NEW ZEALAND’S Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen took a major step towards claiming a slice of Inter Dominion history at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight.
No strangers to setting records, the duo are aiming to become the first trainers to complete a hat-trick of Inter Dominion wins with different horses.
While Rasmussen is one of three trainers to win the Championship on three consecutive occasions, the victories were with the same pacer.
Brian Hancock won with Our Sir Vancelot in 1997, ’98 and ’99, followed by Rasmussen with Blacks A Fake which was too good in 2006, ‘07 and ‘08.
The only pacer to win four Finals, Blacks A Fake finished a half-neck second in 2009 before regaining the title in 2010.
In his last Inter Dominion appearance, Blacks A Fake was third behind Smoken Up and Im Themightyquinn in 2011 before being elevated to second when Smoken Up was disqualified.
By being lifted from runner-up to winner, it was also the beginning of a hat-trick for Im Themightyquinn and trainer Gary Hall.
As it stands, Purdon and Rasmussen are just the second trainers to win consecutive Inter Dominions with separate horses since the series’ inception in 1936.
The pair were successful with Smolda in 2016 and Lazarus in 2017 when the Finals were conducted in Perth.
The late Bob Knight was the ground breaker, scoring with Our Maestro in 1988 and Jodie’s Babe in ‘89 .
As for their latest assault on the time honoured series, Purdon and Rasmussen annexed two of the three heats with their only two runners!
Rising star Spankem upstaged his more fancied rivals when he produced a strong performance to secure the opening qualifier with Rasmussen in the cart.
Settled midfield from barrier five, Spankem was sent forward to test the leader, My Alpha Rock, from the ‘death seat’.
Forging his way to the front at the top of the home straight, the son of Bettors Delight scored by three-and-a-half metres from Pats Delight, with Tiger Tara a head away third.
Rating 1:54.3 over 2240 metres, the four-year-old is believed to be the lightest-assessed Inter Dominion heat winner as a C1!
“He did a great job,” Rasmussen said. “He’s still a chubby little thing so the run will do him good.
“It is great to get an early win with him and he should be sharper again for the next round.”
Rasmussen then completed the double after Cruz Bromac worked to the lead from barrier four before accounting for Chash N Flow and Maximan in 1:53.8 to be the fastest heat winner of the night.
“Once he got to the front I didn’t think they would catch him,” Rasmussen said. “He did it quite well and will also benefit from the run.”