An all star filly - Northern Southland

By Mac Henry

Northern Velocity could pick up her second group three win in three starts when she lines up in the Caduceus Club – Southland/Nevele R Stud Fillies Classic staged by the Northern Southland Club at Ascot Park in Invercargill on Saturday.

She is raced by Cheryl Rasmussen and Trevor Titcomb, who enjoyed plenty of success as partners in the mighty Blacks A Fake and are no stranger to winning in Southland, having scored twice with Gentle Western in the past.

Northern Velocity is trained by Cheryl's daughter Natalie, in partnership with Mark Purdon and at her previous start was successful in the American Ideal Leonard Memorial Stakes at the Cheviot meeting in a 1:59.5 mile rate. The winning margin was two and a half lengths and she was driven by Matt Anderson who has the drive again on Saturday.

Second home on debut was Sophisticated Lady , a stablemate of the winner and driven by Jim Curtin. Sophisticated Lady will also line up at Invercargill with Curtin taking the reins again.

Northern Velocity has the front line draw of six while Sophisticated Lady has drawn nine so goes from the inside of the second line. Purdon reckons this tips the scales completely in Northern Velocity's favour.

“She was impressive her last start and has drawn better,” he said. “They're both working well, I'm hoping for a win, a quinella would be nice.”

Mark Jones also has two in the event, which doubles as a qualifying race for the Sires Stakes, including Smoke N Fire who finished fourth in the Leonard Memorial.

“She's just a wee thing but keeps improving,” Jones said, “she'll need luck from the draw but with a good run could be in the top three.”

I Get Around also runs for Jones in the Stakes. She is a daughter of Bettor's Delight and Runaround Rhonda, a half sister to the top Jones performer Saveapatrol but managed only seventh in the Leonard Memorial and Jones admitted to being slightly disappointed.

He is more bullish about the prospects of stablemate Rocker Band, the daughter of Mainland Banner who began her racing career in the south at the Wairio meeting just before Christmas. She was narrowly defeated by Rakarolla that day but was a winner three weeks later on Northern Southland Cup day. Rocker Band has since won Nevele R Stakes heats at Hororata and Timaru meetings and looks a good thing on Saturday in the $18,000 Caduceus Club Of Southland Autumn Futurity 2200 mobile.

“It's hard to beat the males and Nathan's (Statham) will be hard but I favour her (Rocker Band),” Jones said, “she's improved a lot since she was first down.”

Also in Jones' care is That's Hunting Pink, winner in 4:02.5 of the Winton Cup last week and left down south for the 2700 metre Laker House Of Travel Autumn Cup on Saturday. The start will see her qualify for the Country Cups final on Diamond Day next month and Jones hopes she will continue her good form for then.

Astrapi runs for the stable in the Waipouamu & Waimea Contracting Ltd Trot. Jones says he has the ability and only needs to do things right to be in it.

He has Maritime Arden in the Sheet Metalcraft Ltd/Harrington Electrical Ltd Mobile. The race will ensure the southern-bred and owned filly qualifies for the Southland Oaks on Diamond Day and Jones is expecting another good run but admits the 13 draw is not a good one.

Paul and Mitchell Kerr have two in the same race with Bettor Pay Me drawn six and Princess Arts 10. Mitchell said Bettor Pay Me was short of a run when they went 2:55.9 last week and will be driven more quietly this week.

“Princess Arts is a really nice filly and she'll be in the Southland Oaks if she goes okay,” he said.