Can they do it again?
The All-Stars juggernaut is chasing yet another Auckland Cup on New Year’s Eve at Alexandra Park following years of domination.
It could be a parting gift for their rivals and fans as the successful operation headed by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen are set to step away in 2021.
Without question, they are New Zealand’s most successful ever horse racing stable and made the shock announcement immediately after New Zealand Cup week back in November that left the industry stunned.
In doing so, All Stars Racing, the all-conquering harness racing stable will cease training in their homeland from December 31.
And the time is now.
The Gr.1 $200,000 Woodlands Stud Auckland Cup, a leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit, takes place on Thursday night and the iconic stable will send out a trio of runners for the 3200m stand-start feature.
Representing the stable is star mare Amazing Dream plus class performers Spankem and Ashley Locaz.
The last mare to win the Auckland Cup was Dream About Me back in 2016.
It’s a fearsome attack on the North Island open class feature and the trio all boast excellent credentials.
The victory of Self Assured last year gave the stable their fifth consecutive Auckland Cup following the triumphs of Have Faith In Me (2015) Dream About Me (2016), Vincent (2017) and Turn It Up (2018).
Two editions of the Auckland Cup were staged in 2015 with Christen Me winning the other version.
Unfortunately, a recent setback has robbed Self Assured of defending his title.
Big brother Barry Purdon has a dual-pronged attack on the Auckland Cup with Bad To The Bone and Mach Shard representing his Clevedon stables.
And Barry is no stranger to Auckland Cup success with previous winners including Sole Command (1978), Comedy Lad (1986), Luxury Liner (1987/88), Christopher Vance (1991), Chokin (1993/94) and Holmes DG (2001).
Last year, Mach Shard finished seventh behind Self Assured.
Pukekohe based horseman Ray Green could be the biggest threat to the All-Stars operation with his quality pacer Copy That, the beaten favourite in the New Zealand Cup back in November.
The American Ideal four-year-old entire will command plenty of respect from rivals plus punters.
Green and legendary driver Maurice McKendry are chasing their second Cup victory together after combining back in 2012 with Sir Lincoln.
Astute mentor Steve Telfer is also duly represented with Check In and Triple Eight lining up in the feature.
Both pacers started in last years Cup behind Self Assured.
Dual Auckland Cup winner Robert Dunn (Bolton Byrd 1976 & Master Musician 1992) is represented by Matt Damon and will be driven by his son John.
The last time the Dunn surname features in the Auckland Cup honour roll was 2015 when Robert’s other son Dexter, now firmly North American based, took the winning drive behind Christen Me.
Champion horseman Tony Herlihy has driven eight Auckland Cup winners with his most recent coming back in 2008 behind Gotta Go Cullen, a pacer he prepared himself.
Representing his stable this year is Gambit, a talented son of Shadow Play.
Rugged stayer Thefixer, a runner-up last year behind Self Assured is looking to go one better and his recent form is very solid.
Since being under the care of beach trainer Regan Todd, Thefixer has returned to his old consistent form.
Promising pacer South Coast Arden tackles his biggest test to date, but recent efforts have been pleasing for trainer/driver Brent Mangos.
The $200,000 Woodlands Stud Auckland Cup is race 9 on the program and is listed to start at 8.15pm local time.
The field in barrier draw order.
Bad To The Bone
South Coast Arden