Purdon unearths another star filly
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Favourite punters had their hearts in their mouths halfway down the straight in the Group 1 Woodlands Stud Caduceus Club 2YO Fillies Classic Mobile Pace (2200m) at Alexandra Park on Friday, but Millwood Nike was able to show her class in the closing stages to prevail by half a head over Kahlua Flybye.
Having won her previous three career starts in the lead-up to her debut Group One outing, including the Group 3 Helen Pope 2YO Fillies Stakes (1700m) at Ashburton in June, punters had backed the daughter of Captaintreacherous into $1.30 favouritism.
From barrier four, co-trainer/driver Mark Purdon elected to ease back off the gate with Millwood Nike to settle midfield behind a soft pace before improving his charge to sit parked with 1400m to go.
To Purdon’s relief Zachary Butcher urged Advance Party forward to sit outside the leader Forever Me and give Millwood Nike some much needed cover.
While the favourite received the perfect trip in the final lap, she showed greenness around the final bending, losing much needed ground, however, she showed her tremendous turn of foot to rundown Kahlua Flybye, who had opened a gap on her rivals after scooting up the pacing lane.
Purdon, who trains the filly in partnership with Hayden Cullen, was relieved to get up for the win.
“It was a good effort,” he said.
“She really didn’t handle that last corner well and I lost Zac’s (Butcher) back by probably about a length but when she straightened she really sprinted hard.”
Purdon said he predicted a slow pace upfront and was loathe to press Millwood Nike forward too early.
“I sort of predicted it (slow sectionals) and I came out down the back, but she was just keen enough I didn’t like to move her up too early because I felt she would have overraced,” he said.
“It worked out well with Zac turning up and having that cover in that last lap.”
The victory extended Purdon’s winning streak in the race to nine, having driven True Fantasy to victory for Cullen while he was on a training sabbatical last year, and had trained the previous seven winners in partnership with Natalie Rasmussen.
Purdon purchased Millwood Nike out of Millwood Farm’s 2021 New Zealand Bloodstock Standardbred National Yearling Sale draft for $75,000, and she has been syndicated amongst a group of stable clients that includes former Kiwis rugby league coach Frank Endacott.
“We select some of our better horses from the sale and we have selected well over the years,” Purdon said.
Millwood Nike is now set to contest the Listed NZB Standardbred Harness Million 2YO Fillies (1980m) at Addington Raceway on October 14, for which she now rates a $1.35 winning chance with TAB bookmakers.