Barrier draw key for Belle Of Montana

By Michael Guerin

Belle Of Montana’s barrier draw could be a crucial advantage as the outstanding mare tries to return to the winner’s circle for the first time in 22 months at Alexandra Park on Friday night.

The home town heroine clashes with Bettor Twist, Stylish Memphis and Pelosi as all the group one glamour girls get together for the $30,000 Caduceus Club Northern Breeders, the lead up to next week’s Queen Of Hearts.

Belle Of Montana won the Queen Of Hearts two years ago and went on to win the Ladyship Stakes at Melton but hasn’t won since, racing sparingly and usually in open class.

While a long spell to overcome a leg issue and having to take on the likes of Copy That has kept her winless co-trainer Barry Purdon is still confident the ability and will are still there.

“I think she is really well,” says Purdon.

“She was great in her workout at Pukekohe last week even though she had a wobble on that home bend.

“She was going 26-second quarter speed at that stage and she doesn’t really seem to like that corner at Pukekohe but it is never an issue at Alexandra Park.”

While Belle Of Montana doesn’t have the recent racing of the other three favourites she does have the best draw and Purdon will be happy to see regular driver Zachary Butcher head forward at the start.

“I think she has to, there is no point going back at the start and ending up behind the other top ones,” he told HRNZ.

“She is ready to go that and has the gate speed so I think she will race well this week.

“She might have only had the one workout since she last raced but that was against the best open class horses and the NZ Cup winner.

“So she is ready to go and while there will be a little improvement in her for the Queen Of Hearts next week she is pretty ready to go.”

Purdon is interested to see how stablemate Be My Rose handled the best mares on Friday night.

“We have thrown her in there to find out where she stands and yes it is a good field but she has been improving all the time.”

He also rates Miss Montana, who was brave sitting parked last start, a good chance on Friday in the last race.

Purdon and partner Scott Phelan will take their high class two-year-olds Montana D J and Major Perry to the workouts this weekend and then they will race at the two major Alexandra Park meetings later in the month.

“They are both well and once they are through this month we will aim at the Harness Million (Feb 12) and then the Derby up here.”

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