE: Going along well

 Her previous trainer, owner Chris McLeod needed the patience of Job to get her to the races at all. Half way through a workout was often far enough for Armbro Demon or else she would suddenly take off at an acute angle and abandon the track.What kept everyone going and is the reason she is at All Stars, is her ability.

She has won almost as many races as she has lost and wowed them at the 2011 New Zealand Cup meeting when she won easily in 4.05.4 for the 3200m beating Thanesan. Seh has won five races from just ten starts and at times she haslooked as if she could be anything. Trouble is just that. She can be anything. In the end she was stood down from racing and she has been a long time in the attempt to get her back. Until now the only driver McLeod would trust with the erratic mare was Matthew Williamson. 

McLeod himself had her back at the trials last November after a bout of lameness had sidelined her since her last race at Methven just short of two years ago. 

But her sheer ability means she has got another chance in the best stable in the land. Not that Mark and Natalie are making any claims at all that that will make a difference.

"It's a challenge and some days I think we are losing. In the meantime we will just keep


Addington had plenty of good news for harness racing on Tuesday and All Stars owners are poised to take advantage. The Cup is now $700,000 while on Show Day is a $40,000 final for pacers nominated August 13 still C0 in class on July 1. The series has five heats in all and is sponsored by Glenys and Phil Kennard's Graphic Design enterprise helping rebuild Christchurch.That wasn't the only good news as the Met. introduced $7000 minimums across the board at Met meetings in the new season. 



For once Group One winner FOLLOW THE STARS and LINDA LOVEGRACE  won but were overshadowed at Addington and by  maiden LIGHTFINGERED and last week's problem horse VICE CONSUL But it was win no 153 for the stable only now -a rather dangling reminder that the elusive 168 season record might have been attainable. Maybe next year.

LIGHTFINGERED, a three quarter brother to ADORE ME  and also bred by Charlie Roberts gave Phil and Glenys Kennard their third win of the night being also  shareholders in both Breeder's Crown walkover winners.. They race Lightfingered with John and Jenny Grainger (Isaiah partners also) and Cheryl Rasmussen whose daughter Natalie's driving  upset the punters once more at Addington when beating stable favourites usually driven by Mark, something she has done regularly all season. This time it was $1.80 shot Big Lucy.

Natalie was seen at her best as she is so often getting near last early when the pace was intense then got  a nice drag into the race down the back and after that the Chertsey workout winner was just too strong over the final stages if green,

"He knows nothing" Natalie said afterward "He is running on ability at this stage but he is a good boy and did the important things late"

Lightfingered didn't have to run great time -2.27.5 for the trip and just 59.8 and 30 for the late sections on a cold night. But he ran about once in front and still won easily, HE WAS TURNED OUT FOR A BREAK AFTER THE RACE.

BIG LUCY on the other hand gave her army of supporters a nightmare run. Trapped on the rails early when she did get off the pegs there was one hold up after another and third was her lot.

"I will probably still go to the Breeder's Crown with her because we are running out of time now and a decision will have to be made. I would just have liked to see her get a clear run to show what she could really do but we just got held up time after time"

BETTER WITH BOURBON had it tough early on a hard pace  then got the one-one and looked a prospect at the turn but his earlier efforts told.

VICE CONSUL put up an outstanding performance. He bobbled early and went to last before moving up to challenge the favourite Dalton Prince down the back. He overcame that runner and fought off the others in 2.22.2 the half in 56.6 and 400m in 27.9-smart fractions on a cold night for owners Merv and Meg Butterworth.



A couple of years ago Mark Purdon while visiting Natalie's family in Queensland was called upon to give his call on a  couple of yearlings Vic and Cheryl Rasmussen might be interested in. The first one Mark liked was Aldo Rossi a $6000 purchase which won $50,000 in his first 10 starts from Rolleston before returning to Queensland where he had to be put aside after developing a problem.

The second one, believe it or not, cost  just $2000 and was named Horace Greeley-but things didn't so so well for him.

He was just ready to come over and get ready for some nice races here when he suffered a freak injury. He was out for over eight months so his three yea old career was on hold. He only got over here a couple of months ago but he had been trained up and it is just good to get him to the races."

"It was funny really. We were looking at a collection of lower priced yearlings and on the way home Vic said to me that he had quite liked the youngster by Western Edition. I said "that's a funny thing because he was the one I liked of the group too'' I couldn't believe it when Vic said they bought him for two grand."

 Horace Greeley had to work quite hard to get to the front and was challenged early in the run home in a 28 and change quarter.


Promising young horseman, Tim Williams, will join All Stars stable in the new season as a replacement for Blair Orange.

"I put a proposition to Tim last week and he rang me on Thursday to accept the position'' Mark said.

"Natalie and I  both feel he will be an ideal fit for our stable. He has already driven for us with success and he impresses as a young man with a very professional approach to his job.

"We expect that he will start with us in early August''

Unlike Blair who had not driven for All Stars before his appointment Tim, 23, has proven success with All Stars. He won the Kindergarten Stakes with Messini and a Cheviot Cup with Southwind Arden.and Mark and Natalie's decision to entrust him with such drives indicated he was a man on the All Stars short list.  He is a former winner of the New Zealand Junior Drivers Championship and has long impressed with the potential he had to reach the top.

Tim was working for Robert Dunn at the same time as his childhood friend Dexter Dunn (the Dunn and Williams families have business connections going back 50 years)  and while he made the most of his opportunities with horses like Kabet and Jamie Gameson-trained Here We Go Again, he moved to Southland in 2012 to further his scope.He already has 189 wins and over $1.5m in stakes in the bin and with a lot more to come.

"I went to Southland nearly two years ago  now because I got a great offer from Wayne Adams who offered me all his driving and that has meant a lot to me in my career. The volume of drives helped me and there were a lot of good ones. Now I am lucky enough to get another opportunity like that back in Christchurch and while it will be a challenge I am looking forward to it''

He said the offer came a little bit out of the blue.

"Of course Christchurch is the big place and I have thought about where   I might have been able to fit in somewhere but most stables had their drivers. Then Blair got his great opportunity and I was hoping and as a result I have got mine. It is a dream come true in many ways''                        



    Missing from the list of NZ Cup propositions for All Stars stable is the tough BORDER CONTROL a tough stayer seemingly born for a race like the Cup But unfortunately a leg problem has proven more extensive than originally thought and the decision has been made to put the Australasian three year old record holder over the mile out for a long spell. Border Ctontrol has been a tough fighter all through his career his win in the NZ Derby and wonderful performance in the Harness Jewels 3yo in 1.50.6 stamped him as one of the best in the business.This season  has not gone his way but a 53.9 800m at Addington reminded everyone how good he was. Hopefully he will be back better than ever next year.



FLY LIKE AN EAGLE was back "home'' on Monday resuming with All Stars in a bid to go one better than his second in the New Zealand Cup in November.

Since being sold out of the stable earlier this year Fly Like An Eagle has largely been with Tony Herlihy but his form deteriorated as his long season wore on. The Mach Three star had a busy winter and spring as a four year old leading up to his great Cup bid and then continued a campaign in Australia and in the north. It was all too much so now he is back where he started his wonderful career. Winning the two year old male Jewels a Derby and just being beaten in the New Zealand Cup the next season is rare. The one to get close was Highview Tommy, now at stud though he did not win a Derby, Fly Like An Eagle  is one of at least five horses All Stars could have headed for Cup honours.

HANDS CHRISTIAN resumed hoppling this week. He is recovering from successive tendon injuries with all that implies but so far is so good.

ADORE ME is back in work after a five week break following the Jewels.

ARDEN ROONEY's staying efforts as a  four year old has earned him a possible Cup start. Mark and Natalie have always considered the top staying races would be his forte.

SMOLDA is back in work at Rolleston and will probably appear around September/October also. He seems 100 per cent

In the wings still is DIDJAMAKEM BOLT pre-training across the Tasman but at this stage he is not a Cup contender.

It does not seem likely Mark and Natalie will again have a four year old in Cup contention as ISAIAH probably the most likely contender has so far had superior form at shorter distances.  Btu the list is far from set in concrete with several months to go before the big race. Normally however the All Star decisions on Cup runners are made by this time of the year.



HANDS CHRISTIAN resumed hoppling this week. He is recovering from successive tendon injuries with all that implies but so far is so good.

ADORE ME is back in work after a five week break following the Jewels.

ARDEN ROONEY's staying efforts as a  four year old has earned him a possible Cup start. Mark and Natalie have always considered the top staying races would be his forte.

SMOLDA is back in work at Rolleston and will probably appear around September/October also. He seems 100 per cent

In the wings still is DIDJAMAKEM BOLT pre-training across the Tasman but at this stage he is not a Cup contender.

It does not seem likely Mark and Natalie will again have a four year old in Cup contention as ISAIAH probably the most likely contender has so far had superior form at shorter distances.  Btu the list is far from set in concrete with several months to go before the big race. Normally however the All Star decisions on Cup runners are made by this time of the year.