Rest assured gun Kiwi youngster facing real battle

He is the most exciting horse in the game, but young gun Self Assured faces his biggest test so far in Saturday night’s Group 1 Ballarat Cup.

It will be the Kiwi star’s first Victorian start and he’s drawn awkwardly inside the back row (gate eight). He quickly eased from $2.50 opening odds with TAB to $2.60.

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Self Assured only had his first start nine months ago, but posted his eighth win at just his 10th start beating some of the sport’s best horses in the Group 1 Auckland Cup on New Year’s Eve.

Mark Purdon trains and drives Self Assured in his quest for a fifth successive Ballarat Cup. He’s also $5 shot Chase Auckland race, with Natalie Rasmussen to drive from gate five. Purdon trained Smolda to win in 2016 & 17, then Heaven Rocks in 2019 and Thefixer last year.

Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen will have two runners from the All Star stable competing in the Ballarat Cup.Source:Getty Images

Australia’s top trainer Emma Stewart has a staggering four runners in her hometown Cup — Tam Major (gate one, $15), The Storm Inside (two, $6), Demon Delight (six, $18) and Phoenix Prince (nine, $13) — along with the emergency Somewhere Secret (gate three, $71).

Phoenix Prince has been a revelation winning the Geelong, Cranbourne and Shepparton Cups as well as a big second in the Bendigo Cup, but it’s emerging star The Storm Inside who looks Stewart’s best hope from gate two.

Self Assured (outside) wins at Albion Park last year. Picture: Dan CostelloSource:Supplied

“It’s fantastic to have such a strong hand in hour hometown Cup and they’re all at the top of their game,” she said. “Just put a line through The Storm Inside’s Bendigo Cup run, everything went wrong and he’s right back to his best for this one.”

Another Kiwi, AG’s White Socks, a dual Inter Dominion heat winner and fifth in the final, has been heavily backed early with TAB, firming from $5 to $4.60. Many think he’s the leader.

Brilliant last-start Bendigo Cup winner Code Bailey, part-owned by AFL star Lewis Taylor and Darcy Gardiner, has also attracted early support ($15 to $11 with TAB) despite drawing the back row (gate 10).

BALLARAT CUP DRAW

Front row

1. Tam Major $15

2. The Storm Inside $6

3. Somewhere Secret (emerg, $71)

4. AG’s White Socks $4.60

5. Chase Auckland $5

6. Demon Delight $18

7. Idealsomemagic $101

Back row

8. Self Assured $2.60

9. Phoenix Prince $13

10. Code Bailey $15

11. Our Uncle Sam $21

12. Rackemup Tigerpie $151

13. My Field Marshal $21

(Odds: TAB)

Tornado Valley will take part in the Cochran Trotters’ Cup on the Ballarat Cup program.Source:Supplied

PURDON: ‘WE LOVE GETTING BACK TO NEW ZEALAND’

New Zealand’s two most exciting horses headline the Kiwi raid on Victoria’s $2 million Summer of Glory Carnival.

The All Stars’ juggernaut, driven by co-trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, has romped through the major races at home and is headed our way with a team of horses, including the untapped pacer Self Assured and buzz trotter Oscar Bonavena.

Self Assured, a four-year-old who only had his first start nine months ago, won the Group 1 Auckland Cup at his 10th start and is widely-regarded as the sport’s next big thing.

While Oscar Bonavena, also a four-year-old and winner of 12 of his 17 starts, has been openly declared the best trotter he’s trained by Purdon. Remember he’s put the polish of Inter Dominion winning greats Pride Of Petite, Buster Hanover and I Can Doosit.

The All Stars are also bringing Victoria Derby favourite Smooth Deal.

“We’ve got a terrific team of horses and we love getting back to Victoria where we’ve had so much luck and won so many big races over the years,” Purdon said.

Victoria’s two leading stables, Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin, along with Andy Gath, are all that potentially stand in the way of the All Stars’ barn stunning dominance rolling on to Australia.

Stewart and Tonkin have a batch of open-class players, headed by the immensely talented Ride High, beaten just once in his 11 starts. They also train Australia’s top Victoria Derby hope Be Happy Mach and several Victoria Oaks player Maajida.

Gath trains Australia’s two best trotters, Tornado Valley and McLovin, who will lock horns with Oscar Bonavena.

“He looks pretty special Oscar, but I’m not afraid of him,” Gath said. “You relish the chance to race the best, that’s what we’re in the game for.

“Tornado Valley is the best I’ve had him since he won the Inter Dominion 13 months ago, while McLovin is over his issues and absolutely raring to go. Oscar may be too good for us, but we’ve got the home ground and both horses at their very top.”

The three-night Summer of Glory kicks-off with the Group 1 Ballarat Cup on Saturday where Victorians will get their first glimpse of Self Assured at what looks his biggest rest so far against a powerhouse field.

The Ballarat card also features Tornado Valley in the Cochran Trotters’ Cup, along with heats of the Victoria Derby and Oaks.

It all culminates with the massive Group 1 double, Hunter Cup and Great Southern Star, at Melton on February 1.

Originally published asRest assured gun Kiwi youngster facing real battle

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