Aggressive tactics the key to Chase A Dream's win

By Michael Guerin

Just an hour before the $200,000 Harness Million Pace driver Natalie Rasmussen told co-trainer Nathan Purdon how she thought she could win it.

“I liked what I heard,” smiled Purdon after Chase A Dream led throughout to beat Cold Chisel in the latest leg of their personal battle.

Ramussen, only just back driving after a six-month layoff, told Purdon she wanted to launch Chase A Dream from the outside of the gate to get across Cold Chisel.

It was risky, if it didn’t work it meant almost certain defeat. But the pair agreed and a plan was born.

“I agreed with what she was thinking, that if we went back we had few options,” says Purdon.

“Especially as we had three in the race it could be tactically really messy so it couldn’t have worked out better.”

Rasmussen was true to her word and once Chase A Dream led he got enough of a let-up, with a 33-second middle quarter, to have enough energy to hold Cold Chisel at bay in another great home stretch battle.

It meant Chase A Dream reversed the result of their clash in the Harness Million at Addington last year and continued the rivalry that started when they went through the sales ring in Christchurch as consecutive lots two years ago.

“He is a very good horse,” says Rasmussen.

“He has a bit of everything, he is fast and he can stay. I think he is the best of them.”

Chase A Dream and Cold Chisel will now continue their battle through to the Northern Derby next month but at the moment it is definitely advantage Chase A Dream for our top three-year-old, ranking albeit with a long way of season 2024 to go.

Earlier in the night co-trainer Mark Purdon employed those same tactics from the outside of the gate to get We Walk By Faith home in a talent-packed $25,000 race.

He crossed straight to the front and held out an impressive Duchess Megxit.

They will now head separate ways as Duchess Megxit stays in Auckland for the fillies’ features culminating in the Northern Oaks but We Walk By Faith crosses the Tasman to the NSW Derby.

“He will go on Sunday week,” says Nathan Purdon.

In between the two top All Stars boys winning it was Coastal Babe who just justified favouritism for the $150,000 NZBS Harness Millions for the three-year-old girls.

She led easily but had to cling on late to hold out trailer Kiss in a nailbiter, with Ultimate Racy Girl a strong third after sitting parked.

“It is so satisfying because I think we only bought three yearlings in her year,” said trainer Steven Reid.

While she only just won Coastal Babe looks certain to improve and Matty White drove her like he knew it, being very kind to her up the straight to get her home without hurting or souring her early in her campaign.

It was an excellent, mature piece of horsemanship.

While Team Purdon/Phelan had to settle for second in all three of the above races they finally turned those tables in the least-expected matter in the night’s main pacing handicap when Mach Shard turned back the clock to beat Self Assured.

The veteran pacer has only recently-returned from Sydney and raced free-legged and looked a happy horse, grabbing Self Assured after the favourite gave him a drag into the race.

It is testament to his will to win that after 101 starts, dating back to winning the Young Guns seven years ago, Mach Shard still wants to be a good horse, which is what he reminded us all he is.

For all the wonderful performances in in the pacing races the most popular win of the night may have come in the $40,000 Fiskens Northern Breeders Stakes Trot for the mares.

Jasinova led every step of the 2700m to just hold out Sacred Mountain to give owner-breeder-trainer-driver Dr Luk Chin his third win in the Group 3 trot and her 15th career success.

As one of the other trainers in the race so perfectly summed it up after the race.

“When I could see my horse couldn’t win I wanted Luk to win,” she said, in a common sentiment.

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