Perfect pacer to cement his status

NZ HARNESS NEWS

The perfect pacer can cap a perfect preparation with victory in the Trillian Trust Auckland Cup at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve.

Turn It Up will cement his status as New Zealand pacing’s latest freak show with victory in the Group One pacing feature.

The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained four-year-old warmed up for the 3200-metre test with a comfortable passing lane victory in the Franklin Cup two weeks ago.

The sight of Turn It Up effortlessly producing a 54.9sec last 800 metres to cruise to victory should be enough to have his rivals shaking in their boots.

But what Purdon felt during the running makes for even worse news for the connections of his 11 rivals.

Turn It Up is even better left-handed than the South Island way around.

“He doesn’t wear a pole right-handed, whereas left-handed he does,” Purdon said. “He drives better right-handed, it is always a concern when you take a horse that way around how they will handle it.

“But he handled it better and from that run you would probably say he will be better again.”

Turn It Up comes in to the Auckland Cup after a faultless preparation, beating up on inferior fields and handling his first taste of Group One racing admirably in the New Zealand Free-For-All.

He obviously has brilliant speed and stamina and his standing start manners complement those to make him a complete pacer.

“He has such good manners, he generally puts himself in it,” said Purdon.

Stablemate Dream About Me rates as the most serious rival and can claim one advantage over Turn It Up.

The Alexandra Park queen has been there and done that at the top level, including winning the Auckland Cup two years ago.

Dream About Me has scored two comprehensive wins in mares’ company at Auckland in recent weeks.

That may not look strong form for an Auckland Cup, but Purdon said the victories were crucial ahead of the six-year-old’s return to the top level.

“I think it has helped her confidence a bit, she has been just trying so hard but she has been just knocked off by something better on the day in those last few runs before coming up here.”

The Purdon-Rasmussen stable have five runners in the big race and the odds look seriously stacked against their rivals.

All U Need Is Faith, Sicario and Ashley Locaz are a more than handy back-up team to their headline stablemates.

The trio are evenly matched and whichever gets the better run should finish ahead of the other two.

If he was pressed to single out a third pick from his contingent, Purdon said he would opt for Ashley Locaz.

“If I had to favour one, Ashley Locaz has thrived since he has been up here and he has been strong in his work,” said Purdon.

Trainer Steven Reid has two of the biggest threats to the All Stars juggernaut.

Reid has been in a race against time to build Star Galleria back to peak fitness after the horse underwent throat surgery.

His two prep runs should have him close to peak fitness. Classy mare Utmost Delight deserves her shot at open Group One company and adds to Reid’s strong hand.

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