There is no hesitation when you ask champion trainer Mark Purdon the best of his six pacing hopes in the Inter Dominions which begin at Alexandra Park tonight.

"Cruz Bromac, definitely," says Purdon.

It is a quick, blunt, telling call from the training phenomenon who has trained seven Inter Dominion winners over both gaits.

His assessment is echoed by training partner Natalie Rasmussen, a pretty glowing second opinion considering Rasmussen-trained Blacks A Fake, who won four Inter pacing finals in a row.


Between them they have driven 10 grand final winners and know barrier draws, how horses handle the four races in two weeks and plain dumb luck can all be deciding Interdom factors.

But even knowing that and with Thefixer, Chase Auckland and Ultimate Sniper also in their team, Purdon and Rasmussen opt for Cruz Bromac, who they get to train for only a few months every summer.

"I think he is in the zone and he has actually improved since Cup Week," says Purdon.

"He showed last season he will handle the series and we think he will be better right-handed.

"He races with some gear on and hangs in left-handed but he won't need that extra gear up here [in Auckland]. And before he rejoined us last month, he was doing most of his work in Victoria right-handed.

"We have a really good team this series without a Lazarus-type standout but he is our best chance."

That doesn't, however, mean he is the All Stars best winning chance on opening night as Cruz Bromac faces a second line draw and having to move mid-race while the other favourites are likely to get more economical trips on the markers in a spunky second heat.

"I think with the bigger fields now we can't afford to sit back, not at Alexandra Park so he will have to move which won't make it easy on him this week."


So Purdon opts for Chase Auckland, with an ideal draw in the easier pacing heat as his best Inter hope tonight even though Ultimate Sniper is the favourite.

"I think Chase Auckland has the gate speed to go forward and I don't think there is anything there Tim [Williams] would want to hand up to."

That includes Ultimate Sniper, who was crushing at Addington last start but Purdon admits is not quite as potent right-handed.

"He can still win, no doubt, but I think to be as dominant he would need to lead or be parked and I don't think he will get out of gate quick enough to lead.

"So Chase Auckland has a lot of things in his favour this week and he is probably our best chance on Friday and then Cruz."

Ultimate Sniper might still be able to do things the hard way to win and Thefixer's chances could be dictated by what unfolds in front of him but Purdon admits he has not been in love with Thefixer's recent track work.

Ashley Locaz is a big improver who could be the smokey tonight.

The stable also has high-class but frustrating trotter Winterfell.

"He has been working great and he can win but he has tricks, and seems to find new tricks once we work out his other tricks. So it is hard to be confident with him."

Return of Interdoms

• The Interdoms return to Alexandra Park for the first time in eight years tonight.

• There are two pacing and two trotting heats.

• *The series continues next Tuesday with the final round of heats next Friday.

• The $500,000 Pacing Final and $150,000 Trotting Final are on December 14.