Purdon pleased with NZ Cup favourite

NZ HARNESS NEWS

Trainer Mark Purdon has given glamour pacer Ultimate Machete the green light to return to the races and start his New Zealand Cup campaign.

The comeback pacer stopped the clock in his 2400-metre standing start heat at Tuesday’s Ashburton trials in a placid 3.08.7.

Ultimate Machete reeled off moderate sectionals, running his last 800m in 58.7sec and his last 400m in 28.1 when beating his stablemate, Spankem.

The five-year-old was having just his second public hit-out since running fourth in this year’s Freemantle Pacing Cup in Perth in January. 

Ultimate Machete put on a rodeo act when galloping for the first 100 metres of his first trial of the season at Ashburton last week.

But the Bettor’s Delight pacer put that display behind him with a much more polished performance on Wednesday.

“I was pleased with him, there were only three in it and he felt good and he felt sharper than last week,’’ Purdon, who trains the horse with Natalie Rasmussen, said.

“He behaved himself this time, too - it knocked that freshness out of him last week.

“He began nicely and did everything right.’’

The pleasing performance signalled to Purdon the horse was ready to take his first race-day step towards a New Zealand Cup tilt.

Ultimate Machete is likely to return to the races in the Gr. 2 Canterbury Classic on October 5 at Addington.

The pacer is showing no signs of the injury concerns that prematurely ended his four-year-old season after just seven starts, three of them bearing Group 1 spoils.

But the stress on Ultimate Machete’s legs from carrying his hulking frame is something the All Stars stable keeps a close eye on.

“He is such a big horse he has things to manage his joints, which you have to be mindful of.

“We are just going to have to space his races now and look after him.

“At the moment it is only the start of the season, so you don’t envisage too many problems going in to it.’’

The All Stars stable showed they are set to unleash a wave of spring horsepower at the races by winning six of the 11 heats at Tuesday’s trials.

Progressive four-year-old Turn It Up scorched up the Ashburton track with a 26-second final quarter when defeating another comeback pacer in Ashley Locaz.

Returning three-year-old Jack Jones recorded the same sizzling sectional in another 2400-metre heat win.

Anthem, All U Need Is Faith and The Moonshadow also scored wins in Purdon and Rasmussen’s famous colours.

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