Don't read too much into hotshot driver Natalie Rasmussen turning her back on Heaven Rocks for the $50,000 Lincoln Farms Franklin Cup at Alexandra Park tonight.

The co-trainer says the enigmatic star pacer is still the one to beat, even though she has jumped off him to drive Vincent.

The pair dominate betting on the 2700m standing start event as Alexandra Park's summer season goes up a notch with its first premier meeting of the season, while the track backs up with another meeting tomorrow night to cater for its huge Christmas bookings.

Rasmussen and Mark Purdon train Vincent and Heaven Rocks but a driver reshuffle was forced after Purdon was suspended for 26 days on Inter Dominion night last Friday.


Purdon would have driven Vincent, last season's best three-year-old, in his comeback race but with him sidelined Rasmussen felt compelled to. "It is a tricky situation with Mark out because there is a lot of pressure driving a horse like Vincent fresh up and I don't think it is fair to put that pressure on somebody else," she explained.

"He is ready to race and there to win but I think he is a false favourite and don't want him driven like a $2 chance because he probably isn't ready for that.

"Of course he can win because he is a very good horse but I think Heaven Rocks is our better chance because he was so good last Friday and should be even fitter.

"It is just a very tricky race for Vincent fresh up."

Heaven Rocks will be partnered by Tim Williams, who admits he hasn't had great success on the nutcase pacer before.

But he has been doing all the work with him in the north over the last two weeks.

Premier at the park

Expect: Improvement from Partyon (R7, No5) with the sliding blinds on.
Multi anchor: Chase Auckland (R6, No1) hasn't been beaten yet and that shouldn't change.
Trials stars: Sertorius (R4, No10): Beaten better rivals at the workouts last Sunday than he meets tonight.

Add in Jack's Legend back on his home track, the improving AG's White Socks and Titan Banner, now back with Purdon-Rasmussen, and tonight's race will be a huge pointer to what to expect in the Auckland Cup on December 31.

With Williams being in charge of the All Stars northern assault, he has been charged with getting Partyon's mind back on the job for tonight's group one $100,000 Rosslands Queen Of Hearts.

The multiple group one winner looked lazy when a fresh up fourth last Friday in a race where Bonnie Joan was outstanding but there has been good early money to suggest that result can be reversed tonight.

"She needed a bit of a sharpen up and she got that this week," said Williams.

"I worked her in block blinds this week to get her mind on the job and she sprinted up the straight well with Vincent in her work.

"She will race in sliding blinds on Friday and we expect her to improve a lot."

One horse who won't need to improve is the stable rep in the $50,000 Alabar Classic in Chase Auckland.

Owned by the race sponsors, the exciting three-year-old has barrier one and should remain unbeaten.

The three-year-old fillies clash in the $85,000 Peter Breckon Memorial looks far more even but Bettor Joy deserves favouritism after a mammoth win last Friday while the main trot sees the return of Speeding Spur.

Like Vincent in the Franklin Cup, Speeding Spur is good enough to win fresh up but he needs only one key rival getting an easy trip on the markers to be beaten.