News & Events

Key Jewels preludes at Alexandra Park

By Michael Guerin.

Champion trainer Mark Purdon says punters can back his dream team of nine at Alexandra Park tomorrow night even though he is aiming eight days ahead.

Purdon will start nine Harness Jewels contenders at tomorrow’s meeting where the stakes pale in comparison with the group one goodies they will chase at Cambridge on Saturday week.

Horses are often vulnerable when starting in low-stake races that effectively mean little to their connections just a week before their biggest races of the season, as their trainers might still want them to win but know that the real target is still a week away so don’t have them screwed down. And while Purdon has some minor reservations about a couple of his reps tonight, he thinks most are ready to show their best.

“It is tricky because I want them to win but you don’t want them to have real gutbusters this close to the Jewels,” says Purdon.

“But they are all good horses and can win without any bad luck so I think you will see the best of most of them.”

One horse Purdon does urge punters not to get carried away with is leading three-year-old trotter Escapee, who meets some open class rivals, albeit with a healthy start, in race seven.

Escapee is the clear Jewels favourite after a $10,000 bet yesterday,  but faces a 10m handicap tonight in a rare standing start outing and has last-start Rowe Cup runners Sno’s Big Boy and Great Getaway just 25m behind her, ready to punish any indiscretions.

“On class maybe she can still win but if she was slow it would make it really hard in a field that good,” said Purdon.

He also thinks Border Control will be a run short of his absolute peak in race 12 but hopes his class will help him sneak through.

Purdon will dominate the rest of the night, with Smolda (race eight) and Southwind Arden (race 10) racing in superb form and having a class edge on their rivals.

“Southwind Arden is going great and is a really good stayer, while Smolda is all class.”

Smolda does meet fellow group one winners this season in Texican and Fly Like An Eagle but is drawn inside that pair and it will surprise if Purdon doesn’t try to dominate the race from the front, sending an important pre-Jewels message.

Stent returns to standing start racing in race five where the winner should be whoever behaves best of out he and Lotalov.

An interesting clash comes earlier in the night when the Purdon juvenile pair of Saratoga and Paramount Queen take on older trotters in race two. Saratoga was a stunning last start winner but Purdon says Paramount Queen has worked well this week and he opts for her as slightly the better bet of the two.

“There isn’t much between them but the way she is working she will go close.”

Meanwhile, the crucial draws for the Jewels will be streamed live on www.hrnz.co.nz from noon Friday, with the TAB markets to close this morning and re-open as final field options around 1pm on Sunday.