All Stars' three-peat building nicely

By Adam Hamilton

MARK Purdon will be watching with excitement and enthusiasm, albeit from afar, as night one of the Melbourne Inter Dominion unfolds at Melton.

Purdon’s led the charge with long stints in Perth to win the past two Inter Dominion finals with Smolda (2016) and Lazarus last year, but partner Natalie Rasmussen has the Melbourne gig this time.

Purdon’s focus is on the big racing at Alexandra Park, while Rasmussen is in Melbourne for the next couple of weeks with the All Stars’ two contenders, Cruz Bromac and Spankem.

“I’ll only head across if they both make the final,” Purdon said. “But I’m really glad we’re part of the series again. It’s such an important event for the sport.”

Rasmussen, who famously won four Inter Dominion finals with the great Blacks A Fake, said Cruz Bromac and Spankem had settled and worked well since arriving in Melbourne on Wednesday.

She is shooting for her seventh Pacing Grand Final win in total, having shared the past two with Purdon.

“I’m happy with them both and it’s good they’re both drawn the front to start the series,” she said.

“We really liked Cruz Bromac as soon as he came to the stable and he’s got the draw to start this series well. He’s a really nice horse.”

Cruz Bromac has been $1.50 into $1.25 from gate four in the third of the opening night pacing heats.

Spankem is a $14 shot from gate five in the fascinating first heat where Wrappers Delight ($2.90), Tiger Tara ($3.40) and My Alpha Rock ($3.70) are the key players.

“He’s a lovely horse with a bit of everything and we thought he deserved his shot at this given his win at Kaikoura,” Rasmussen said.

Cruz Bromac is the Aussie TAB’s $5 equal second favourite for the December 15 final. Spankem is a $21 chance.

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