All Stars schools them again in Kindergarten Stakes

By Jonny Turner

Bill Murray wasn’t there but it still felt like Groundhog Day at Wyndham on Thursday.

Instead, trainers Mark and Nathan Purdon and driver Blair Orange played the starring roles as Rubira took out the Macca Lodge Group 2 Kindergarten Stakes.

The victory continued a remarkable run in the race for the All Stars stable, who have won 11 of the past 12 editions of the time-honoured Southland feature.

Rubira had faced just one other race rival leading into his Kindergarten Stakes tilt.

The two-year-old’s lack of experience didn’t help him at Wyndham, but his class took him to a big Group 2 win.

“He is a pretty nice horse, but his ringcraft is still not quite 100%,” Orange said.

“He is very, very green but he has definitely got the motor.”

Testing weather and track conditions likely contributed to a sedate pace through the middle stages of the Kindergarten Stakes.

That set up a dash home with a very respectable 27.6sec last 400m, where Rubira showed he was the best speedster in the race.

But going forward, Orange expects the pacer to relish a staying test.

“It was only a dash home today, but he was in for the fight and I think he is probably a better stayer than a sprinter.”

Thursday’s win was the second in a row for Mark and Nathan Purdon partnership.

Amid the All Stars' recent domination, Mark Purdon has trained six winners of the race with Natalie Rasmussen, one on his own and another in partnership with Hayden Cullen.

Cullen also produced Akuta to win the race in his own right, while training from the All Stars base in 2021.

Orange has now racked up six Kindergarten Stakes wins, with All Stars pacers Lennon and Ohoka Arizona winning the race before the stable’s recent run of 11 out of 12.

There have been many changes at the All Stars barn along the way, including Orange’s role changing, but the driver’s success in the blue colours has been a constant.

“Mark, Nathan, Natalie and Grant Payne, they have all been a big part of my career while I was there and we are just carrying on that association.”

The Southlanders were again shut out of their big two-year-old feature, but two locals impressed in the features for older horses on Kindergarten Stakes Day.

Fiery Bandito couldn’t have been more impressive when cruising to victory in what was the toughest test of his short career in Thursday’s feature trot.

Da Vinci continued his outstanding form to take out the Hunter Handicap with a big late finish.




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