- 17 July 2017
by Adam Hamilton
Another Carnival and another display of dominance from the All Stars’ barn.
Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen finished the Queensland Winter Carnival with five runners for four wins and a third.
Partyon landed the Provincial Oaks and ran third in the Queensland Oaks, while The More The Better won all three starts – Premiers’ Cup, Provincial Derby and last Saturday night’s Group Two Queensland Derby.
He saved his best for last. The Queensland Derby win was a bit special. The times said so.
The More The Better’s 1.56 mile rate for 2680m broke Im Themightyquinn’s track record. It was 0.1 quicker than Hectorjayjay ran winning the Group One Blacks A Fake a few races later.
And part-owner Roy Purdon was trackside to watch it.
Natalie Rasmussen partnered The More The Better to his first two Queensland wins, but she’s away on holiday so Mark Purdon took the reins himself this time. The result was the same.
Purdon drove as though he was on the best horse, and basically bludgeoned his way to the lead inside a lap. From there he was always going to be impossible to beat.
Last start Queensland Oaks winner Shartin, who led and took the trail, tried hard along the sprint lane to get within a half-neck, while another filly My Casino Belle ran a monstrous third after sitting parked in blistering times.
Former Purdon pacer Motu Meteor was shuffled to three pegs, and found it impossible to bridge the gap on the winner in a 27.3 last quarter. He ran a solid fourth.
The More The Better and Partyon now head to Sydney to qualify for the Breeders Crown, and then it’s on to Melbourne for the semis and finals of the Crown.
Top Queensland trainer Grant Dixon is hitting the road again with his buzz juvenile Colt Thirty One.
Dixon thought enough of the Mach Three colt to have a dip at the Australian Gold series at Menangle back in April, but immaturity got the better of him.
He learned from the experience and has returned to Queensland a lethal force, as evidence by his amazing 20m win in a sizzling 1.53.9 mile rate in the Group One Qbred final at Albion Park last Saturday night.
“We’re taking him to the Breeders Crown,” part-owner and breeder Kevin Seymour said. “We have to take him after what he did tonight (Saturday).”
With stand-out juvenile Lumineer out with injury, it’s a smart play by Seymour and Dixon.
On what Colt Thirty One did Saturday night, he looms as one of the major players in the Crown.
The other Group One Qbred winner, NSW filly Arts Treasure, could also head to the Crown.
“She’s got so much talent, but is still pretty big and raw,” trainer-driver James Rattray said. “That’s one of the most challenging drives I’ve had, but thankfully she did enough right to get the job done.”
There is some serious X-factor about former Kiwi juvenile Jack Mac.
Yes he might not be beating much in the WA juvenile features, but it’s more about the way he’s doing it and the times he is running.
Throw in the fact his driver Chris Lewis – a renowned hard-marker – has a huge opinion of him and you know this is no ordinary youngster.
The son of Mach Three arrived in WA with five unplaced NZ starts under his belt, but has belied that with six wins from as many starts.
The latest was the biggest in the $125,000 Group One Golden Slipper (2130m) at Gloucester Park last Friday night.
The colt sat parked early, worked to the front, left his rivals standing to win by 7.3m and broke the race record with a 1.57 mile rate.
“The colt appreciates his new environment and has thrived since recently joining our stable,” trainer Barry Howlett said. “We plan to start him in the Golden Slipper, then he’ll go for a spell.
“Next season’s three-year-old feature events will be on his programme.”
Still on Gloucester Park and champion driver Gary Hall Jr put on a clinic last Friday night.
Hall Jr won half the 10-race card on a mix of favourites and outsiders.
The highlight was yet another sparkling and effortless win from buzz four-year-old Chicago Bull in the Free-For-All.
Hall Jr’s other wins came with The Publisher and Zach Maguire in races one and five for his father, trainer Gary Hall Sr.
He then finished off the night winning the second-last race on Sprinter for Gary Elson and $28.30 shot Illusionation for trainer Glenn Elliott in the final event.
The decision to try and rejuvenate classy NSW mare Ameretto by sending her south to Kerryn Manning has been a smash hit.
She’s improved at each of her four runs and looked positively stunning winning the Group Three Jane Ellen for mares’ by a cricket pitch at Melton last Friday night.
In a solidly run race, Ameretto stormed around the field out three wide to quickly put the race beyond doubt, and beat a good field by 17.3m in a blazing 1.55.4 mile rate for 2240m.
Ameretto won 17 races over her two, three and four-year-old seasons with Ashlee Grives (formerly Siejka), but had raced below her best with five NSW unplaced runs before being sent to Manning.
She’s now won 18 races and almost $270,000 with the promise of plenty more to come given the nature of her win last Friday.
It was the first leg of a training and driving double for Manning, who also scored with former Kiwi pacer Itz Bettor To Win in the seventh race.
The Merv Butterworth-owned gelding is gradually getting back to the potential he showed as a younger horse, and before being sidelined with injury.
The now five-year-old only scored by a head, but it was the fact he came from an outside back row draw, and around the field in a 1.54.7 mile rate for 1720m.
The controversial date switch and stakemoney cut for the Victoria Cup has certainly divided opinions.
Like it not, HRV has at least been able to snare a sponsor with Allied Express signing-on for the October 14 feature at Melton.
Passionate harness man Colin McDowell, still involved strongly on the breeding and training side of things through his family, is Allied’s CEO and was thrilled to sponsor the Victoria Cup.
An even bigger coup will come if the new timeslot means buzz WA pacer Chicago Bull makes the trip across for Perth for the Victoria Cup.