Private workout could be the key
By Michael Guerin
A private track work session with up to 20 big names involved has got Natalie Rasmussen suggesting a few horses to watch at Addington tonight.
With partner Mark Purdon suspended Rasmussen takes the reins behind some of the best winning chances at Addington’s mega meeting tonight for trainer Hayden Cullen, who has been excelling since taking over the former All Stars barn in January.
Rasmussen and Purdon have been involved as stable workers a few days a week lately and that included heading to Addington on Wednesday after poor weather in Canterbury left the training tracks at home soaked.
While Bettor Twist will be Cullen’s best winning chance tonight with Rasmussen in the sulky, she said a few others impressed her enough to suggest they can win on Friday.
“I tell you a horse who worked well and he actually worked with Bettor Twist was Oscar Bonavena,” says Rasmussen.
“He strode out really well in the straight on Wednesday and I think in the small field this week he can be driven cold and sprint well. So I think he might go better this week.”
Shan Noble is another who Rasmussen worked on Wednesday and expects to be hard to beat on Friday night as he resumes against stablemate Pace N Pride.
“They are both going well but the draw suggests Shan Noble is Hayden’s best chance of that pair,” she offers.
Rasmussen will have an interesting catch drive tonight in the Brent Mangos-trained South Coast Arden who was heavily backed yesterday from $4.40 opening quote into $2.30 last night and he threatens to wrest favouritism off the Cullen-trained Chase Auckland.
“It is going to be really hard for Chase Auckland fresh up even though he is the best horse in the race,” says Rasmussen.
“We have a lot of experience of horses coming back after long breaks and it is hard for them to win in their first few starts back.
“Whereas the horse I am driving (South Coast Arden) has been staying at the stables and since I am driving him on Friday for Brent I drove him on Wednesday.
“He is a really nice horse and I think he will be hard to beat.”
But it is the $200,000 Harness Million for the two-year-old male pacers in which Rasmussen admits she doesn’t really know what to expect even though she knows many of the key contenders well.
Rasmussen drives Franco Mac, who has the advantage of the ace draw and could end up following either stablemate Akuta or even northerner Montana D J.
“It is so hard to work out this early in the season but I think maybe Akuta and Cosmic Major are the best of the two-year-olds right at the moment,” says Rasmussen.
“But a horse like mine (Franco Mac) or Bollinger following him could surprise on the markers getting the soft run.”