Chase Auckland draws well

Drawing the ace means hopes are high ahead of Chase Auckland’s Chariots Of Fire tilt at Menangle on Saturday night.

The comeback pacer got a major leg-up over his main rivals when drawing barrier one in the A$200,000 Group 1 mile feature.

Australian favourite, Ignatius, who downed Chase Auckland at Menangle on Saturday night, has been stuck with barrier 9.

The second favourite, Poster Boy, has drawn beside his Australian counterpart in barrier 8.

The combination of Chase Auckland’s draw advantage and the hope that his master trainers, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, can have their pacer peaking on Saturday has his owners optimistic.

Syndicate manager Ivan Behrnes said a 30-strong contingent were set to invade Menangle on Saturday night to support their pacer.

Chase Auckland looked to have little excuse for being beaten by Ignatius in the Group 2 Paleface Adios last weekend.

Chase Auckland led on a comfortable 57sec first 800m, before Ignatius was able to sit parked outside him and beat him.

It is hoped that Chase Auckland can show improvement from that race, given it was just his third start in the past eleven months.

“Natalie was really happy and so was Mark,” Behrnes said.

“He has had a chequered preparation and as Mark said he lacks that really hard race fitness.

“He is improving on every start, he tried so hard on Saturday night, but it was just that lack of race-hardness that told in the last 50m.”

“He is racing horses that are more race-hardened and that is the challenge, can he get to that level this week.”

“Fingers crossed that Mark can do his magic.”

Chase Auckland’s start in the Chariots Of Fire will see him return to Group 1 racing for the first time since his victory in the Northern Derby at Alexandra Park in March.

Gate flyer Picard has drawn beside the Auckland Reactor gelding in barrier two.

That means Chase Auckland, with Rasmussen in the sulky, will have a big fight on his hands to hold the lead.

The Kevin Pizzuto-trained Picard looks a big chance of crossing his New Zealand rival at the start.

Chase Auckland is part of a four-strong New Zealand attack on the Menangle feature.

All U Need Is Faith was handed the best of the draws among Chase Auckland’s Kiwi counterparts in barrier four.

The All Stars pacer ran fourth behind Ignatius last weekend after getting a nice run in the one-one.

Ashley Locaz’s Chariots Of Fire stocks took a hit when he drew the outside of the front line.

The pacer ran a strong second to Picard in his last start in the Group 2 Hondo Grattan Stakes at Menangle when getting badly held up on the home turn.

The Paul Court-trained Hail Christian will start beside Ashley Locaz in 9 if the race’s two emergencies are scratched.

He ran third behind Picard and Ashley Locaz last time out.

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