Barry Purdon plotting more Chariots success with Merlin

By Adam Hamilton

No trainer has played a bigger role in making the Chariots Of Fire the great race it is than Barry Purdon.

Australia’s premier four-year-old race was first run in 1995 and Purdon immediately made his mark by winning three of the first five Chariots Of Fires with Gingerman (1995), Franco Hat Trick (1998) and Holmes DG in 1999.

Purdon then added a fourth win with the brilliant Our Sky Major in 2015.

Now Purdon wants a fifth win, this time in partnership with Scott Phelan, with the outstanding Merlin.

Merlin took his record to an outstanding 15 wins and five placings from just 21 starts when he won easily at Alexandra Park last Friday night.

The son of Art Major is booked on a flight to Sydney today where he will tackle next Saturday's $50,000 Paleface Adios Sprint in a quest to book his Chariots Of Fire berth for March 2.

Purdon already has one confirmed Chariots runner with Sooner The Bettor securing the spot when fourth to glamour Kiwi pacer Don’t Stop Dreaming in last Saturday night’s Hondo Grattan at Menangle.

A top four finish for Merlin in the Paleface Adios would lock him in, too.

Rather than be daunted by the stunning impact Merlin’s arch-rival Don’t Stop Dreaming has made in his three Aussie runs, Purdon is buoyed by it.

“They’ve already had a good rivalry and it’ll be good to carry it on over in Australia,” Purdon said.

“I think it’s exciting Don’t Stop Dreaming has gone so well, especially that terrific second to Leap To Fame in the Hunter Cup because he’s the benchmark horse. It points well to how strong the form line is.”

Purdon is acutely aware of the step a top young pacer like Merlin needs to take to be an open-class star.

“Sure, he’s still got to keep stepping-up, but I think he’s got all the right qualities to do it,” he said.

“He won well the other night, but pulled-up like he’d take a lot from the run as well. He should pretty close to spot on by the time he lines up at Menangle.”

Purdon is also looking forward to returning to the big Australian race meetings.

“I’ve got so many great memories and had so much success over there, it’s nice to be back on the circuit,” he said.

 

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