VALE NEIL PILCHER

Neil, who has been in indifferent health for some time, suffered severe back pain late in the week and was removed to hospital . The family, including his wife, Rose  were summoned on Friday evening and he passed early on   Saturday morning . His last runner, Mach Up, had been a winner for Mark at Addington a few hours before.  He was 80 and had won nearly 350 races.

Neil had been closely associated with Mark's training career from the start of it in the mid 1990's and with Roy and Barry before that

"We had been family friends for years. Neil was in Kumeu earlier and transported the horses down south for Roy and Barry and was then in Christchurch so the association strengthened  when I moved south" Mark said.

Neil played a key role in that stage of Mark's career as a backer, advisor and "volunteer" stable hand. In more recent times he was the man finessing the track before and during fast work at Rolleston and master of the kitchen for staff breaks. But he did a lot more than that. Much more. He raced any number of successful horses, most notably the $2.5m Inter Dominion championship winner Smolda and his contemporary Fly Like an Eagle as well as outstanding horses like Waikiki Beach (19 wins for Neil ), Major Mark (12 wins)  Follow the Stars (16 wins), Classic Cullen (16 wins) Border Control (18 wins)  Ohoka Dallas and  Russley Rascal ) to name a few.

But he remembered with affection lesser winners of earlier days in the north among them Takitimu Vance (10 wins from the Peter Wolfenden stable) of which he told many stories. And his winning tally could have been much higher but for the fact that Neil just loved "the deal" and was always prepared to sell horses for export before they reached their potential. He preferred to race with one or more partners, the Kennard syndicates Bill Grice and Trevor Casey being regular ones than solo ownership though he did both. He earlier raced with his wife Rose and brother Lee and members of the Purdon and Wolfenden families. Tony Herlihy was a close friend and was rarely without a horse of Pilch's in the stable. 

Pilch had  great affection for the stock of Courage Under Fire, Smolda being the best but with a long list of other successes including the second last, Turn It Up.

"You should always leave something in the horse for the next joker. I have always followed that and if you do it they will come back for more" he used to say and a lifetime of experience in doing deals meant he was a man to listen to.

"He was just a really good bloke and of great support to me in so many ways" Mark said

"Roy and Barry had a horse for him, I think Speedy Demo, who  started his racing association with our stable. He was a good friend of Peter Wolfenden in those days and Peter Young trained for him as well. So he was a regular at the Kumeu track which is where we got to know him well"

"Like everyone else you always expected him to bounce back from a bout of bad health. He had done it so many times"

"It is a sad day for those of us who knew him but you are reassured by the knowledge that Pilch had done so many things in his life that he would have gone having no regret

Neil had indeed done many things in his eventful life but was best known to many for his highly successful Inter Island Horse Transport which from humble beginnings with one float  he bought from Don Hayes at Kumeu became the standard for horse transporters in this country. Trevor Casey was an associate.  Neil   sold to Majestic Horse Floats some years ago though retaining the ownership of the depots.

His business was notable for its professionalism. The later floats were state of the art, thoroughly cleaned after every trip and had special suspensions to aid horse comfort Neil never ran his floats "into the ground" preferring as with his horse sales to leave life in them or others while keeping up with the trends by renewing. He could be a hard taskmaster at times but aware of, and loyal to, those who who appreciated him. There are countless unknown people, especially in racing, who were beneficiaries of his kindness. 

Earlier he had been a farm hand at more than one venue, and a demolition operator in Auckland where sometimes mystery explosions after midnight bypassed the need for a lot of paper work with the Council. But in some ways his happiest working years were as, of all things, a nurse in a southern psychiatric hospital where he stayed several years going to work there on the advice of a friend who pointed out the pay was higher than on a farm and the hours better. "I got on well with most of the patients and you got to know a lot of them really well" he recalled

  His love of the art of the deal extended to truck imports from North America which numbered in their hundreds, taking the good with the bad when some arrived in a lot worse condition than promoted. E  Bay could sometimes be his second home.

Neil and some friends were badly hit when a business proposal involving the floats being merged with other aspects of racing failed in the tempestuous 1980's when the men promising the finance  walked away. It was a tribute to all concerned that they recovered from this serious setback their reputations untouched,underlining Neil's business acumen. 

He was also a successful owner of gallopers mostly out of the stable of Peter and Dawn Williams some of which also included Mark in their ownership. though Neil had been involved with them in his early years.

He was astute man on the deal, as likely to walk away if it didn't suit where others might compromise .The same with people. Neil was a good  friend and helper to a lot of people but it was  always better to stay in his blue book rather  than the red one.

Although Neil realised he was nearing the end of his life it never affected his spirit or his sense of humour, usually accompanied by a quiet grin

Recently he purchased a new truck preferring to source it in Auckland after a local dealer wouldn't do his price. He acknowledged that after he and brother Lee had gone to Auckland and driven it back to Christchurch there wasn't any difference in cost  from the original local quote . But that wasn't the point. It was the deal that did it.

Mark recalls a quip surrounding Neil's recent purchase of an electric mobility vehicle asking if i was new. Neil pointed out it was $5000 new and he had got it for not much more than half that. He noted that second hand was always better than new with such machines.

"They are almost always low mileage" he grinned

He went to the Sales  and spent $120,000 on one lot {"He was one of our owners we couldn't put a limit on !" Mark says "I think he regarded it as his last throw and he was making the most of it") and more recently has invested in several new ventures including the trotter Musculus just two weeks ago in anticipation of another Harness Jewels runner. He had hoped to be at Addington Friday where he had three runners engaged and then at Cambridge on Jewels day.

It is a great sadness for Neil Pilcher's family and many friends  not to mention a host of associates that this time he will not be there.

But there will be,about now , a deal being done somewhere Upstairs about the conditions he prefers -where St Peter might  more than meet his match !     


"PILCH" had a great sendoff at Addington on Thursday many hundreds turning out to pay tribute to a man who touched many lives. Peter Smith (Pilch's accountant) Trevor Casey, Mark,and Peter Jones gave an excellent summary of Neil's life both on a personal and professional levels and his colourful personality. A convivial few hours were spent afterward in Twiggers as Neil would have wished. Some of the best lines from the day.


"Not as quickly as you did " Peter Jones describing a Neil answer to a question from a traffic officer who had clocked Neil doing about 150km en route to the West Coast driving a big Chev in the fog . The  answer came when cop  appeared from out of the fog and  accused him of emerging  too quickly out of it to be inside the limit. Peter added that it turned out Neil knew the officer's father and left with a warning!


 "Only send one bunch of flowers " a Pilch classic one liner to Mark as he was loaded on the ambulance for hospital last Friday


 The story of one of Neil's float drivers who got a hefty pay check in his first week and pointed out it was quite a lot more than the agreed wage

"Its what you are worth" Pilch replied


Trevor Casey- "One day after a lunch we decided to celebrate a recent good win with a few extra drinks. When we finished we were talking in riddles and had finished 13 bottles of pinot noir among three of us. We thought that would be a record. A month later we won another good race and went again. This time we drank 14 bottles ! That will stay as the record.

Trevor "He replaced his floats after 400,000kms always leaving life in them for the next user and some of them are still on the road. But his pride and joy was the 15 horse float he built  the "money float" which was constantly on the road from north to south"


Mark "He was exact about time. Neil always wanted to know what time to be there and he was usually early. It was a 6.30 start at the stables and he was always there at 6.15. If I was running late the phone would go at 6.35 with a simple message - "Awaiting instructions"


BONUS YARN -( Neil's brother Lee's special) One that got away on the day.

Pilch was in Brisbane for the 2009 Inter Dominions but took seriously ill before the series started. When told the ambulance would cost $700 he said it was far too expensive and called a cab instead- which naturally took quite a bit longer. On arrival  Pilch was up for a triple bypass and was lucky to emerge relatively unscathed.

To make up for lost time he splashed $1000 to win on Auckland Reactor from hospital in the first heat which might have seemed odd considering the ambulance decision.  Not the way Pilch saw it.

Auckland Reactor ran second. *





(43 wins from 88 drives to date $1.79m.

114 wins from 358 starts training $4.4m)

"It is not easy to sort out the highs and lows of this season as you can understand but I think winning the three Group Ones on one night in Auckland (Messenger, Sires Stakes, Trotting Derby in April) was right up there because you don't often do that !.

There were a lot of top horses I drove but thought Ultimate Machete winning the Free for All first up in open company was special.That was a real feat. There were others like Princess Tiffany and Elle Mac among the girls and Eamon Maguire later in the season but  the triple G1 was probably the tops.

A personal highlight for us was getting into a financial position where we could enjoy it all a little more and that has been a battle. Lows? The virus the team got in Sydney was one though that can always happen. Losing Neil Pilcher was the worst. He had been such a supporter for so long and we miss him






-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. "

2015-2016 was a MEMORABLE season for our three year olds. They won EVERY Group One pacing race of the New Zealand season, quinellaed EIGHT of them and trifectaed one. In addition they won the NSW DERBY, VICTORIA DERBY ,VICTORIA OAKS and the NSW OAKS in Australia.  That is THIRTEEN G1 winners from one crop.  The New Zealand triumphs were-

SIRES STAKES FINAL;   LAZARUS -  1950M 2.19.2 (1.54.8) quinella with Chase the Dream

SIRES STAKES FINAL: GOLDEN GODDESS -2200M 2.36.9 (1.54.7) quinella with Piccadilly Princess

GREAT NORTHERN DERBY -LAZARUS -2700M 3.17.1 (1.57.4) quinella with Chase the Dream

GREAT NORTHERN OAKS-PICCADILLY PRINCESS-2700M 3.17.9 (1.57.9) quinella with Golden Goddess

You will know them by now-Lazarus, Waikiki Beach, Dream About Me, Piccadilly Princess heads Golden Goddess.

NEW ZEALAND DERBY-LAZARUS-  2600M 3.08.5 (1.56.6)

NEW ZEALAND OAKS-DREAM ABOUT ME - 2600M 3.11.6 (1.58.5) quinella with Golden Goddess

NEVELE R FILLIES FINAL-DREAM ABOUT ME -1950M 2.18.1 (1.53.9) quinella with Golden Goddess

HARNESS JEWELS 3YO DIAMOND -PICCADILLY PRINCESS- one mile 1.53 quinella with Golden Goddess

HARNESS JEWELS 3YO EMERALD-HEAVEN ROCKS-one mile 1.52.4 quinella with Major Ben


***FOUR OF THE ALL STARS THREE YEAR OLDS (Lazarus, Piccadilly Princess, Dream About Me, Waikiki Beach) ARE UNBEATEN IN AUSTRALIA THIS SEASON




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,     




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.                    



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 "


2018-Lazarus 1st

-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












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




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.






***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








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.**********

***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.





***STAKES OVER $800,000



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



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






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



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


*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

*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







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

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

*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.