NZ Cup champion out of Free- For-All


By Michael Guerin

A quick trip to the stables to check on his latest New Zealand Cup winner on Wednesday afternoon was enough to convince Mark Purdon to scratch Self Assured from Friday’s $180,000 NZ Free-For-All.

The Cup hero didn’t eat up as well as usual on either Tuesday night or Wednesday and while Purdon knows the horse is fine he is happy to miss tomorrow’s race from barrier nine.

“He is tired all right and knows he has had a race,” says Purdon.

“He had a hard week leading in, I gave him plenty of standing start practice after the Cup trial so he has been busy.

With Self Assured coming out of the race stablemate Amazing Dream was the new $1.85 favourite over Spankem at $2.40 in a race also shorn of Cup favourite Copy That.

So who would win out of the pair?

“A lot will depend on the start,” says Purdon.

“If Classie Brigade (1) can hold the lead and Amazing Dream trails him then she will be very hard to beat but Spankem is obviously the more hardened open class horse.

“So it will probably come down to the run.”

Self Assured will head to Auckland next month to defend his Auckland Cup title and then be aimed at the Miracle Mile carnival which Purdon says is now very much on his radar even if there are still one-way travel restrictions in play.

“We will be keen on that carnival and obviously I hope the travel restrictions coming back into New Zealand are lifted by then, but if they are still in place and I have to quarantine for two weeks coming back that will be ok.

“I might have struggled a bit more with going if the quarantine was both ways.”

Even after the greatest training career in New Zealand harness racing history Purdon took deep personal pride in training the trifecta in Tuesday’s Cup, his sixth win in seven years.

“I don’t know if the trifecta has ever been done and definitely not in the modern era so now I think about it more it is very special.”

And he, like everybody, has heard the talk around the controversial start and the disadvantage to Copy That but hopes it does not detract from the winner’s performance.

“He was still very, very good and deserves to be recognised as a very good Cup winner.”

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