Since winning his first NZ Cup with Il Vicolo in 1995 Mark has trained starters alone or in partnership for all but three of the 28 Cups since and has won 8 or nearly one third of the races.  Some landmarks highlights and lowlights since that first triumph-then take a look at the overall stats. Well, Unbelievable !


1997: It was a little like what happens after the Lord Mayor’s show following  back to back wins with Il Vicolo when Mark presented the outstanding SHARP AND TELFORD for the 1997 renewal – and ran last. To be fair the horse went amiss during the race. Then followed a frustrating series of minor placings. BOGAN FELLA (twice) was placed 1999-2000  and JACK CADE filled the same role in 2003-4.YOUNG RUFUS, who seemed jinxed in the race, ran three successive 6th placings incurring various misfortunes.


In 2006 MIGHTY CULLEN ran 4th for Ian Dobson for Blair Orange while Mark was back 10th on IMAGINE THAT

2007 marked the first runner in the partnership between Mark and Grant Payne but with a disappointing result,CLASSIC CULLEN running 11th.For the next two years the stable did not have a runner in the race but in 2010 a new trend took shape with three runners SLEEPY TRIPP 3rd HIGHVIEW TOMMY 5th and OHOKA DALLAS among the beaten brigade

2011 was a watershed year though not in immediate results. Natalie had her first drive in the race behind VI ET ANIMO and while it was HIGHVIEW TOMMY  and Blair who flew the flag in 3rd placing it was a sign of things to come

2012 No winner again but this year began an era of dominance and the last year that Mark had a runner not in partnership.All Stars lined up no less than five horses  finishing 2nd (HIGHVIEW TOMMY) 3rd (SUSHI SUSHI) 5th (MAJOR MARK) 7th (FLY LIKE AN EAGLE) and AUCKLAND REACTOR which had a tough run and dropped out to 15th.Highview Tommy thus had his 3rd successive placing in a Cup without quite managing a win 

2013 may not look like a vintage year even though FLY LIKE AN EAGLE a brilliant horse but not regarded even in the stable a a great stayer,pushed Terror To Love close a superb training feat. It was the first year of the all-powerful Purdon/Rasmussen training partnership and two great racing minds combined were going to have a great impact

2014 At last! ADORE ME ends an 18 year search for a second individual Cup winner and in great style.She smashes the clocks with 3.54.6 nearly 10 seconds faster than Mainland Banner,the last mare to win the race in 2005 and 14 seconds faster than the fabulous pair ARMALIGHT and BONNIE’S CHANCE in the 1980’s. 2014 was also noticeable as the first drive in the Cup for All Stars for Tim Williams. He was only 12th and Natalie had to settle for 9th with Hands Christian a brave effort from one who fought his way back from serious injuries not once but twice

2015 -The stable were cheering for SMOLDA a great pacer who reserved his best in later years in Australia where he was a  machine.He ran 2nd this day but what a special beaten.Unusually he missed away and was at the tail of the field while now Australian Arden Rooney lazed away in front clocking over 2.03 for the first 1600m,ran home in 55,while Smolda had to run up wide from the back and sit parked from the 800.Even so he was closing at the line and while the winning driver was given a hefty fine for whip use,a repeat today must have seen a relegation.That’s racing. What a horse “Smo” was

2016– The LAZARUS era,probably enough said.It’s stunning to recall tho that he won by 10 lengths and yet ran a time yet to be bettered in the race. Also worth remembering that All Stars also ran third and fourth with TITAN BANNER and SMOLDA with HAVE FAITH IN ME,below par unplaced.

2017-All powerful Laz won again and paid a record low $1.40 making the $2 of the previous year look the bet of the decade. Notably Nathan  had a drive behind HAVE FAITH IN ME  and PICCADILLY PRINCESS  finished seventh for Natalie.Tragedy of the race was DREAM ABOUT ME being wiped out at the start and taking no part in the race

2018-Natalies well earned spotlight moment with THE FIXER ,perfectly prepared by her, running 3.53.9 given the run of the race behind the courageous DREAM ABOUT ME who led and was outfinished late,the now Australian based Tiger Tara hitting the front in the straight before being run down.Significantly Cruz Bromac given a quiet rails run by Mark was fourth ahead of Eamon Maguire so All Stars had four of the first five home. Not for the last time.

2019- All Stars ran the Quinella  with CRUZ BROMAC driven by Blair and SPANKEM for Natalie. Chase Auckland was 4th and Thefixer 5th. Five starters again and four of them in first 5

2020- One better for All Stars not long before they closed the doors for Covid getting both the Quinella and Trifecta ! Also a first for Jean Feiss a long time stable supporter -and it was almost an anti climax. There was not a lot of pressure in the race Natalie leading with SPANKEM, Mark trailing and ASHLEY LOCAZ third on the rail. After favourite Copy That blew the start there was not enough challenging material to upset.It was Mark’s 6th winning drive in the Cup one behind Ricky May

2021-2022 Covid struck and when it settled down Mark and Hayden Cullen went into partnership for the last two Cups. It didn’t alter the placed strike rate SELF ASSURED running 2nd to  Copy That in 2021 and SOUTH COAST ARDEN 3rd while SPANKEM was 3rd and Akuta 4th last year. 

2023-Nothing is certain but the new partnership of Mark and Nathan is in with a royal chance.

CUP TRAINING STATS (Mark as trainer or co-trainer) 


2NDS 8

3RDS 11

4THS 6

5THS 7


OF 56 STARTERS IN ALL ONLY 16 HAVE FAILED TO MAKE FIRST 5 (and may have done in other years)


(Mark as solo or in partnership )

*Mark has trained 8 winners two  more than James Bryce and Cecil Devine

*Mark has driven 6 winners equalling Cecil Devine though still one behind Ricky May

*Mark and Natalie trained  5 winners in  succession from 2016 giving the couple 6 wins in 7 years. Be a long winter’s night before that happens again.

*If Akuta wins the Cup Ian Dobson will have been the first owner whose colours have been carried to win the Cup with three different horses. In 118 years that would be some achievement


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