All Stars Aiming At Auckland Cup Again

27 December 2017 | Chris Barsby

Mark Purdon knows a thing or two about the Auckland Cup.

The champion horseman has trained the winner of the North Island feature five times, including last year’s heroine Dream About Me in race record time.

His other past champions include Have Faith In Me, Auckland Reactor, Young Rufus and Sharp And Telford.

On Sunday night at Alexandra Park, the All Stars stable will be represented by a trio of charges in the Gr.1 $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup including boom four-year-old Vincent plus Titan Banner and the enigmatic Heaven Rocks.

Unbeaten in both starts this term, Vincent is clearly the horse to beat following his record breaking victory in the $50,000 Franklin Cup on December 15 followed by his easy romp in the $50,000 Futurity at Cambridge on Christmas Eve.

The hulking Art Major - Kept For Pleasure entire has landed barrier four in the 3200m stand-start feature.

With Purdon currently suspended, star reinsperson Natalie Rasmussen will take the drive again, just like she did in the Franklin Cup.

But there is something eerily similar between his past winners and his loaded gun this year.

Four of his five Auckland Cup winners have all been four-year-olds, just like Vincent.

Dream About Me, Have Faith In Me, Auckland Reactor and Sharp And Telford were all baby faced assassins when triumphant in the Auckland Cup.

Young Rufus was a five-year-old when successful.

So, despite his inexperience and lack of Grand Circuit smarts, Purdon will have Vincent primed for his big open class test.

Big brother Barry is also very familiar with the Auckland Cup, having prepared the winner 8 times previously.

All but Holmes DG were prepared in partnership with his legendary father Roy - starting with Sole Command and followed by Comedy Lad, Luxury Liner (x 2), Christopher Vance and Chokin ( x 2).

Driving champions Peter Wolfenden (Sole Command) and Tony Herlihy (all others) took driving honours for the father/son partnership.

Barry took the winning drive himself when successful with Holmes DG.

This year, Barry will send out talented four-year-old Jacks Legend while entrusting the drive with skillful reinsman Zachary Butcher.

Other four-year-old’s competing this year include the Steve Reid prepared Star Galleria and the Greg and Nine Hope trained A G’s White Socks.

Both are extremely talented types and should prove dangerous given the right luck.

Herlihy will partner Star Galleria while dual Auckland Cup winning reinsman Ricky May takes the lines behind A G’s White Socks.

Cup winning trainer Ray Green (2012 - Sir Lincoln) prepares Northview Hustler and will engage dual Cup winning driver David Butcher (Elsu - 2003/04) for the drive.

Surprisingly, respected horseman Brent Mangos is chasing his maiden success in the Auckland Cup and will partner his talented runner Maxim.

Mangos has won most features at the premier North Island track.

Also chasing Cup success for the first time include Jeremy Young (Bryson Ideal), Mike Berger (Max Phactor & Lusty Mac) and Anna Donnelly (Imajollywally).

As it stands, the dominant force of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have won two of the three legs this season of the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit following the victories of mighty pacer Lazarus in the New Zealand Cup and Inter Dominion.

The opening leg of the 2017/18 series, the Victoria Cup was taken out by hometown hero Lennytheshark in clinical style.

The Auckland Cup is the 4th leg of the 8 race series.

Start time for the Auckland Cup is 7.35pm local.