Assured to go a long way

Assured to go a long way
Self Assured wins the TAB Queensland Derby

Has the next All Stars Stable superstar arrived? That is the question many are asking and most are answering in the positive.

Self Assured, now a 3-year-old colt, is by Bettor’s Delight out of Star Of Venus by Christian Cullen, did qualify as a 2-year-old, back on the 7th February 2018 at Rangiora, but only finished in 6th placing of 8-runners and a fair margin as well from the winner and stablemate War Dan Delight, with two other stablemates also finishing ahead of him.

It was to be over 15 months before he was to be seen at the races, after only making his debut as a late 3-year-old, on the 24th May this year at Addington, where he took out a 2600m Non-Winners Mobile, in a moderate 1:59.8 Mile Rate, in the hands of co-trainer Mark Purdon.

Self Assured has never looked back since, winning his second race start in New Zealand, at Ashburton on the 2nd June, in the hands of stable driver Tim Williams, this time stepping-up to win by 2½ lengths in a 1:58.5 Mile Rate over 2400m.

He was then to be aimed at winter racing in Queensland, Australia and from his humble race beginnings, he has gone on to win all of his four races in Queensland, to make it six wins from six race starts, the latest of which was the Group 1 $100,860 TAB Queensland Derby, last Saturday night (20th July).

After this sequence of wins, there are many who are touting him to be the next big thing in Australasian harness racing.

His Australian campaign also started on a very modest note, when he had a narrow half-head win over his stablemate Jesse Duke, in a 3CO or Better, 2680m race at Albion Park, on the 29th June, when once again driven by Mark Purdon.

He was to race next the following week (6th July), at the same venue, this time in the hands of Kylie Rasmussen (sister of co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen) and in a step-up in class, from an inside 2nd Row draw, took out the Group 3 $31,600 The J.C. McMullen Mobile Pace, over 2138m, in a good 1:54.5 Mile Rate, in what was a sign of things to come.

The following week (13th July), he took a further step-up, to contest the Group 3 $31,600 Egmont Park Stud South East Derby Mobile Pace, once again over 2138m and in the hands of Kylie Rasmussen. He again started off the 2nd Row, to sit back in the running line initially before working forward 3-wide to sit parked outside the favourite Lochinvar Art in the lead and just get up in a brave effort to win by a nose. The time was once again a good 1:54.1 Mile Rate, with very fast closing sectionals of 53.4 and 26.1 seconds.

Self Assured was then to line-up for his fourth race in as many weeks, but this time it was the main mission of his Queensland campaign, the Queensland Derby. He was to raise the bar again with what was to be his first Group 1 victory.

This time he had a handy draw and was sent out favourite for the race, getting out well for driver and co-trainer Mark Purdon to make the lead, but had to endure lots of pressure during the race, particularly when Lochinvar Art who first made a challenge for the lead in the home straight the first time, then Princess Tiffany had a brief dip down the back the first time, before Lochinvar Art came for another look with a lap-to-go. Lochinvar Art served it up to Self Assured yet again down the back straight the final time and actually got almost a length in front, completing that quarter in a sizzling 26.7 seconds, but Self Assured reclaimed the lead turning for home and ran away in the home straight to complete a sensational win. Once again, the closing sectionals were superb, completing the last 800m in 53.8 and the 400m in 27.1 seconds. Lochinvar Art held on for second, while Jesse Duke and Princess Tiffany (bred at Breckon Farms), both also trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, dead-heated for third.

The Mile Rate of 1:54.2, was a new track record for 2680m (overall time 3:10.2), eclipsing the previous best set by Let It Ride in winning the 2018 Blacks A Fake, when he was trained by ex-pat Kiwi Tim Butt and driven by New Zealand’s leading reinsman Dexter Dunn.

Self Assured’s rapid rise to fame has surprised even Mark Purdon, with him commenting after the race, “Probably as much the way he has handled the racing as anything else. I mean we knew he was good. But the way he has done it has been an eye opener. When the other horse put half a length on him in the back and I wasn’t really wanting to get into a fight for it at that stage he just came back to me as I wanted. They were running 26 second quarters and there was still a way to go. A lot of inexperienced horses would have wanted to pull in that situation. And earlier when Lochinvar Art, who is a smart pacer and went a big race, had a go with the whip cracking it didn’t faze him. He is a very, very good horse. I had decided to go to the front and stay there because if I had to sit parked it was going to be a big ask even for him. Once I pulled the ear plugs he found another gear.”

Regarding Self Assured immediate future, Mark said, “He should be back racing in the spring, maybe around October. He will have some tests on the way home at Matamata, though they should be pretty clear and just a precaution, and then we will give him about four weeks up there on the water walker as we have done with others. So, he won’t be out of work altogether at all. We will probably be aiming at the Cup meeting and I might throw in a nom for the Inter Dominions and see what develops.”

Colt Thirty One wins the Blacks a Fake
Colt Thirty One wins the Blacks a Fake

Another feature race on the night was the Grand Circuit race, the Group 1 $250,660 TAB Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship Mobile Pace, also run over 2680m. Local hero Colt Thirty One settled well back in the field and remained there until down the back the final time, when he advanced to be mid-pack, before coming 4-wide rounding the final turn to power down the outside for an emphatic win, in a new race and track record, the latter of course only being set in the previous race by Self Assured.

Colt Thirty One did however have to withstand a protest to take the win, but completed the 2680m in an amazing 1:53.7 Mile Rate.

Interestingly, the 2018 Queensland Derby was also won by a Kiwi-bred in Master Moonlite (3g Art Major / Miss Moonlite by Christian Cullen), whose dam was bred at Breckon Farms. He beat Colt Thirty One, a star of Saturday’s programme, when he took out the Blacks A Fake, Queensland’s biggest race.

Self Assured sold at the 2017 NZ Premier Yearling Sale, being bred and consigned by Reg Caldow and was purchased by Jean Feiss for $110,000, but has not been paid-up for the Breeders Crown, so will not be heading to Victoria with Jesse Duke (previously owned by Jean Feiss before being sold to Chris Ryder) and Princess Tiffany.

CONGRATULATIONS to Self Assured and his connections and GOOD LUCK to Jesse Duke and Princess Tiffany in Melbourne.

Rob Carr