Group 1 win ushers in new Purdon era

By Michael Guerin

Nathan Purdon celebrated taking over the family business in Group 1 style on Friday night.

He and father Mark trained the quinella, and three of the first four home, when Chase A Dream grabbed We Walk By Faith right on the line in the $160,000 Garrards Sires’ Stakes Final at Addington.

The stable dominating the Sires’ Stakes is so normal it is almost boring but this came hours after Mark confirmed what he had been hinting at for a while: this is now Nathan’s stable.

Mark announced on Friday afternoon while he will remain in the partnership he will be moving to Matamata to spend more time with new partner Barbara Hunter, a well respected veterinarian.

He will take with him his small galloping team and help prepare those from the stables of local trainer Glenn Old and while he will still work in with Nathan, especially at carnival time, and probably head-up the travelling team when they come north, from now on Nathan is running the stable on a day-to-day basis.

What was Mark and Nathan Purdon, should now be Nathan and Mark Purdon.

In reality that has been the case for much of the last year, with Mark often saying “you’d have to ring Nathan about that,” to a standard stable question because his main focus was on the northern team, occasionally Australian raiders or his newfound interest in thoroughbreds.

Now it is official, Nathan is in charge and the changeover was seamless on Friday.

In a touch that befitted the change, Chase A Dream has improved back to his best since returning home to Nathan last month and looked more the Sires’ Stakes winner of last November.

But while he was sharp out of the one-one on Friday, his stablemate the enigmatic We Walk By Faith produced the run of the race to just go down after sitting parked the last lap.

“He is a really good horse but I really don’t think there is much over the top five or six in this crop,” said winning driver Natalie Rasmussen, summing it all up.

Cold Chisel was his normal gutsy self in third and lost just enough momentum to cost him getting closer but it feels like the back end of this season will belong to the one of the top youngsters who improves the most during their winter break.


The result of Friday night’s other major pace also had a feeling of familiarity as Team Dunn once again won the $110,000 Hydroflow NZ Country Cups Championship and like the Purdons supplied first, second and fourth.

It was Charlie Brown who lunged late in the hands of John Dunn to grab Dalton Shard, with the gutsy backmarker Alta Meteor third, pacing the 3200m in 3:57.3 in the run of the race.

But few could argue with the Dunns winning the Final for the second year on end as they would be alonside Team Telfer as the South Island’s biggest supporters of country cups, taking good quality stock who bring punter’s pockets with them, to Cups from Blenheim to Invercargill and every where in between

It has served them well as an academy for open class development and this time it was Charlie Brown who showed the usual Dunn twin threat of manners and toughness.

It was a final befitting the depth of the series, with favourite Mo’unga rushing to the lead at the bell but fading the last 200m.

The Dunns may have also won earlier in the night with juvenile trotter Ya Rite Darl and Heisenberg (like Charlie Brown owned by Ross and Angela Gordon) but in the main trot their hot favourite Sunny’s Sister blew the start.

So too did I Dream Of Jeannie and with that pair out of play it was left to Galway Girl to cruise to the lead and control the race, trotting home in 28.7 seconds to win in a 1:59.9 mile rate.

The early gallops may not have been much fun for punters but nobody begrudges two of harness racing good guys in Steven McRae (trainer) and Craig Thornley (driver) combiing to win a $40,000 race so it will still a popular result in the Heather Williams Memorial.

The night’s other feature, the new Canprint “Bionic Chance Bracelet” went to a filly who looked bionic in Captains Mistress.

The Nathan Williamson-trained filly flew home the last 200m to beat an impressive debutante in Stella Rouge as the southern juvenile filly crop sprung into life with the promise of so much more to come.


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