Belle Of Montana ready but vulnerable
By Garrick Knight
Glamour mare Belle Of Montana makes a welcome resumption at Alexandra Park on Friday.
Last season’s Filly of the Year has had two workouts in preparation for the race and trainer Barry Purdon says both he and driver Zachary Butcher have been satisfied with proceedings.
“Really happy,” he told HRNZ.
“I think she may be a little bit vulnerable this week from a wide draw against some good ones, but she is there to win.”
After enjoying a good, and well-earned, winter spell, it took some extra work to get the daughter of Bettor’s Delight back in to race trim.
“She’s been pretty big in condition and isn’t quite there yet but is looking a picture.”
Belle Of Montana strikes a strong field over the mobile mile which includes the likes of Star Galleria, The Devils Own and her own stablemates, Havtime and On The Cards, who are both also resuming from spells.
Purdon believes On The Cards is the fittest of his trio and despite drawing the outside alley, probably presents as the best of his hopes in the race.
“He’s won both his trials and has gone good in doing so.
“He’s pretty forward for this week and it’s just the draw that will hurt his chances.”
Belle Of Montana is being set for next month’s Group 1 Queen of Hearts, where she will likely go head to head with her nemesis from last season, Princess Tiffany.
“After that, we’ll probably look across to Australia for the Ladyship Mile if she’s going good enough at the time.”
Purdon has gotten off to a rampant start this season, training 19 winners and 18 place-getters from just 60 starters and he is six clear of the next best northerner on the trainers’ premiership.
Accordingly, he has a very strong team in tonight and could easily go home with another three or four winners.
Asked for an indication on perhaps his strongest chance on the night, he looked towards maiden pacer Bettor Listen, who is having just his second start after an encouraging second on debut.
“He’s a nice horse and shouldn’t be a maiden for much longer; I expect him to go a good race.”
“Little Miss Perfect is fresh-up and might just need the run in what is quite a good field.
“We have Some Do in the same race and she’s a really nice filly, just not ideally drawn.”
Purdon is in Christchurch this week, firstly for Mach Shard’s New Zealand Cup tilt on Tuesday and now Wainui Creek’s $40,000 Mares Classic tilt today.
Mach Shard isn’t backing up after a disappointing run, where we dropped away from a perfect striking position on the point of the turn.
“We haven’t had the bloods back yet but he’s feeling a little bit down on himself.
“I think he’s just jarred up.
“It’s just one of those things you can’t do much about.”
The Racing Integrity Unit’s head harness steward, Nick Ydgren, said he was yet to be advised of any other horses having felt the effects of the track from Tuesday’s racing.
“We haven’t heard anything, good or bad, about the state of the track.”