Purdon to stay home

By Michael Guerin

Not many trainer-drivers would gift away a near certain group one winning drive.

But then again, not many horseman get to experience them as often as Mark Purdon.

 Purdon was set to cross the Tasman to Victoria this week to partner $1.15 favourite Princess Tiffany in the A$200,000 Breeders Crown three-year-old filly final but has instead retained Luke McCarthy as the driver.

 McCarthy partnered Princess Tiffany when she was surprisingly beaten in her heat of the series two week ago but was aggressive as she smashed her rivals in her semi final at Bendigo last Saturday.

 With some key rivals underperforming and missing the final and Princess Tiffany drawing barrier three she will be seen as past the post by most punters.

 Purdon was initially going to head to Victoria to train both Princess Tiffany and stablemate Jesse Duke this week and drive both in their finals.

  But Jesse Duke looked a tired horse when he dropped out in his semi final on Saturday and missed his final so the Harness Jewels winner will have a spell and be sent to North America for new trainer Chris Ryder.

 “I was going to go over but Poi (traveling foreman Matt Bowden) has got her right and Luke has been very good driving for us for a long time so I am happy to leave him on,” said Purdon.

 “So we will stay home where we have a big team and concentrate on them and watch the race on television.”

Princess Tiffany’s form rollercoaster over the last fortnight has summed up her season where her best has been brilliant but her worst average, with Belle Of Montana usurping her as our best filly.

 Ironically, if Princess Tiffany wins this Saturday and adds the Crown to her NSW Oaks win she might be voted Australia’s best filly even though she isn’t ours.

Meanwhile, Purdon’s big-name stars like Thefixer, Spankem, Chase Auckland and Ultimate Sniper are working down well to a trials resumption early next month and to start racing in October as the prepare for the New Zealand Cup and Auckland Inter Dominions.

 As for the Crown at Melton on Saturday night, New Zealand also have favourites in two-year-old male trotter Ultimate Stride and three-year-old trotting filly Liberty Stride while the A$300,000 male juvenile pace draws have fallen perfectly for Zeuss Bromac and Perfect Stride who can now test the favoured locals.

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