News

Purdon and Butcher get double

NZ HARNESS NEWS

Barry Purdon and Zac Butcher did what they do best at Alexandra Park tonight – record wins.

The powerful Clevedon combination won the first two races on the card with Raptors Flight and On The Cards.

Raptors Flight was brilliant winning the first, whipping up the passing lane to defeat Mr Euroman in a very slick 2.41.6.

He was a handy three-year-old last season, winning two of 12 starts, but has really come on in leaps and bounds this time in.

So much so that Purdon thinks he will probably make it all the way through the grades.

“He’ll get through to the top grade, I’d say; he’s really stepped up this prep.

“He trialled well at Pukekohe 10 days ago, which was a pleasant surprise.

“I watched the video again and thought, gee he went pretty good.

“So I decided he’d be better off coming to the races than trialling again.”

Purdon says Raptors Flight will poke around at Alexandra Park between now and Christmas, during which time he will get a clearer picture on whether he will be up to the four-year-old features later in the season.

One race later, On The Cards benefited from a plum Butcher drive on debut to get the better of hot favourite Jack Nicholson in the closing stages.

He had trialled well in the lead up to tonight’s run, but with a bad draw on the outside of the front row, he started on the second line of betting.

A cart-up in the one-one through the middle stages, and a strong finishing burst were enough to get the win for the son of Bettor’s Delight.

A trip to the big smoke to race right-handed under lights was a whole new experience for the debutant.

“He’s a wee bit green and tonight was a big learning experience for him.

“He’s a lovely horse, though, and I think he will only get better.”

Purdon is contemplating sneaking him in to a Sires Stakes Series heat in Auckland on October 27.

“We might give him a shot at the second Sires Stakes heat back here later next month.

“We’ll just see how he progresses in the meantime.”

On The Cards is the first crack back at ownership for former Christchurch property tycoon Dennis Thompson.

A decade ago, Thompson owned an elite band of mostly-imported broodmares and a quality racing team prepared by Wayne Ross.

But after a period of bankruptcy he sold up and left the industry and On The Cards signals a dipping of his toes back in the water, so to speak.

“Dennis asked me to look out for a yearling for him at last years’ sales so I picked this one out for him,” said Purdon.

It wasn’t a perfect night at the office for Purdon and Butcher – another three-year-old in Rubens was a disappointing failure after trailing to take some gloss off the night.