Purdon reunites with young star across the Tasman

By Adam Hamilton

Mark Purdon is buzzing as he prepares to hop back aboard young star Don’t Stop Dreaming at Menangle on Saturday night.

Purdon was reunited with the four-year-old at Cobbitty Equine not far from Menangle yesterday after a few days buying at the NZ yearling sales in Auckland and Christchurch.

“I drove him in work and he felt terrific,” Purdon said. “It works well to have the race this weekend rather than go three weeks between runs in the Chariots.”

Don’t Stop Dreaming, who was driven by Jack Callaghan at his latest win, faces an interesting challenge from the outside draw (gate nine) against older rivals in a 2300m free-for-all at Menangle (11.17pm).

“It’s never easy from those draws, but he’s really well,” Purdon said.

Former Chariots Of Fire winner Expensive Ego returns from a spell from gate five for trainer-driver Luke McCarthy.

Talented former Tasmanian pacer Magician (gate three) and another former Kiwi, Smiffys Terror, add to the depth of the races.

Don’t Stop Dreaming is $2.50 equal favourite for Saturday week’s $250,000 Group 1 Chariots Of Fire with Jason Grimson’s latest buzz pacer Frankie Ferocious.

The field for the Chariots will be finalised after Saturday night’s $50,000 Paleface Adios Stakes (1609m) at Menangle where star Kiwi pacer Merlin – or Its Merlin as he will race as in Australia – makes his long-awaited Aussie debut (10.42pm).

The Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan-trained pacer is $2.10 to overcome a wide against some quality opposition. He’s drawn nine, but will start from seven if the emergencies come out.

Exciting Bathurst pacer Better Be The Best (six into four) and untapped Queenslander For Real Life (seven into five) look the biggest dangers.

Mark Purdon expects Its Merlin to assert his class.

“I’m sure it’s a good field, but if you look at how well Sooner The Better ran in the Hondo Grattan a few weeks back, you’d think Merlin should be too good,” he said.

Sooner The Better, a stablemate of Its Merlin, made fantastic late ground from near last to finish fourth behind Don’t Stop Dreaming in the Hondo Grattan.

Its Merlin should give NZ three runners in the Chariots.

Given there are already five pacers qualified for the final, the remaining five runners will come from the Paleface Adios Stakes.

Its Merlin is $5 in pre-post markets, but could shorten significantly with a dominant win on Saturday night.

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