What an amazing feat; to win 7 races at a Premier Meeting, and from only 9 races they had representatives in. That was the remarkable achievement of the All Stars Stable team at Alexandra Park’s Auckland Cup Meeting, on the 31st December.
However, this was not the first time Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen had achieved this milestone, as back in 2009 they also won seven races on the Auckland Cup programme of that year.
This year the onslaught began right at the beginning, when their sole charge in a small field, A Lister, took out the Alabar Sires Stakes Fillies Silver, in the hands of stable driver Tim Williams, for Braeden and Caroline Whitelock, long-time clients of Breckon Farms.
In the very next race, the Breckon Farms Young Guns Series (Heat 2), the All Stars Stable were once again victorious, when Jesse Duke, a Yearling Sales topper when Jean Feiss purchased him in 2017 for $220,000, stamped his authority over his rivals with an impressive win, this time with Natalie Rasmussen doing the driving.
The winning streak continued, when Race 3 was taken out by Stress Factor, once again in the hands of Tim Williams. Stress Factor was bred by Breckon Farms and is raced by the Breckon Racing Syndicate, of course headed by farm principals Ken and Karen Breckon. It was his second win from as many starts since joining the All Stars team.
The next two races were not contested by the All Stars Stable, before in Race 6 they had a rare miss with two runners in Shenandoah (3rd placing) and Conway Beach (8th placing).
Then followed the prestigious Listed $224,250 PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales 3YO Final, a race won by some outstanding horses over the years, such as Il Vicolo, Christian Cullen, Courage Under Fire, Elsu, Changeover, Stunin Cullen, Gold Ace, etc, and also won by All Stars runners over the previous four occasions, with these winners being Isaiah, Have Faith In Me, Lazarus and Ultimate Machete.
The stable line-up in this year’s race was an impressive four runners, headed by the unbeaten Chase Auckland. He was sent out an odds-on hot favourite and duly obliged with a scintillating run in a good time of 2:38.3, being headed in the home straight and fighting back tenaciously to win by a slender neck margin, under the guidance of Natalie Rasmussen.
In an unprecedented feat, the All Stars Stable provided the trifecta for this race, with All U Need Is Faith and Spankem filling the minor placings.
Chase Auckland is owned by the inaugural Alabar Racing Syndicate, which is comprised of 50 shares and so is proving a tremendous advertisement for harness racing syndication, as so many people get to experience the thrill of winning.
In the very next race, the Group 1 Alabar Sires Stakes 3YO Fillies Championship, Natalie once again drove the Breckon Farms bred Elle Mac, who prevailed in fine fashion, notching up her third Group 1 win and making it 6-from-the-last-7 staging of this prestigious race that have been won by the stable. Amazingly, this is the third win in this race for Bill and Jean Feiss, who purchased Elle Mac from the 2016 Breckon Farms yearling draft for $51,000 and she has already handsomely rewarded them with 6 wins and $265,564 in stakes.
The next race, Race 9 on the card, was the only other that the All Stars Stable contested and didn’t win, with the Breckon Farms – The Top Ten Syndicate, 5-time Group 1 winning mare, Partyon being sent out as favourite but not receiving the best of runs to finish back in 6th placing.
The following race was another that was not contested by the All Stars Stable, but then came the feature race on the programme, the Group 1 $250,000 Trillian Trust 2017 Auckland Cup; probably providing the highlight amongst a galaxy of stars. The star performer was of course the winner, Vincent, also owned by the Feiss’. He justified his very short odds-on favouritism, with an emphatic win, scorching home in 54.4 seconds for the final 800m, to win by 1½ lengths from his stablemate Titan Banner, with another stable runner Heaven Rocks back in 3rd placing.
This stable trifecta was a new “first” for the All Stars team and with Vincent being driven by Natalie Rasmussen, she became the first female driver to win the Auckland Cup.
This win also meant that the All Stars Stable has produced the winners of the New Zealand Cup, Inter Dominion Championship and the Auckland Cup for the second year in succession, which is another first for the harness racing industry.
The last race on the programme was taken out by yet another All Stars runner, their sole representative in the field, Ashley Locaz. He was also sent out an odds-on favourite and won easily by a 4-length margin.
The All Stars Stable have done it before, and will probably do it again, but this feat has certainly drawn its fair share of superlatives to describe the accomplishment, remembering of course that top driver Mark Purdon was still suspended from driving so was watching from the sidelines. However, Natalie Rasmussen covered the situation well, winning all three feature pacing races in the sulky with another win to boot, while Tim Williams completed a treble in the bike.
Winning 7 of the 12 races on Alexandra Park’s biggest night of racing, and from only 9 races contested, is certainly a truly amazing achievement. CONGRATULATIONS to the All Stars Team !!!