Akuta shocks at both end of massive Jewels win

By Jonny Turner

Mark Purdon wasn’t quite certain which was bigger, Akuta’s incredible ten-length IRT Jewels win or the fright the star colt gave him at the start of the race.

The red-hot favourite shocked his legions of backers when pacing roughly shortly after the start of the Group One McMillan Equine Feeds 2YO Emerald before his owner-driver was forced to restrain him to the tail of the field.

The pair then regained their composure before combining for an epic ten-length demolition of the best two-year-old pacing colts and geldings in New Zealand.

While the early incident added theatre to an already highly anticipated race it also meant the win may never have happened.

“I almost lost him completely at the start, he only stayed on his feet and no more,” Purdon said.

Purdon next faced a major tactical headache.

The three-wide train had started moving at the bell and the pair were awkwardly placed to the inner of Classy Operator.

Purdon was worried he was going to be stuck in a horrible spot before his rival then pleasantly surprised him.

And what happened next, after Akuta saw clear air was breath taking – a ten-length display of incredible speed and power like seen in few IRT Harness Jewels races before.

“It didn’t work out the way I had hoped and it wasn’t the best position to be in,” Purdon said.

“The horse outside us was under pressure and I thought he would only get us to the back straight and then we would be in trouble.”

“But he showed a bit of speed around the bend and when we saw daylight my horse just took off.”

Akuta’s win wasn’t just about his stunning talent or Purdon’s cool, calm and collected drive.

But also Purdon again showing his eye for selecting a star juvenile from the National Yearling Sale.

The colt put in a performance worthy of many of the champions that have been in Purdon’s care before.

And it was enough for the reserved Purdon to admit the pacer was one out of the box.

“I think on that performance today you would have to say he is pretty special.”

A wall of horses were left to fight out the minor placings in the Group One McMillan Equine Feeds 2YO Emerald.

Major Perry fought on bravely after leading up the three-wide train and parking outside the surprise leader in Sugar Apple in the last lap.

After being held up around the home turn and for the early stages of the run home Cosmic Major dashed into third placing.

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