The dominant force in Australasian harness racing will cease to exist at the conclusion of 2020 with champion trainer-drivers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen set to step away from the sport.
The star duo, who are the sport’s power couple and operate New Zealand’s All Star Racing stable, released a letter to their owners on Sunday confirming the decision.
They will take a 12-month break from the sport before reevaluating their situation however it’s unlikely they will ever return to operate a stable of the same size at Rolleston near Christchurch.
“The success we have enjoyed has taken many years of hard work and dedication to the task without any significant holidays or breaks in our chase for success for our owners, horses and All Star Stables amassing nearly 70 years working, training and driving,” the letter read.
“Accordingly we both have made the decision to take a career break to rest and rejuvenate while considering what the next path in our career in harness racing will take.
“Our sabbatical will commence on January 1 2021 and will be at least of 12 months duration.”
The decision comes less than a week after the stable trained the trifecta of the Purdon-piloted Self Assured beat Spankem and Ashley Locaz in the Group 1 New Zealand Trotting Cup.
Purdon and Rasmussen have trained six of the last seven Cup winners but the stable has continually had success on both sides of the Tasman.
The stable has dominated on the biggest stages in Australia with Group 1 stars Lazarus, Smolda, Have Faith In Me and Pride Of Petite just a few of the horses to make an impact on our shores.
Both have made the Inter Dominion their own as a trainers and a drivers with Rasmussen winning the race four times with Blacks A Fake before moving to New Zealand to join forces with Purdon.
All Stars trained over 2300 winners with over $58 million in prizemoney since its began in 1995 with 889 of those victories coming since Purdon and Rasmussen’s partnership began six years ago.
Hayden and Amanda Cullen will take over operating the stable, which will become known as Cullen Racing Stables.
Purdon will continue to assist owners through the purchasing of talent to send to the Cullen’s while he is also expected to keep his driver’s licence to compete at bigger meetings.