Arabian Blue scores at Manawatu
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Arabian Blue was racing in front of his owner Les Purdon for the first time at Manawatu Raceway on Tuesday, and he made sure it was a winning experience.
The Steve Dolan-trained gelding was launched off the gate by driver Devon van Til but was forced to do a bit of work to capture the lead off early leader Superstar Legend.
The early hot pace strung out the field and van Til was left untroubled up front until turning for home where Arabian Blue had to see off the late challenge of second favourite Cos I Can to win by three quarters of a length.
Van Til was delighted to get the win, particularly for Purdon, who hadn’t seen his horse in the flesh until race day.
“I am really happy to get the win for Les,” van Til said.
“It is the first time Les has met the horse. He was there to give him a pat today before he went out and I am really happy that he was there to watch him.”
It was the first win for van Til behind the gelding and she said she wanted to take luck out the equation on Tuesday.
“I have had a couple of chances on him before when I have had to go down south and things just hadn’t gone our way,” she said.
“It was just a big relief to get away safely behind the gate, get to the lead, and from there I was pretty confident.
“He did have to work a little bit more than I wanted to (to get the lead) but you have got to go up there and be confident. I knew he had the ability to get there so once I got there it was good, I was left alone, and it paid off.
“Right at the end I knew a couple were coming and Cos I Can isn’t a bad horse and didn’t have to do the work that I did, but I knew he (Arabian Blue) was good enough and he doesn’t give up, he keeps fighting.”
Arabian Blue will head to the second day of the meeting on Thursday where he will line-up in the Manawatu Cup.
“He gets to stay the same rating with the penalty-free junior, so he should be competitive again if we get a good draw,” van Til said.
Meanwhile, van Till was happy to get her training career off to a pleasing start when Montoya finished runner-up on debut at Motukarara Raceway last Saturday.
“I was really stoked,” van Til said. “He is still a big, green horse, so he has got a lot to learn, but I was really proud of his first effort. He should only get better.”