Purdon-Phelan dominate Alexandra Park card with five winners

By Michael Guerin

Scott Phelan isn’t sure whether he has trained four winners on a night before but he knows he had never trained five. Until last night.

Phelan and senior training partner Barry Purdon dominated Friday night’s Alexandra Park card training five winners from six races they had reps in, winning all the pacing races they contested.

They also produced two quinellas, with stable star Merlin once again beating Sooner The Better in the main pace even after having to work early.

Three-year-olds Better Knuckle Up and Escape Artist came from near last to quinella a good-class lower grade race suggesting they are both Derby contenders in March.

So too is Jeremiah, the son of Lazarus, who won Race 5 in 1:55.2 and is a three-year-old on the rise with real raw potential.

Their other winners were three-year-old fillies Kiss and Ultimate Racy Girl, who are already proven at group race level and have the Oaks on their longer-term agenda.

Phelan says while Purdon would have trained a five win bag “heaps of times” it is a first for him.

“I’m not even sure I have had four winners in a night at the same meeting before but definitely not five,” says Phelan.

“It was exciting because Merlin is a wonderful horse but Sooner The Bettor pushed him hard, proving what a good horse he is.”

“They will both now head to the Chariots Of Fire qualifers and Sooner The Bettor will run in the first prelude race at Menange and Merlin will go to the second.”

With arch rival Don’t Stop Dreaming, who makes his Australian debut at Melton on Saturday night set to race in the Hunter Cup next week, he is more likely to head to the second qualifier and therefore resume his rivalry with Merlin.

All three horses could clash in the A$250,000 Chariots Of Fire at Menangle on March 2, the winner of which will get invited to the Miracle Mile a week later.

Another exciting aspect of the “five-for” was that the other four winners are all class three-year-olds who now have Derby, Oaks and Harness Millions aspirations.

“It is exciting to have such good young horses in the barn with so much good racing up here.”

And Phelan enjoyed one of their biggest owners Dean Shannon being on track to see Merlin and Sooner The Bettor, who he owns and co-owns, quinella while he also shares in the ownership of Jeremiah and Kiss.

“We all know what a huge part of NZ racing Dean and the Entain people are now and we are very proud to have been training for him for such a long time so it was great to see him on track.”

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