Rasmussen successfully back in the bike
By Michael Guerin - from HRNZ/NZ Herald
Even after two and a half months out of the race day sulky it was like Natalie Rasmussen hadn’t even taken a break at Addington on Wednesday.
Photo: Hayden Cullen with Natalie Rasmussen
And the punter’s princess has good news for her army of followers that she intends driving at most of the major meetings between now and the Jewels.
Rasmussen’s first drive since Cambridge on January 8 was a winning one with a perfect steer behind debutante Franco Mac to win the first heat of the Sires’ Stakes at the afternoon meeting.
Rasmussen let the son of Bettors Delight relax early, worked him off the fence and into the one-one and he was too good for brave stablemate Cosmic Major in a 1:57.5 mile rate for the 1980m.
It was Rasmussen’s 10th win of the season but she put a screaming halt on that tally when she stepped away from harness racing in the most part on New Year's Day as her and partner Mark Purdon try and enjoy life a bit more.
“We are having a great time,” admits Rasmussen.
“It is nice to have some time away from racing and of course we miss the horses because we both love horses.
“But after doing it for so long we don’t miss going to the races that much, not yet.
“We have been on some nice trips around the country and got really fit, which is important cause it is hard to stay in your best shape when you are so tired from working.
“I’m down to 54kgs so I could probably get a ride at Riccarton,” laughs Rasmussen.
The couple have been occasionally popping out to work for new trainer Hayden Cullen but in Rasmussen’s case that is only on Saturdays but her involvement on race day at least is set to increase.
““I am driving at Addington this Friday and we made that commitment to Hayden and the owners when we decided to take our break that we would help out more around the big carnivals."
“There are a lot of them between now and the Jewels so while I won’t be driving every week I’d say I will be at a lot of the carnivals.”
But after the Jewels the couple plan to to return to a nomadic lifestyle for at least the winter, tripping around the North Island in their new motor home.
After that, no decisions are made.
Rasmussen says Franco Mac’s win didn’t surprise her as he is a typical Bettors Delight, relaxed at home but capable of raising his game come race day.
“He is a lovely horse as are a few other Hayden has to line up yet so the juvenile team looks to be coming to hand nicely,” said Rasmussen.
Cullen also quinellaed the fillies Sires’ Stakes heat when A Bettor You and Tim Williams beat Rasmussen driving True Fantasy.
As for Friday night Rasmussen will drive Amazing Dream rather than he old mate Spankem in the open pace but says there is nothing between the trio’s chances.