Purdon relatively confident
By Michael Guerin
Defending New Zealand Cup hero Thefixer is the centre of a radical plan to get him back to our greatest harness race.
And while champion trainer Mark Purdon describes himself as “relatively confident” Thefixer can make it to Addington for the second Tuesday in November it is very much a case of punters beware in futures betting.
Thefixer has yet to race this season and was supposed to trial this week but has been suffering from hoof soreness.
Purdon, training partner Natalie Rasmussen, their vets and blacksmith have come up with an idea not even Purdon has tried before in his legendary career.
They have found Thefixer is happiest when not wearing conventional shoes so they plan to shoe him the mornings he fast works, then immediately take the shoes off and only put them back on again for his next workout.
“In between times he would wear a boot, similar to the ones endurance horses wear when they are competing on rocky surfaces, to protect the hooves.
“It is not ideal obviously and we have never tried anything like this before but we think it can work.”
Thefixer has long struggled with hoof problems, particularly in the frog area at the rear of the hoof.
The stable tried to cover that with what is known as an egg-bar shoe but they found it was restricting the blood flow to the hoof and not letting it spread on impact with the ground and therefore dissipate the concussion load.
“So his hooves were getting worse and after we took his shoes off on Monday he has been a lot happier since.
“He will wear the endurance boots when he is on the treadmill or in the resistance cart and then shoes when he is fast worked.”
Purdon says hoof issues aside Thefixer is very forward and he could even race in the Canterbury Classic at Addington tomorrow week, depending on how he handles his new regime and fast works on Monday.
“Even if he can’t make it there he has races like the Methven Cup and Flying Stakes at Ashburton and the races even closer to the Cup.
“So we think we can get him there but we also know things like this put him at a disadvantage compared with a horse like Spankem, whose campaign has gone so well so far.”
Spankem’s track record-equalling win at Oamaru on Sunday has seen him ascend to $3.40 favouritism for the Cup on November 12, while Thefixer is now the $4.20 second favourite but that is certain to drift.
The reality is while Thefixer overcame some issues on his way to winning the Cup last year, he is at best of comparable ability to Spankem but at the moment one is in the zone and the other not so much.
Both horses were among nine the All Stars nominated yesterday for the Inter Dominions, which start at Alexandra Park on November 29, with the leading stable entering six pacers and the trotters.
Spankem and The Fixer are joined by Ultimate Sniper, Chase Auckland, Ashley Locaz and the surprise nomination of Queensland Derby winner Self Assured, who isn’t in the New Zealand Cup.
And their trotting team is headed by Oscar Bonavena with Winterfell and Luby Lou.
Entries for the Inter Dominion close at 11am on Monday morning and are free so while that may lure some decent Australian numbers in, how many make it to Auckland for the series will be interesting.
There is an understandable fear of the Purdon-Rasmussen horses from Australian stables but in reality, with Thefixer’s issues, the fact Ultimate Sniper and Self Assured and only four-year-olds and Ashley Locaz and Chase Auckland lose more than they win in open class, Spankem is the only truly scary Interdom pacer the All Stars have and he was unplaced in the Final last season.