All Stars back with good numbers and a warning

By Michael Guerin

The most feared stable in New Zealand racing gets a little more serious about their comeback at Addington tonight but champion trainer Mark Purdon warns some of his runners come with a warning.

After a deliberately patient return from lockdown, the All Stars produce 10 starters over four races tonight and will have the favourite in all four races.

But Purdon says their softly-softly approach to the comeback means punters should be careful.

“The ones racing are fit enough to race but we have bad weather here a few weeks ago which set a few of the team back fitness-wise,” warns Purdon.

The stable has four juvenile trotters in the first race tonight and Purdon rates Wanna Play With Me (R1, No.2) as their best chance even though he isn’t driving it.

“I don’t base who I am driving on who is the best chance, often it can come down to an array of other reasons,” explains Purdon.

“The filly I am driving Paramount Princess goes really well and so too does Mexicana, even though she can be a bit tricky on the bends while she is still learning.

“But Wanna Play With Me is trotting well and is our top chance.”

The stable also has four juvenile pacers in race four and Bettor Call Me (No.1) has the draw and the experience to be the best chance.

“They all go well but for these young horses the draws can be crucial. He (Bettor Call Me) was second last campaign in a Sires’ Stakes heat and I think he will have gate speed to use the draw.

“Of the others Stag Party and Bettor Twist are both on debut and should improve whereas I think Delightful Dude will need one run, maybe two to see his best.”

Italian Lad (R5, No.15) would seem to have a decent class edge in his rivals and should win but has at least two factors against him.

“He comes out of those good three-year-old races which were all mobile so reverting to a stand we have put him on the unruly,” says Purdon.

“I think he will step away but being 2000m it will be a tricky race and he is big and round so I don’t really want to drive him hard and be taking off too early.

“So he looks the best horse in the race but just be a bit careful there.”

Aqua Sancta (R9, No.1) has burnt the punters before but Purdon says he has strengthened this campaign and from the ace might be too good.

The stable roll out their big guns like Auckland Cup winner Self Assured, Princess Tiffany and Another Masterpiece for their first race starts of their new campaigns at Addington next week while they also have 10 horses booked on a transporter next week bound for Auckland where they will add huge depth to the northern racing.

The team will be headlined by Inter Dominion Trotting Champion Winterfell who prefers right-handed racing and Purdon and partner Natalie Rasmussen will treat the horses on a case by case basis as to who returns to Canterbury for feature races, who stays in Auckland and who heads to Australia.

Heading to Australia already though are Dina Bolt, One Change and Auckland Cup winner Turn It Up, though he's only rated 50-50 to race again because of unsoundness.

They all head to Queensland and will be joined by champion filly Amazing Dream and Ashley Locaz, who will race in Queensland before returning to Canterbury in October.

“We are just trying to break up the team and find the best races for horses, especially with the handicapping system here being so tough on some of them.”

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