Chase Auckland clinches deserved NZ FFA win
By Jonny Turner
Patience was rewarded and the winner’s podium overflowed with happy owners when Chase Auckland sprinted to victory in the New Zealand Free-For-All at Addington yesterday.
Driver Tim Williams helped the All Stars pacer get group 1 rewards for his consistent spring when securing a perfect run in the trial that set up the 5yr-old’s win.
The win meant the Addington Birdcage was again flooded with jubilant owners as the large Alabar Racing Syndicate celebrated their pacer’s first win in an open class group 1 feature.
Syndicate manager, Ivan Behrnes, poured praise on Williams after the race and not just for his cool and calm drive.
The reinsman has been instrumental in helping Chase Auckland developing in to a genuine open class force, Behrnes said.
“He can be a bit of a handful, as you could see after the race, but he has been really in the zone in his races this season.”
“It is a credit to Tim, you can often see them just going around in the prelim on his own, keeping him relaxed.”
“They have really got a great combination since he has become his regular driver.”
A patient approach from his trainers has also been key to Chase Auckland developing from one-time age group star to top line Grand Circuit performer.
All Stars trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen did not rush the horse after he suffered a muscle problem that set his 4yr-old season back.
“Mark and Natalie kept saying be patient, he wasn’t ready for these kind of races last year, it was too soon for him,” Behrnes said.
“But this season he everything has gone perfectly and he has looked a picture.”
“He has had a fantastic build up, he has looked a picture and we were hopeful he could develop in to a stayer.”
“He has always had the speed, which you could see again today.”
Many expected Chase Auckland to blast off the arm and easily slot in to the trail behind the likely leader, Classie Brigade.
That was not the case when the newly relaxed Chase Auckland was too chilled out behind the mobile and did not display the blazing gate speed he has in the past.
“I was back off the gate - It’s the first time he has raced from behind the mobile this season,” Williams said.
“But it just shows how quick out the others were.”
Despite the early moves not playing out as expected, Chase Auckland and Williams still landed in the trail behind Classie Brigade.
In a complete turnaround in race fortunes from the New Zealand Cup, the breaks went Chase Auckland’s way when they went against his stablemates in the New Zealand Free-For-All.
Spankem was unable to take the lead from Classie Brigade and Cruz Bromac went roughly, losing a handy spot.
On Tuesday, Chase Auckland’s that copped the bad luck in Cruz Bromac’s New Zealand Cup.
The pacer was forced to make his run wide on the track after two of his rivals started stopping quickly in front of him.
The Auckland Reactor gelding charged home pacing the fastest closing 400m and 200m sectional times of the great 3200m race.
The Alabar Racing Syndicate were left wondering what might have been after having to settle for third placing.
“We were so disappointed on cup day, he was in a excellent spot and Tim drove him tremendously,” Behrnes said.
“He was ready to go today after running the fastest sectionals in the cup.”
“It was a huge thrill.”
Classie Brigade, who also came out of the New Zealand Cup with a hard luck story held second in the New Zealand Free-For-All, a length from Chase Auckland.
Cruz Bromac recovered from his early gallop to produce a huge performance to run third.