News & Events

Sushi Sushi Purdon's best NZ Cup hope following Kaikoura

By Michael Guerin

Training genius Mark Purdon is declaring Sushi Sushi his best New Zealand Cup chance as he prepares to provide a third of the field for the great race. Purdon  produced the trifecta in yesterday’s $50,000 Kaikoura Cup, with Sushi Sushi beating Major Mark and Fly Like An Eagle in the second fastest 2400m standing start ever paced in New Zealand.

While Sushi Sushi was already guaranteed a New Zealand Cup start, Major Mark will now make the field while Fly Like An Eagle’s enormous performance to come from last convinced Purdon he should be in the $600,000 Cup a fortnight today. That trio will join Auckland Reactor and Highview Tommy in our greatest race, giving Purdon the strongest numerical New Zealand Cup hand in history.

And while he acknowledges both Auckland Reactor and Fly Like An Eagle have as much ability - or more - than Sushi Sushi, he says the former Aussie pacer’s manners make him his best Cup hope.

“The other two can both be a little iffy from the stand whereas Sushi is getting better with every start manners-wise,” said Purdon.

“I can see him putting himself into the race and now he is settling better he has a good chance, although obviously it will be hard to beat Terror To Love.”

Fly Like An Eagle was the real eye catcher yesterday after his early gallop, which actually left Purdon feeling better about his manners.

“Even though he missed away he is starting to feel more comfortable behind the tapes and I think he will get the hang of it soon.

“I will take him to the Cup trials next week and give him another go but on his performance today he deserves a shot at the race.

“And so too does Major Mark, he was very brave and that should get him into the field.”

Fly Like An Eagle’s confirmation as a Cup starter means Purdon will need to find him a driver, with most of his regular catch drivers committed. Purdon himself will partner Auckland Reactor, who is recovering well from his coronet injury and will race at Addington on Friday night.

“He is getting better all the time and we are back on track with him,” said Purdon.

While Purdon’s Cup assault sharpened yesterday, trainer Tim Butt’s dulled, with Choise Achiever very poor and suspected of having a lung infection. This year’s Hunter Cup winner now must be doubtful for the Cup, while his stablemate Stunin Cullen is also racing lengths below his best. That leaves Butt with only Mah Sish, who also races at Addington this Friday, as a serious Cup contender.

Meanwhile, Purdon was thrilled with the win of champion trotter I Can Doosit yesterday even though he had a real dogfight with Dr Hook and Stig.

He recorded his 15th straight win by trotting a sub 56 second last 800m, part of that three wide.

“It is so hard at this level because he had a few days off after his last start and you can’t be at your peak all of the time,” said Purdon.

“But he is a wonderful horse. He just knows how to win.”

Watch the highlights from Kaikoura Cup Day on HRTV here.

Watch the race replay and interview with Natalie on HRTV here.