History making clash awaits in Invercargill Cup

By Jonny Turner

The All Stars stable has touched down in Invercargill and all signs point to them making a big impact in Southland’s first-ever Group 1 race.

The Mark Purdon and Hayden Cullen stable have a huge hand to play in the Group 1 Invercargill Cup with their open class stars Self Assured and Spankem.

Having competed successfully at every harness racing carnival in Australasia that matters, Mark Purdon is looking forward to being a part of Southland’s history-making day.

“Absolutely – it has been a while since I have been down here,” Purdon said.

“I have always enjoyed coming down in the past and the hospitality here is the best in the world.”

With years of campaigning at the top level, Self Assured and Spankem handled their long float ride from Rolleston to Invercargill well.

“Really good – they both seem bright and ready for the big event,” Purdon said.

Though beaten by the early Invercargill Cup favourite B D Joe in their last outings, Self Assured could hardly have been more impressive in his last start second at Addington.

After sitting parked on a hot speed, the pacer went down fighting in a superb effort.

Having progressed well since then, the New Zealand and Auckland Cup winner is peaking again as another 3200m test at Group One level looms.

“I am really happy with his training, on Thursday we gave him a run along and he trained really nice,” Purdon said.

Though not regarded as a hardy stayer, Spankem heads into the Invercargill Cup having placed in five Auckland and New Zealand Cups.

And the pacer gets a significant advantage that might help him break his maiden at the 3200m distance – Saturday’s smaller field size.

“It is not a full field, so you would think if he had the last run at them he would be running past most of them.”

B D Joe comprehensively beat Self Assured and Spankem in their last meeting, coming from behind both to do so.

On Saturday, the Steve and Amanda Telfer trained pacer gets a 10m head-start on the two 20m back-markers.

Though he wouldn’t like to swap those handicaps, Steve Telfer knows they are only one factor in the race.

“It is nice to have that handicap advantage but there is still the rest of the field out there,” Telfer said.

“It is not going to be straightforward, a lot will depend on how the race pans out and that sort of thing.”

The Telfer barn has been thrilled with B D Joe’s work since his last start win in the Summer Free-For-All at Addington.

“Our horse is very well, the team has been very happy with his work and I am sure he will go a good race.”

Like his rivals, B D Joe arrived in Southland on Friday ahead of Saturday’s history-making meeting.

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