All Stars dominating market
By Michael Guerin
Natalie Rasmussen is happy to admit she was wrong.
Because being wrong might just win her next week’s $500,000 IRT Inter Dominion Pacing Final at Alexandra Park.
Driving an Inter Dominion winner would be nothing new for Rasmussen, she partnered Blacks A Fake to win four of them even before she joined partner Mark Purdon to set up their super stable.
That stable now dominates the market for the pacing final on Saturday week, with five of the six favourites, only series surprise package A G’s White Socks crashing their party.
But while the All Stars being favourites to win any big race is hardly a surprise both Rasmussen and Purdon were adamant just six days ago that Cruz Bromac was their best chance of winning the series.
Not any more.
“Yeah, the order has changed,” says Rasmussen.
“Not that Cruz has done anything wrong because he hasn’t but Sniper has really stepped up.
“We went into the series with a little question mark over how he would handle the right handed track but he has been perfect.
“And you find in a series like this some horses love it, they love the high pressure racing.
“He has been that horse in this series. When he won on Tuesday night once he got a head of steam up he just kept going.
“I think it has taken us until this stage of his campaign to get him really fit and to be honest I have a suspicion, with him being a rig, he might have been pinching himself a month or so ago when he was doing things wrong.
“But at the moment he is exactly where he needs to be.”
For most horses the second line barrier draw Ultimate Sniper faces in his 2700m mobile heat tomorrow night would be a market cooler but has has spent much of the series three wide so Rasmussen doesn’t bat an eyelid over giving away a start tomorrow night.
“He will probably go sit parked if he can’t get the lead and he will love it there.
“So he is now our top chance, as everybody has probably seen.” Ultimate Sniper is the $2.4 favourite to win the final and if he wins tomorrow night what barrier he draws on Sunday will determine whether he starts odds-on for the final.
The pacing series’s other unbeaten star A G’s White Socks also faces a second line draw in the later heat tomorrow but his task is enormously more difficult than Ultimate Sniper because Cruz Bromac (2) and Thefixer (4) are ideally drawn to control the race.
Thefixer has been luckless in both starts in the series but Rasmussen says that will be an advantage tomorrow night.
“He hasn’t had the hard runs some of the other horses have and he will be ready to do some work,” she says.
“He has hit the line really well both nights and he has to go close on Friday." The pacing final is probably two-thirds finalised with those sitting between 9th and 15th on the points table scrapping out the last spots in the 12-strong field, with the most market relevant horse on the cusp being Bling It On, who goes into tomorrow night 13th equal and needing to leapfrog a couple of rivals.
He should and will probably join My Kiwi Mate and San Carlo as the Australians in the final.
The trotting series is more even, with probably seven horses still given realistic winning chances in the $150,000 final on Saturday week.