On to the next chapter

By Michael Guerin

When the best pacing mare in the world has her career ended at the peak of her powers, silver linings are a little hard to find.

But Adore Me’s trainer Mark Purdon had at least one when breaking the news to the Herald yesterday.

The wonder mare’s connections were left with little choice but to retire their pacing heroine after x-rays revealed she fractured a sesamoid bone in Friday’s Auckland Cup.

The break almost certainly happened in the brief gallop 450m from the finish which cost Adore Me the Cup, which she lost by a nose to Christen Me.

That incident came just days after she smashed the Australasian mile record with her 1:47.7 stunner at Menangle, confirming she was the best of her sex and gait in the world.

But while Purdon is disappointed to lose the best horse he has ever trained, he was also philosophical.

“I would have been more of a tragedy had this happened a few months ago and she didn’t get to do what she did this summer,” said Purdon.

“She got to show everybody how great she was and has left us with some special memories.”

Top of those, even bettering her scarcely believable mile time, was her New Zealand Cup victory in November, when she shattered another record, the world 3200m mark.

Between those two magical bookends of summer she was magnificent in the Flying Mile at Cambridge and brave in defeats to her close relation Christen Me in the NZ Free-For-All and particularly the Victoria Cup.

Purdon is adamant the fracture happened in the incident he still fails to find an explanation for in Friday’s Cup, with Adore Me’s bravery to pick herself up and finished second in yet another national record time as good as any of her greatest wins.

And her fans can rest easy, Adore Me came back to the stables after the race not initially sore, her adrenalin masking any pain from the subsequently career-ending injury.

As she cooled down a problem became more apparent and the prognosis for her racing again was bleak after her weekend x-rays.

She heads to the breeding barn potentially the most valuable broodmare in New Zealand harness history, her family already red hot at the recent sales before her 1:47.7 mile or the Northern Derby win of her little brother Have Faith In Me three days ago.

But sadly we now won’t get to see her defend his New Zealand Cup or take on Interdom champ Beautide, who she beat in their only clash, in next season’s Miracle Mile.

Adore Me enters retirement after resetting the benchmark for pacing mares in this part of the world, having given New Zealand the closest thing we may ever see to Sunline in a sulky.

Adore Me: 5m Bettors Delight-Scuse Me.
Trainers: Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen.
Breeder: Charles Roberts.
Owners: Charles Robert, Paul and Mary Kenny.
Record: 36 starts, 26 wins, seven placings (galloped in two other standing starts).
Earnings: $1,677,032.
12 Group wins: New Zealand Cup, Ladyship Mile, Queen Of Hearts (twice); Nevele R Fillies Final, NZ Breeders Stakes, Northern Oaks, NZ Oaks, Harness Jewels (twice), Sires’ Stakes Championship.
Group one placings: Auckland Cup (twice), NZ Free-For-All, Victoria Cup, Northern Derby, Ladyship Mile, Taylor Mile.