Purdon confident ahead of Menangle features
By Adam Hamilton
The name Purdon has been a massive factor in Sydney’s biggest races for three decades, but now it’s the next generation carrying the family flag.
Nathan Purdon, son of Mark and grandson of the late Roy, is surprisingly bullish heading into the two features at Menangle on Saturday night despite wide barrier draws.
His brilliant mare Spellbound has gate nine to overcome in the $200,000 Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Mile (formerly the Ladyship Mile) and stablemate Amore Vita has the same wide draw in the $200,000 Group 1 NSW Oaks final.
“The draws don’t look great, but I don’t think they’re as bad as they seem,” Purdon said.
Purdon points to the fact Spellbound’s main danger, defending champion Stylish Memphis, has drawn the pole as potential positive for him.
“Her best form has been when she doesn’t get involved early and can sprint home at the finish,” he said. “Back in NZ, when they’ve used her early or made a midrace move, she hasn’t been as good at the finish.
“From one, Jack (Trainor, Stylish Memphis’ driver) has no choice but to bustle her out. I actually wouldn’t want that draw with Spellbound. Your hand is forced.
“Look at last week with Krug from a similar draw. If you burn early, it’s hard to then have a big sprint at the finish.
“If a couple of those quick beginners come out hard at the start and Stylish Memphis has to really burn with them, then it could set it up for those back in the field, like Spellbound.
“I’ve got her as good as I’ve had her and she’s only been to Menangle once for a brilliant win. She loves the big track.”
Star local Madrid looks an automatic and easy leader in the Oaks from gate four, leaving Purdon thinking Amore Vita will have to come around and put the pressure on midrace.
“I wouldn’t swap fillies, even with the draws,” he said. “Madrid is obviously very good and is the one to beat, but my filly just keeps getting better and better and she’ll love every bit of the 2400m. She’s a great stayer.
“I still think she’s a chance of sitting outside Madrid and winning, especially with a great tactical driver like Chris (Alford) on her.”