Nathan's New Year's Eve Hopes
by Adam Hamilton
Nathan Purdon is superbly placed to cap his first year as an “Aussie” trainer with two major players at Friday night’s stellar Vicbred Grand Finals meeting at Melton.
It’s only fitting, brilliant former Kiwi mare Spellbound leads his change after being the pacer who really kick-started his time training from Lara, outside of Melbourne.
“We’ve exceeded expectations in the first year, but not by as much as you’d think because I’m a person who sets the bar pretty high,” Purdon said.
“When you leave home and try something like this, it has to be successful to make it all worthwhile.
“It’s not easy being away from friends and family, especially at this time of year, Mikayla (Lewis, Purdon’s partner) has really felt it over the past few weeks and I totally understand how hard it is.
“Having these two horses going into the big races as big winning chances has certainly helped give us something to focus on and look forward to.”
Purdon’s other major player is improving former Kiwi juvenile filly Amore Vita.
Spellbound is $1.80 favourite to overcome a wide draw and win the 4YO Mares’ Pacing final, while Amore Vita has been crunched from $2.80 into $2.40 from gate bone in the 2YO Fillies’ Pacing final.
“We’ve got high hopes for both without getting carried away because it’s Group 1 racing. They are both as good a show as each other, whichever gets the best luck in running will be the better hope.
“The best part is, they are both as good as I can have them at the right time.”
While many think the jury is out on gate one for Amore Vita, Purdon is almost adamant she will lead and hold the front.
“Her gate speed is a little bit underrated, she’s faster than most people give her credit for,” he said. “Early on she was a bit green and took a bit to get going in the first 50m, but she’s grown through that.
“I think she’ll leave pretty strong. It will take something very quick to get across.
“I hope and expect to lead and hold it. Chris (Alford, driver) has looked after her in lead-ups, but she’s peaked now and ideally we’ll see her driven like the best horse.”
Spellbound has cruised through her heat and semi with soft wins, which has been exactly what Purdon hoped.
“I spoke with Stuey (McDonald, driver) about wanting her to do nothing more than she has to through the qualifiers and he’s done exactly that,” he said.
“For 3-4 weeks I wasn’t overly happy with her, but the past two weeks given me the feel she’s as good as she can be again and that’s exciting.
“I don’t think we need to burn out from the wide draw, just keep working forward. If she finds the front then great, if not, then she can still control the race from outside them.
“It looks like she and Maajida are the class runners and it helps Maajida has drawn inside the back row and needs some luck with traffic.”
In other stable news, pacing queen Amazing Dream won’t race again before the Group 1 Ballarat Cup on January 22.
“We just gave her a week off after Cranbourne. She’s had a lot of brutal races going into it from bad draws before that and it was just starting to catch-up with her a little,” Purdon said.
“We’ll get her ready for Ballarat and then onto the Hunter Cup (February 5).”
Purdon is optimistic Amazing Dream may stay Down Under long enough for a crack at the Ladyship Mile and maybe Miracle Mile at Menangle in late February/early March
“There’s no departure date yet and those races are getting closer. I’d love to get her up to a Ladyship Mile," he said.