Oaks night review
NZ HARNESS NEWS
It’s been said before, on more than one occasion, but perhaps when they start muttering it on the other side of the Tasman this year, there might actually be some serious substance to it.
Because while there have been some serious Australian invites make their way over to the ‘Shaky Isles’ for the Harness Jewels, there hasn’t been one with quite the brilliance and x-factor of Shez All Rock.
The writing had been on the wall for a while. She was stunning winning the New South Wales Oaks and then equally as good winning the Victorian Oaks, but her demolition job in the New Zealand Oaks on Friday night was on a whole new level.
There were so many factors which combined should have meant she was unable to win the $150,000 Group One.
A recent arrival in New Zealand who has had to get accustomed to new surroundings and a different climate, even her new co-trainer and driver, Mark Purdon, had his reservations.
“I would have liked that little bit more time with her leading into it,” he said.
“But it turned out it didn’t matter, the way she felt around the bend and the speed she was going, I knew they probably weren’t going to beat her.”
If Purdon was concerned, he didn’t show it on the track - bursting to the lead from Elle Mac inside the 1000-metre mark and not looking back.
The only heart-in-the-mouth moment came about 960-metres later when she galloped for no reason just short of the winning post - when well clear of the field.
“I’m not quite sure what that was all about,” Purdon said.
Purchased on the advice of Purdon by former Kiwi, Chris Ryder who is now in America, Shez All Rock carried the green Australian Jewels colours to Group One success with a performance that could see her enlisted the new favourite for the three-year-old Diamond.
“You’d like to think she will improve off that too,” Purdon added.
Not only did she smash her opposition, but it needs to be remember who her rivals comprised of.
Multiple Group One winner Elle Mac was left paddling in her wake after working hard to get to the front with a lap left to run while Bettor Trix ran a bobby-dazzler to back up her Nevele R Fillies runner-up effort to finish third.
Also pleasing was the manner in which last year’s Jewels winner, Dizzy Miss Lizzy found the line, showing she’s getting back to it ahead of her title defense at Cambridge in a few weeks.
Her success was just another part of a typically outstanding night for Purdon and his training partner, Natalie Rasmussen.
They added another Sires’ Stakes Final for the male two-year-old pacers when Jesse Duke turned the tables on Another Masterpiece, outstaying his rivals in the $152,000 event.
His owner, Jean Feiss, went to an imposing $220,000 to secure him as a yearling at Karaka and he’s close to having earned that back for her with more than $193,000 in the bank after just six starts.
Even earlier in the night, the first feature race success of the night came courtesy of an epic 1000-metre struggle in the two-year-old trot.
Enhance Your Calm was the one who kept his unbeaten record in tact after looking on the bend like he was beaten by Oscar Bonavena and Matty Williamson, who had piled the pressure on for almost the entire last lap.
The pair broke clear of their rivals, and the Oamaru trotter drew three quarters of a length clear on the bend but Purdon played the patient game and nursed his big trotter before balancing him up and letting him find the line.
The race sets up an intriguing contest at Cambridge where the pair will be joined by the brilliant Tickle Me Pink.
- NZ Harness News