Good enough to take on top age group


NZ’s premier harness racing trainers, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, are likely to have four, and possibly five three-year-olds, in next Friday’s opening southern NRM Sires Stakes Heat.

Purdon confirmed Chase Auckland, who produced a sparkling performance to win the night’s opener at Addington on Friday night in a 1:56.5 mile rate for the 1950m, impressed enough to take on the top age group pacers next week.

“He was good enough to race at two but he ended up having a bone chip removed from a hind fetlock,” Purdon said.

“It was probably a little blessing in disguise.”

Chase Auckland, who won his Addington debut two weeks earlier by 5 ¼ lengths, was even sharper at the business end, second-up, although the winning margin was just three lengths this time.

He wasn’t rushed off the gate, but ambled up parked outside the leader at the 1300m and was a class above from the home turn.

Driver Natalie Rasmussen had the necessary response when she gave him a couple of flicks at the 300m and Chase Auckland quickly strode past leader Scarlett Banner and put a winning break on second favourite Hail Christian.

Chase Auckland cruised away, being race-timed over his last 800m in 56.2s and his closing 400m in 26.3s.

A gelded son of former Allstars champ, Auckland Reactor, Chase Auckland was a $45,000 purchase at the 2016 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka, South Auckland, for the Alabar Racing Syndicate.

The Cran Dalgety-trained Pat’s Delight was another Sires Stakes contender in winning form.

The Bettor’s Delight colt showed gate speed from the one draw, but champion driver Dexter Dunn elected to take a trail behind Sportscaster, leaving him in a trailing pocket and ready to pounce.

Pat’s Delight unleased half-way down the straight with an inside run, winning by a length from second favourite and another Sires Stakes contender in The Brooklyn Brawler, who moved up parked from a wide gate.

“That was a perfect race for him to resume in,” Dunn said of Pat’s Delight.

“But its going to be a hard heat next week with the Allstars ones in and horses like Nigel McGrath’s Aloka coming back too,” said

His overall winning rate was over two seconds slower than Chase Auckland , going a 1:58.8 rate (1950m) with the leaders last 800m in 57s and final 400m in 27.2s.

Whittaker, raced by Gold Coast owner Greg Brodie from the Burnham stable of Mark Jones, was another to make the most of a trailing run for driver Sam Ottley in the night’s fast class R65 and faster pace.

Rangiora horseman Gavin Smith, who prepared Red Moon Rising to win the junior drivers pace, fresh-up since July in the hands off Matt Anderson, reined distinctive grey trotter Doctor Bones, to win the night’s feature R65 and faster trot.

Eight-year-old Doctor Bones, trained at Blenheim by Barry Ford, was first-up since last racing in May.