Rising star Turn It Up confirmed his freak status when he romped to a front-running win in the Auckland Cup on Monday night.
The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained four-year-old joined some of the country’s greatest pacers as a winner of the Gr.1 feature at Alexandra Park.
And he made some of the champions on the honour roll look like they had taken an age to win the 3200m feature by doing it in just his ninth start.
Purdon admitted after the race even he did not know what heights the exciting Turn It Up could hit as his incredible career progressed.
“This guy has got a lot of potential, and I’m not sure where it will end.”
Purdon said the path to Auckland Cup glory started when Turn It Up ran second behind Cruz Bromac in the New Zealand Free-For-All.
That impressive effort in his seventh race not only showed the horse was up to the top level, but it helped his trainers choose between making a final acceptance for the Inter Dominions or heading to the Auckland Cup.
As usual, Purdon and Rasmussen’s judgement proved pinpoint.
“When he ran second in the Free-For-All it really impressed me,” Purdon said.
“From there, with the way Cruz Bromac went at the Inter Dominions, it sowed the seed.
“I always wanted to bring him up (to Auckland) because I always felt he was better this way around.”
Turn It Up showed a rare chink in his seemingly impenetrable armour with a slightly slow start to the Auckland Cup.
Purdon said it was just a case of the horse not being ready when the strands were released.
“He just wasn’t quite ready, but after that he was fine.”
Once he was pacing, Turn It Up was caught three wide on the first bend and Purdon opted to press forward.
When the four-year-old hit the front with 2800m to run, the race was effectively over for his opposition.
Only two rival drivers came with mid-race moves during the entire event.
Tony Herlihy sent Star Galleria forward with just over a lap to go and Blair Orange followed him around with Ashley Locaz.
Those manoeuvres would pay dividends as the pair were able to fight on for the placings as Turn It Up reeled off fast closing sectionals of 54.3 and 26.1 while never really looking threatened.
Star Galleria just grabbed second placing over Ashley Locaz by a head at the finish.
The surprise of the race came when Dream About Me could not capitalise on a dream run on the speed.
The star mare was unable to quicken from the trail and ran a battling sixth, beaten almost four lengths in what was her first defeat in nine races in Auckland.
That performance was one of the lows on a mixed night for the All Stars camp on Auckland Cup night.
Smooth Deal and Oscar Bonavena were beaten hot favourites early on before Ultimate Sniper won the New Zealand Sales Series 3YO Open Final with incredible ease with Rasmussen in the sulky.
She also drove Elle Mac to win the evening’s junior free-for-all.
– NZ Harness News