The plan to keep Millwood Nike unbeaten in 2023
By Michael Guerin
Young training star Nathan Purdon thinks he knows what the code needs and punters could do worse than backing his judgement.
Purdon is in charge of much of the day-to-day running of the famous All Stars racing stable he now shares with his father Mark.
The pair have an army of harness stars including two of our best pacers in Self Assured and Akuta but they also have unbeaten filly Millwood Nike and Nathan says he wants her to remain that way and not just for her owners.
Millwood Nike has won all 14 career starts including five Groups 1s, a Group 2 and a Group 3 and is currently strengthening up with a water walker training regime before she returns to the stable.
She appears to have our best three-year-old fillies races at her mercy as it is hard to see any of those who have been chasing her around for the last year improving enough to beat her by the end of the season, which for harness racing is December 31.
Her two remaining Group 1 goals for the year are the Nevele R Fillies Final at Addington on November 14 and the NZ Oaks back there on December 10 but one potential problem could be getting Millwood Nike enough competitive racing to peak for those races.
She has a rating of 90 which is almost open class so if she scares her filly rivals away in any lead-up races then the Purdons could have had to resort to starting her in open class races to hone her, a tactic they have used with three-year-old boys and girls before.
But Nathan Purdon says he doesn’t want to do that and instead wants to protect Millwood Nike’s unbeaten record.
“It is not about the money, I just think it would be great for the industry if she can keep winning,” says Purdon.
“People love a big winning streak and if she could remain unbeaten this season and come back next year with 19 or 20 straight wins next to her name it would be something for people to follow.
“You need those horses that people want to line the outside fence to see, to get close to, and I think she could be that horse.”
Purdon says with that in mind he and his father will avoid starting Millwood Nike against older horses or even the male three-year-olds if at all possible this season.
“She should be able to have two heats of the Nevele R series before that final on Cup Day while there is a lead-up race programmed at Addington about 10 days before the Oaks.
“Those races should all get off the ground and if they don’t or for some reason she has to miss one of them then we’d try to use trials to get her ready rather than starting in her races we don’t think she could win.”
If Millwood Nike wins all five of her planned starts against filly rivals, which is still easier said than done, she could start 2024 on 19 consecutive wins.
That would give her at least a shot at Courage Under Fire’s record for consecutive wins by a New Zealand-trained horse of 24 and it could also pay off for smart punters.
The New Zealand TAB bookies have a special futures bet on whether Millwood Nike can remain unbeaten for the remainder of the year and she has to start at least four more times by December 31 for bets to stand.
She is paying $2.75 on that option, in from $3 last week, to remain unbeaten this year and Purdon’s plan to stick to fillies-only races make that price seem value.
If she starts in all five planned races she could average a fixed odds starting price as small as $1.10 and $1 placed at that price letting the profits ride would come back at less than $1.80 total return, far less than the $2.75 available on the novelty bet.
While a lot can go wrong with any bet like that and luck will always be a factor, Millwood Nike has shown she is good enough to sit parked and still beat her best filly rivals, which is the key factor to taking any short odds.
If Millwood Nike can keep doing that then both harness racing and punters will be the winners.