As far as elite drivers go, the name of Natalie Rasmussen is clearly in the conversation.
The trailblazing girl from Queensland can drive.....and she can drive fast.
But it’s the soft hands and gentle approach that puts her in rare air.
Her collection of big race trophies includes Inter Dominions, Miracle Mile, Queensland Pacing Championships and Auckland, Victoria and Hunter Cups.
Rasmussen has led the way for female drivers by becoming the first to win the Inter Dominion, Queensland Pacing Championship plus the Auckland, Victoria and Winter Cups.
All of the above mentioned are Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit events, the best of the best.
And the latest trophy to the mantelpiece, the Gr.1 $800,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup, another Grand Circuit feature.
Rasmussen produced another polished display to land the 3200m stand start feature, getting race favourite Thefixer away safely before taking the early lead from Star Galleria and then handing over to stablemate Dream About Me.
It was typical of her normal poise and guile in big pressure events.
The victory puts her alongside fellow Australian Kerryn Manning as the only female winners of the famed feature.
Rasmussen also co-trains the winner in partnership with Mark Purdon.
After a long delay following a botched attempt the first time around with the starting strand becoming entangled with Eamon Maguire, runners were called back and forced to stand to attention again.
But the delay had no effect on Rasmussen or Thefixer with a safe beginning made and landing in a dangerous position while key rivals navigated some early traffic and jostled for positions.
Sitting patiently in the trail, Thefixer followed Dream About Me and saved much needed energy, the lead time was covered in 1:57.8.
Sole Aussie raider Tiger Tara soon made his move and circled three-wide before parking outside Dream About Me, he maintained strong pressure onwards.
Approaching the home turn, Dream About Me and Tiger Tara sprinted as strong as they could and actually had Thefixer losing their backs but Rasmussen went to work and the nuggety little stayer knuckled down and picked up via the passing lane to defeat a gallant Tiger Tara with Dream About Me filling third place.
The winning margin was a head with a half-length back to third.
The winning time was 3:53.9 - the mile rate was 1:57.6.
“I can retire happily now that I’ve finally won this race,” Rasmussen declared.
“That was so so close but we got there, he’s been a project horse of mine for some time and he’s such a great little stayer, we got a great run but I was worried when the sprint went on but he fought all the way to the finish and he was brave. It wasn’t an ideal campaign with the hoof abscess but things worked out well.”
It was her 7th drive in the New Zealand Cup.
Her victories on New Zealand soil now tally 237 from 612 drives while amassing more than $7.9 million.
The All Stars stable has now won 4 of the past 5 editions.
And the efforts of super sire Bettors Delight can’t go unnoticed, his 5th straight winner of the Cup plus a trifecta!
Thefixer is by Bettors Delight from the Christian Cullen mare Tosti Girl and came at a cost of $47,000 at the 2015 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka.
The next leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit is the Inter Dominion in Melbourne on December 15.