A compelling $30,000 Summer Cup headlines the first night of Auckland’s annual Christmas carnival at Alexandra Park on Friday evening.
The All Stars stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have rolled in to town and their trio of Cup contenders opened as the first three favorites with bookies.
All U Need Is Faith, a tough winner on New Zealand Cup day, is the $2.50 favorite and is the driving elect of Purdon.
Rasmussen is in Melbourne for the Inter Dominions, so Tim Williams and Scott Phelan will handle Ashley Locaz and Sicario respectively.
Purdon was reticent to select one of his charges as a better chance than the others, the relative lottery of the 2200-metre standing start keeping him, and likely punters guessing.
“There is not much between them and the run of the race usually decides the outcome,” he said on the stable’s website.
“It’s hard to pick among them, in condition they have all done well.
“It’s quite an interesting race with Jack’s Legend in there, so the outcome is not easy to pick.”
Purdon and his team are staying with his brother Barry in Clevedon, and the latter himself has three strong chances in Jack’s Legend, Mach Shard and the progressive On The Cards.
“I’m pleased with all of them,” said Barry.
“It won’t be easy for Jack’s Legend, being 20 behind and having a full field in front of him, but I’m happy with where he’s at.”
The veteran, Lets Elope, is also back on 20 metres, but his form has been hard to fault this season.
And who could forget Northview Hustler’s excellent front-running Spring Cup win over the same distance, where he flew the stand off 10 metres and was in front within half a lap.
He rushed home with purpose over the sprint trip last time and trainer Ray Green is optimistic the best version of his horse could cause an upset at a $21 quote.
“If he got the right sort of trip it wouldn’t surprise me if he was there at the finish,” he said.
“I know the Purdon horses are in there but he showed with the times he ran last week he’s capable of making them do it.”
The undercard is light on numbers but not on talent, last season’s champion filly Princess Tiffany making a racetrack return as well as Jewels winners Utmost Delight and Another Masterpiece.