Kiwis cook up success for Australian pacer

Owner of Cruz Bromac Danny Zavitsanos lifts the New Zealand Cup yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
Owner of Cruz Bromac Danny Zavitsanos lifts the New Zealand Cup yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
Cheers of ''Aussie, Aussie, Aussie'' rang out from the Addington birdcage after New Zealand's leading horsepeople combined with Australian-owned pacer Cruz Bromac to win the New Zealand Cup yesterday.

Cruz Bromac was an all-Australian pacer just a month before the two-mile group 1 feature before his preparation was handed over to champion Rolleston trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen.

The All Stars stable's recipe for New Zealand Cup success was completed when they engaged New Zealand's record-breaking reinsman, Blair Orange, who produced a perfectly timed run to win the country's greatest race in his first drive behind the horse.

Though Cruz Bromac will go down in the New Zealand Cup history books as a New Zealand-trained pacer, part-owner Danny Zavitsanos left no uncertainty among the big Addington crowd that the New Zealand Cup was headed to Melbourne with him.

Cruz Bromac's victory delivered redemption for his group of owners following his effort for fourth in the race last year.

The 9yr-old, bred by the late breeding giant Bob McArdle, paced roughly at a vital stage of last year's race, denying himself any chance of victory.

''Last year he was unlucky; I really thought the horse should have won or been right in the photo. But this year he is a year older, a year wiser, everything just came to plan.

Cruz Bromac and driver Blair Orange beat Spankem and Mark Purdon to win the New Zealand Cup yesterday. Photo: Race Images
Cruz Bromac and driver Blair Orange beat Spankem and Mark Purdon to win the New Zealand Cup yesterday. Photo: Race Images
''What can I say? I am lost for words.''

Purdon and Rasmussen's masterful training ability was on show when Cruz Bromac paced perfectly throughout yesterday's race.

That was far from the case when the horse galloped wildly in a vital lead-up race, the Ashburton Flying Stakes.

They set about ironing out the often tricky pacer's wild tendencies.

''He hadn't been with us long before he raced at Ashburton. With the extra time we had with him after that, we worked on getting him right,'' Purdon said.

''I think the key to it was that he was on the inside, because he tends to go roughly the wider he goes.

''It was a great drive from Blair.''

Purdon cemented his place in harness racing history with a seventh New Zealand Cup training win, five of them in partnership with Rasmussen.

Orange produced a patient drive behind Cruz Bromac to add a New Zealand Cup title to his glittering harness racing record.

He had not even sat in a sulky behind the horse until three days before yesterday's race.

A trip to the All Stars Rolleston stable for one of the horse's final training runs was his only contact with Cruz Bromac before their win.

''It is just incredible. It is what dreams are made of,'' Orange said.

Cruz Bromac wore down his stablemate, Spankem, to win after the favourite appeared to have every chance to win the race with Purdon in the sulky.

''He had his chance, but the distance just isn't ideal for him,'' the trainer-driver said.

The hard luck story of the New Zealand Cup came from the camp of third-placed Classie Brigade.

Driver John Dunn was desperately searching for clear room for the pacer trained by his father, Robert, for much of the run home after they ran into a pocket behind the leaders.

Classie Brigade got out when Cruz Bromac had the race won to narrowly take third from another All Stars pacer in Chase Auckland.

The defending champions, Thefixer with Rasmussen in the sulky, battled into fifth.

Australian horses did not have to combine with New Zealand trainers to win yesterday's New Zealand Trotting Free For All.

Victorian Raider Tough Monarch held out McLovin to win the group 1 feature in an all-Australian-trained and finish.

Expat New Zealand reinsman Anthony Butt, who is based in Sydney, almost missed the winning drive behind Tough Monarch because of flight delays.

He arrived in Christchurch just minutes before the race and changed into his driving gear in the back of a car as his mother, Jenny, drove him from the airport to the track.

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