A break from tradition

NZ HARNESS NEWS

Ultimate Machete will break from tradition in his quest to justify his favouritism for the New Zealand Cup.

The five-year-old will take the slightly unusual path of going to Addington for his last race before the country’s biggest harness race, rather than having his final lead-up run in the Ashburton Flying Stakes or the Kaikoura Cup.

Ultimate Machete will take the same path in Flashing Red did before he won the first of his two New Zealand Cups in 2006.

Flashing Red won the corresponding 2600m handicap in 2006 that Ultimate Machete will contest this year on November 2.

Ultimate Machete was to race in next week’s Kaikoura Cup, but those plans changed after his massive performance in the Ashburton Flying Stakes.

The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained pacer copped the worst of what drivers labelled a shambolic start to the event and galloped for around 150m.

The Bettor’s Delight stallion staged a massive recovery to run fifth, producing stunning closing sectionals.

After assessing Ultimate Machete the morning after his race, the stable decided to give the horse extra time to recover from the run.

“He went a great race and when I came back and analysed the video his times were sensational,” Purdon said.

“The race was only a week away, so I thought I would give him a couple of quiet days.”

The race has a maximum backmark of 30m and that is where Ultimate Machete will have his last chance of race day standing start practice before the New Zealand Cup.

His starting manners remain the biggest question mark around his New Zealand Cup campaign.

Though Purdon did not apportion blame on the horse for his gallop at Ashburton, it was the third time he had galloped in six standing starts in trials and workouts he has competed in this spring.

The Kaikoura Cup changed markedly from nomination time on Tuesday to acceptance time on Wednesday.

Sheriff was to start in the race, depending on the outcome of tests following his failure in an undercard race at Ashburton on Monday.

He was withdrawn and so was Lets Elope.

Trainers Frank Cooney and Tate Hopkins nominated their rejuvenated veteran for the race.

They called off their Southern raid and Lets Elope will instead clash with Chicago Bull and Jack’s Legend at Alexandra Park on Friday.

Trainer Steven Reid had no plans to start Star Galleria in the Kaikoura Cup after his good fourth placing.

However, the horse is now set to take his place in Monday’s field.

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