Cool drive seals Self Assured's FFA win

By Jonny Turner

A theme of nothing going to plan this spring continued for Self Assured until the home turn in the star pacer’s brilliant come from behind victory in the Group 1 New Zealand Free-For-All.

The 2020 New Zealand Cup winner showed exactly how devastating he can be when flying home from last to clinch victory in the Show Day feature, just denying Aussie raider Majestic Cruiser.

Seeing Mark Purdon sitting last and giving the leaders a huge start with a warm second elect was an unusual sight for Self Assured’s backers to have to encounter at Addington on Friday.

But it was because the pacer was the early loser amid a hectic start to the New Zealand Free-For-All.

So often praised for his training, it was Purdon’s cool, calm and collected drive that won the race.

“There were a few going out early and it looked like I was going to end up four-wide,” Purdon said. ]

“I thought if I got on Majestic Cruiser’s back, he would want to put him in the race.”

“And he did, down the back he was the first to come out before Zac and Old Town Road pushed him out.”

“When they started to roll, I was able to get my horse into the clear, so it worked out well.”

Self Assured swept up to the leaders inside the final 150m, but he needed to dig deep to win.

And he did exactly that under Purdon’s urgings.

“He had to dig in to get there and he did, it was a great effort,” Purdon said.

The top seed among New Zealand’s open class ranks through the summer and autumn, Self Assured’s spring campaign hit a brick wall last month when he went a shocking race by his standards in the Ashburton Flying Stakes.

The Purdon-Cullen camp resurrected Self Assured’s form with treatment for spring-like complaints.

“He disappointed us in the Free-For-All last year, in the springtime he seems to be affected by allergy-type issues that irritate him,” Purdon said.

“Having that knowledge from last year was really helpful, so we got onto it straight away after Ashburton.”

Majestic Cruiser looked to have the New Zealand Free-For-All won until Self Assured lunged late to win.

Denied twice during New Zealand Cup Week following his second in the New Zealand Cup, trainer Jason Grimson gets some small consolation in that his pacer at least brings exceptional form to a very weak upcoming Interdominion series in Victoria.

Old Town Road dug in for a third after launching a huge run before the home turn.

In doing so, the northern star grabbed a well-deserved placing after smashing the clock with his sectionals in the New Zealand Cup.



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