Purdon settles on Hunter Cup pair

By Adam Hamilton

INTER Dominion finalist Spankem won’t contest Saturday night’s $500,000 Group 1 Hunter Cup at Melton.

So Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen’s quest for a third Hunter Cup win in the past four runnings will sit with their Ballarat Cup duo Thefixer and Cruz Bromac.

The Aussie TAB has NZ and Ballarat Cup winner Thefixer $2.70 equal favourite with Tiger Tara. Cruz Bromac is on the third line of betting at $4.50.

“The big races are so close together you can’t run in them all,” Purdon said. “Spankem won’t run this week. He needs to run in a qualifier for the Chariots Of Fire, which will be the Paleface Adios (February 9) and it’s asking to much to race this week as well.”

Purdon and Rasmussen have the first three in betting in the Aussie TAB’s Chariots of Fire market: Spankem ($3.50), Ashley Locaz ($4) and Chase Auckland ($4.50).

All three raced last weekend with Ashley Locaz, who stormed home to win the free-for-all at Menangle, the only winner.

Spankem was massive in defeat after sitting parked in slick time and just being edged-out by star Victorian Poster Boy, who had the perfect sit on him, in the Group 1 4YO Bonanza.

The win gets Poster Boy automatic entry into the Chariots and he’s an $11 chance. He’s now the best hope for trainer Emma Stewart after she revealed Breeders Crown winner Ride High was sidelined with injury.

Chase Auckland remains the most interesting Chariots player.

He returned from more than 10 months out through injury with a well-held fourth to Kevin Pizzuto’s Chariots hopeful, Picard, at Menangle last Saturday night.

Opinions varied on the run, but Purdon said it was “about what we expected to be honest.”

“We’ve done everything we can at home, he just needs the racing now and he’ll come on a lot from the other night,” he said.

“He’ll back-up in the Hondo Grattan (a Chariots qualifier) at Menangle this week.”

Pizzuto is yet to decide whether Picard will run this week or wait for the Paleface Adios on February 9.

“It’s hard when you’ve got big races in different states on the same night like I have with Tiger heading to Melbourne and a couple of key races at Menangle,” he said.

Pizzuto will definitely run his star speedster Majordan again at Menangle this week after he galloped at the start and lost all hope in the race won by Ashley Locaz last Saturday night.

“He was just too fresh. He’ll be right don’t worry. I’ll run him this week then probably again six days later in the Newcastle Mile. It’s all about having him spot-on for the Miracle Mile,” Pizzuto said.

Pizzuto will wait until after the Hunter Cup to finalize Tiger Tara’s path to the Miracle Mile.

Despite his amazing deeds this season, the Miracle Mile rules still require Tiger Tara to contest a qualifying race.

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