Harness Jewels Blog 2018

Garrick Knight - NZ Harness News


Fresh Princess Tiffany too good in 2YO Diamond

The uncertainty of six weeks seemed a world away when Princess Tiffany trounced her opponents in the opening race on Jewels Day 2018.

In the hands of co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen, the brilliant filly proved far too good from a wide draw, winning comfortably by over five lengths.

It was a far cry from six weeks ago when the daughter of Bettor’s Delight was lame after standing on a nail on the night of her Group 1 Caduceus Club Classic win at Alexandra Park.

Her immediate racing future was uncertain, and it did cause a setback after an infection set in, but she quickly recovered to get her campaign back on track.

Rasmussen was contented post-race, the win backing up her assertions mid-week that the filly was ready to rumble.

“She’s a very good filly and travelled super throughout today.”

Co-owners Phil and Margaret Creighton, from Dunedin, were on course to enjoy the win and had double the reason to celebrate.

“We bred the third horse (Havtime), too, so it’s been a great result,” said Phil Creighton.

He says they made the trip north full of confidence after speaking to Rasmussen earlier in the week.

“Natalie said she’d grown another leg and was right in the zone.”

The Creightons race the hrose on lease with their good friends, Braeden and Caroline Whitelock, who bred Princess Tiffany.

“That relationship started when they bought a horse we bred, Dancing Diamonds, off us,” said Creighton.

There was a bit of carnage on the last lap when a hopple shortener on Fantasize (Todd MacFarlane) became entangled, causing her to gallop passing the half-mile.

In turn, Sezana, Gold Rocks and Kayla Marie were checked, the latter, in the hands of Mark Purdon, mounting an excellent recovery for fifth.


Race 2 - 2YO Ruby - Enhance Your Calm 

The All Stars stable, and favourite punters, went two-for-two when Enhance Your Calm soundly beat his rivals in the $125,000 2YO Ruby at Cambridge on Saturday.

Co-trainer Mark Purdon just had to sit and steer the big boy around the track after main opponents Oscar Bonavena and Tickle Me Pink made mid-race gallops, putting themselves out of commission.

He rolled home in 58.3 and 28.7 to win by four-and-a-half lengths, stopping the clock in a sedate 1.59.4.

His Victorian owners, Danny and Joanna Zavitsanos, were on course to enjoy the win – their fourth from four starts since buying the son of Majestic Son unraced out of Gavin Smith’s stable in February.

Purdon was in awe of his new trotting star, saying it’s been hard to place any fault on the horse.

“He’s just been so solid all the way through, which makes it easy on me.”

Purdon said he was unsure whether Enhance Your Calm would push on for an Australian campaign or be sent for a spell.

Southland visitor Full Noise (Brent Barclay) did everything right and capitalized on a trailing spot behind the winner to run second while Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen’s third-stringer, Cheerful (Tim Williams), made ground well for third after displaying perfect manners.

Outsider Doff Your Cap gave strength to the idea of an upset at the top of the straight, looming up to challenge Enhance Your Calm, but he eventually galloped and was disqualified from fifth.


Shez All Rock breaks Aussie Jewels drought

Those on course at the 2018 edition of the Harness Jewels at Cambridge were treated to something special in the 3YO Diamond when Australian filly Shez All Rock secured victory.

It was a brilliant front-running performance, one in which she stopped the clock at 1.51.9 with a five-length margin to her contemporaries.

Significantly, it signaled the end of an 11-year drought for Australians at the Harness Jewels.

Yes, she won in the name of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, but she wore the green colours of her homeland and will head back across the Tasman to former trainer Mark Pitt almost immediately.

Purdon, usually reserved, was in raptures post-race and gave the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven a significant rap.

“She was just beautiful today and it was just brilliant the way she did it today.

“She could have gone a second quicker if I asked her too.”

Purdon picked out Shez All Rock, the Victorian and New South Wales Oaks winner, for good friend Chris Ryder, a former Kiwi based in New Jersey who was on the lookout for a good horse.

She cost a pretty penny, but it looks cheap now after she won the New Zealand Oaks and now the Diamond in her first two starts since acquisition.

Could she be the buy of the decade?

“I think Mark (Pitt) was in a position where he wanted to buy a house and once he thought about it, figured it was better to have the money in the hand.

“Tony Parker once said money doesn’t go sore,” said Purdon with a chuckle.

Parker was the original co-owner of Auckland Reactor and sold him for in excess of $3 Million as a three-year-old.

Just as quickly as Purdon and an adoring New Zealand public fell in love with Shez All Rock, they will have to say goodbye – she’s off to Australia next week and, eventually, America.

“She’ll go back across to Mark now and contest the Vicbred and Breeders Crown before heading to America.”

Last year’s Diamond winner from this crop, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, put in arguably her best run of this season for second while the winner’s stablemate, Elle Mac, made ground for third after being three-wide for most of the race.


Habibi Inta takes Ruby

You have to bring your best manners to win a trotting race, especially at the Harness Jewels, and that rung true in the 4YO at Cambridge when hot favourite Enghien gave punters a blood nose.

The even-money favourite gave punters a scare when he galloped in the score-up, only to be saved by a false start when Australian visitor Dance Craze was adversely affected.

Driver Ricky May opted to go to the outside for the re-run, but the horse ‘sold the farm’ once again, spoiling his chances.

Second favourite Habibi Inta was the benefactor, receiving an uninterrupted run in the lead position for driver Blair Orange.

He held nicely in the run to the line, stopping the clock in 1.56.5 from a gallant Izmok, who trailed, and an unlucky Dance Craze, who flashed home for third after being held up.

Master trainer of trotters, Paul Nairn, prepares Habibi Inta and says a lot of the credit has to go to Orange for the horse’s resurgence this season after a flat three-year-old campaign.

“He was just sort of goofing around last season and wasn’t really trying too hard.

“But Blair has never knocked him around and has always looked after the horse.

“It’s paid dividends today; I’m over the moon, this is fantastic.”

Even when Enghien galloped, Nairn wasn’t too confident, despite his horse drawing one and having won its last three in a row.

“Im not a person that gets really confident. I always worry about this and that.

“But the horse was generally eating well and seemed well, so I was hoping for the best.”


Kennards on the board post-Lazarus

They say the best way to get over an ex is to find a new one and it’s a philosophy Phil and Glenys Kennard have had to adopt recently.

Less than a month after the bittersweet sale of their champion pacer Lazarus, the Kennards were back in the Group 1 winner’s circle at the Harness Jewels in Cambridge on Saturday.

Another Masterpiece, driven by Tim Williams, won a stirring stretch battle over stablemate Jesse Duke and Australian raider Petes Big Jim to win the $150,000 2YO Emerald.

The Kennards were on hand with fellow owners Jim and Anne Gibbs, Gary and Keryn Woodham and Ken and Karen Breckon to share in the success.

“It’s a relatively new group – we all race Spankem and The Devils Own together.

“It’s a good group and a very social group, I must say!”

Another Masterpiece was strong in the market all week but had seemingly fallen behind Jesse Duke for outright favouritism after getting beaten by him last time out at Addington.

But the owners hadn’t lost confidence, even though the horse has continued to surprise them.

“He’s a lot better than we probably thought he was, really.”

“To burn so hard at the start and still find the strength to win was a great effort.

“Perhaps that little breather he got for 150 metres down the straight a lap out was the winning of the race.

“He’s never put in a bad run, this horse.

“He’s always been quick out of the gate and we’ve never been scared to use him – he’s drawn four in his last three starts and drew five today.

“We were nervous when the Aussie horse drew one – we didn’t really think she’d ever give up the lead.

“But our horse was never going back, we had to go forward in a race like this.”

Williams is no stranger to big-race success, mainly through the deeds of former star three-year-old Have Faith In Me.

He’s forged a good association with Another Masterpiece, the combination never finishing further back than third in all seven career starts.

“He was doing his best work in the last fifty or sixty metres,” said the soon-to-be father.

“But that’s the kind of horse he is; he always gives his best.”

Sydney pacer Petes Big Jim emerged from obscurity just a month ago to run a brave second in the hands of co-trainer Lauren Tritton, who has had the horse for less than three weeks with her husband, Shane.

“He’s gone super; we’ve only had him three weeks and that’s probably counted against us in the finish,” she said.

“It took a while for me to make my mind about handing up to the winner.

“But I looked over and didn’t think he was mentally strong enough to cope with being attacked by the parked horse, then the 3-wide horse.”

She was happy she did as they entered the straight.

“He was absolutely jogging and I thought I had it, but he just got a bit lost in the sprint lane -  we don’t have one back home and he wasn’t really sure what it was all about.”

Despite the disappointing performance of Platinum Revolution in the 2YO, Tritton said they were heading home happy with their Jewels excursion.

“We are over the moon with how Petes Big Jim has gone and the filly will come back better next year – she’ll learn a lot from this.

Jesse Duke held on for third from $98 shot Make Way, who ran out of his skin to boost the first 4 for punters.

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