News

A NZ Cup surprise

By Michael Guerin

Champion trainer Barry Purdon could be about to spring a New Zealand Cup surprise.

Because the Hall of Famer says there is a very good chance he could have two starters in our greatest race at Addington on November 14 --- but not the two people might think.

Purdon has Hug The Wind, Jack’s Legend and Start Dreaming nominated for the Cup but Start Dreaming is now almost certainly a no-show after a recent slight setback only which sees her return to proper work on Friday.

But while many would think that would leave Purdon with only one starter in Auckland Cup runner-up Hug The Wind, the four-time NZ Cup winning trainer says he is just as sure Jack’s Legend can be there.

“He has come up well and there is a very good chance he will go to the Cup,” says Purdon.

“He is off to the workouts on Tuesday and then we will give him his chance at the races to show us where he stands.

“When you think of the speed he has the races he went last season, beating some very good horses in the Jewels, then he might deserve his shot.

“The only time I was disappointed in him last season was in the Northern Derby, the rest of the time he hit the line well and I think he is up to being a Cup horse.

“But we will let him ultimately tell us. We will give him his chance in races up here and if he goes well enough he will go to Addington.

 “And that is the same for Hug The Wind. He has shown us he is a Cup horses because he finished second to Dream About Me in the Auckland Cup last season so it has to be his aim.

“But like Jack’s Legend we think we can get him ready up here, especially as the Auckland Trotting Club has indicated they will hold those better class races if they get five horses or more.

“That means we have up till a fortnight before the Cup to make a decision, maybe even later and we can prepare them up here and make our choice.

“But at this stage I am happy with them both and there is a good chance they could both be there.”

That means no more of the often-popular route of racing in the north then launching the southern campaign in the Flying Stakes at Ashburton.

“I don’t think we need to go down that path as much as we used to in the past.

“I think we can get them ready up here because the horses and the breed are different now. I don’t think our Cup horses need the hard build-ups they used to have.”

Purdon proved that four years ago when veteran Pembrook Benny went into the Cup with only one lead-up races and finished a massive fourth in Terror To Love’s third Cup win.

Also on their way to Christchurch by Cup time could be Mach Shard and newcomer three-year-old Rubens.

The latter was a brilliant debut winner at Cambridge on Thursday night and will be given his shot at the northern Sires’ Stakes heats.

“He is a lovely big horses and has done everything we have asked of him so far so I think he can make it down there along with Mach Shard.”