European interest leads to promising trotter
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
A keen interest in European trotting has led Canterbury trainer Michael Purdon to one of the most exciting juvenile trotters in the country.
Purdon spent a year working for Yabby Dam Farm trainer Anton Golino in Victoria and he said listening to the well-travelled horseman’s tales instigated his interest in European racing.
He began to follow racing in the region, particularly France, and when scouring a standardbred.gavelhouse.com catalogue his eye was taken by the pedigree of Mystic Max, a colt by French stallion Village Mystic, who is available to New Zealand and Australian breeders through Haras des Trotteurs.
Purdon was familiar with the deeds of the Group One winning son of Love You and was pleasantly surprised to see one of his progeny offered in the sale.
“I have been following European racing mainly since working for Anton Golino in Melbourne,” Purdon said.
“He had travelled around America and Europe, and the way he used to talk about European racing really piqued my interest.
“I found him (Mystic Max) on gavelhouse. He was bred by Tardina Lodge and I was quite familiar with the stallion, but I didn’t realise he was available here.
“When I saw him, I decided I would get him if I could because I knew the job his sire was doing in France. Thankfully I was able to purchase him.”
Purdon’s final bid of $9,501 was able to secure the colt, who is his sire’s only live foal in New Zealand.
He showed glimpses of promise when on debut in the Gr.3 New Zealand 2YO Trotting Stakes (1980m) at Addington Raceway earlier this month, but broke when running home late.
He returned to the Christchurch track on Friday and showed no signs of ill-manners, beginning well for driver Blair Orange to take an early lead and trotted fluidly throughout, winning by 1-3/4 lengths over Rakero Blaze, with a further 1-3/4 lengths back to Ellaria Sand in third.
“I was very happy with the run,” Purdon said. “He won a bit more convincingly than I thought he might. He had been training a lot better around home since his last start.
“I thought he would be quite competitive, but to win the way he did was something else.
“He has always shown that he has a bit of ability and he is worth pressing on with.”
Purdon admitted to being slightly frustrated with his colt’s misdemeanor on debut, but he said a slight training adjustment proved to work well in-between runs.
“It was a bit frustrating, but in saying that it was a bit of a learning curve for me as well,” he said.
“Steering-wise I might have been letting him get away with a bit much at home. After I saw that I got on top of it and it paid off today.”
His win on Friday should qualify him for the Harness Jewels at Cambridge Raceway in June, however, Purdon said he would like to get through the Sires’ Stakes before making a final decision.
“His next start will be the Sires’ Stakes Prelude on May 1. Not being eligible for the Harness Millions, and the Sires’ Stakes Final being the 21st, I will either look for a race in-between or if need be I will trial him,” Purdon said.
“We will see how he goes in his next couple of starts and make a decision of whether or not to take him to the Jewels. At this stage it looks like he will go, barring bad luck.”
It’s an exciting time for Purdon at the moment and he said he has another juvenile trotter at home that could be just as good as Mystic Max.
“I have got another two-year-old trotter, Nortie Nortie, he has been trialling up quite nicely,” Purdon said.
“Going off their track work there is not a lot of difference between him and Mystic Max at this stage.”
By Andover Hall, Nortie Nortie is another product of Tardina Stud, with Purdon purchasing the gelding out of their 2020 New Zealand Bloodstock Standardbred National Yearling Sale for $35,000.