Glamour pair delay trans-Tasman trip, Muscle Mountain staying home

By Adam Hamilton

Mark Purdon’s Aussie raid has been delayed another week.

The champion trainer confirmed he and son Nathan were still focused on chasing Victorian riches with pacing stars Akuta and Don’t Stop Dreaming and had planned to send the pair across to focus on Ballarat Cup night on January 20.

Now, the glamour pacing pair won’t arrive in Victoria until after Ballarat.

“Don’t Stop Dreaming just didn’t pull up as well as hoped from the last start and needs a bit more time,” Mark Purdon said.

“We’re on top of it and he’s had it before. It’s some jarring in his feet.

“Brooke (Wilkins) is looking after him in Auckland and by all reports, he’s getting better by the day.

“But we can’t take across until we’re totally happy with him, or things could really go wrong.

“So, we’ll push it back another week and get him across a few days before the Casey Classic meeting (January 27) at Melton.”

That means stable star Akuta’s trip will also be delayed to align with Don’t Stop Dreaming’s travel.

“Yes, they’ll travel together, so Akuta will miss the Ballarat Cup now,” Purdon said.

“He can run in the Casey Classic and go into the Hunter Cup the week after.

“Depending on how Don’t Stop Dreaming is assessed, he could run in the Casey Classic as well, or there’s a ratings race he might be eligible for.

“Either way, both will now run at Melton on the 27th (of January) and again the week after.”

Akuta will head to the $450,000 Hunter Cup (February 3), while Don’t Stop Dreaming’s aim is the $100,000 4YO Bonanza on the same night.

Muscle Mountain rules out Aussie trip

By Michael Guerin

Star trotter Muscle Mountain will be staying put at least for now.

The giant multiple Group 1 winner is back in work after a setback ruled him out of the NZ Trotting Free-For-All on Grand Prix Day at Addington but driver Ben Hope says the intended Australian trip for the Great Southern Star is off.

“We wanted to go to Victoria but being out of a work for a while he won’t be ready,” says Hope.

“So he will stay here and race in a couple of the major races here then head north.”

Top target when Muscle Mountain gets there will be the TAB Trot at Cambridge on April 12, which his connections hold a slot for so he is guaranteed a start.

“It is pretty exciting and knowing he is in the race helps us plan backward from there.”

Hope says the last part of Muscle Mountain’s year was disappointing after he was the best trotter in the country for much of 2023.

“He missed out in some of those biggest races, like the Rowe Cup and the Dominion and obviously the last one wasn’t his fault (atrial fibrillation).

“We realise that opens the door for Oscar Bonavena in the Trotter of the Year title.

“So we want to get him back to his best and nail some of those big races this season."


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