All Stars' Australia-wide raid includes Hunter Cup chase

03 January 2018 | Trots Media - Michael Guerin

Three white pieces of paper covered in scribbled nicknames hold the key to over $5 million of summer harness racing riches.

And the first plans contained on those papers go into action this Friday night with a surprise at Cambridge and a champion in Perth.

After a complete domination of Sunday’s Auckland Trotting Cup meeting - where they won seven of nine races they contested - Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen sat down yesterday to plan where their army of pacing stars go next.

The logistics are mind-boggling, with not just tens of millions of dollars of horseflesh heading to all parts of Australasia, requiring flights, ground transportation and handlers, but the bookings for all the staff who need to be in New South Wales and Victoria weeks before the racetrack action starts.

An example: while Vincent and his stablemates were running the trifecta in the Auckland Cup, the stable had Lazarus, Ultimate Machete, Have Faith In Me and Piccadilly Princess having a quiet day in Perth, where the All Stars have had a traveling foreman for six weeks.

That is where Lazarus will resume on Friday night before he races there the following two weeks, with Ultimate Machete and Have Faith In Me joining him in both the Fremantle and West Australia cups.

“He is working well so this week will be a perfect lead-up to the cups for him,” says Purdon, who is back from suspension to drive Lazarus on Friday night.

The blueprint for the rest of the all-conquering stable was only confirmed yesterday and it has some calls which will impact dramatically on pre-post markets as well as the Group 1 racing landscape.

The only good news for Australian trainers is the already expected decisions that unbeaten three-year-old Chase Auckland will stay home, as does Elle Mac, while Dream About Me also does as she struggles with soundness.

“Chase Auckland has had a couple of hard runs and been great in them but you can’t do that every week so he will miss the Derbys in Victoria and NSW and be set for the Northern Derby here,” explains Purdon.\

“And Dream About Me hasn’t been quite right so won’t go to Australia but we will have Piccadilly Princess and Partyon for the mares races over there.”

Even without Chase Auckland the three-year-old team for the Derbys in Australia will contain The Devils Own and All U Need Is Faith (NSW), Spankem and Ashley Locaz (Victoria and then possibly NSW).

But the other big surprise is that Heaven Rocks will take his unique brand of crazy to both Victoria and NSW, after stopping in at Cambridge on Friday night for the $60,000 Flying Mile.

“I was happy with him in the Auckland Cup and after Cambridge he will go to the Ballarat Cup and the Hunter Cup, with Laz going to the Hunter as well.

“Then they will both go to NSW to try and qualify for the Miracle Mile.”

Vincent and Titan Banner will be waiting for their mates at Menangle, with the pair to skip Victoria and Vincent will race in lead ups to the Chariots Of Fire on February 10 and Titan Banner in free-for-alls before the Miracle Mile preludes on February 17.

That raises the very real possibility if Ultimate Machete qualifies for the Chariots Of Fire and races well there, the All Stars could have five horses in the running for a Miracle Mile invite.

“It is possible that could happen but we are not getting carried away with that, there is a lot of racing to go before then,” said Purdon.

The one window of opportunity the stable has left open for their rivals is the NSW Oaks, for which they won’t have their best fillies in action.

“It clashes with the Sales Series at Addington so fillies like Elle Mac will stay home and Bettor Trix and Bare Knuckle will be our NSW Oaks pair.”