Purdons hold keys to Alexandra Park features

By Michael Guerin

One of New Zealand’s training greats thinks his star three-year-olds could be playing catch-up in the features at Alexandra Park tonight and it could be his brother who inadvertently benefits.

So don’t be surprised if Mark Purdon wins both features tonight but brother Barry has two pacers running on strongly in them.

Mark Purdon is on 2499 training successes, with Barry the only other trainer to have cracked 2500. He's currently on 2635.

Tonight’s meeting sees the best pacing fillies in the Peter Breckon Memorial and the boys in a Sires’ Stakes heat with both races lead-ups to next week’s Northern Oaks and Northern Derby.

The lead-up races to that level of Groups 1 can be notoriously tricky for punters especially as some of the key players tonight have unsuitable draws and won’t be looking for gutbusters heading into the classics while others are coming off disappointing performances and need to get back on track before next week.

The $66,000 Peter Breckon Memorial, named after the late brother of one of the biggest players in the industry in Ken Breckon, was probably always going to be dominated by unbeaten Millwood Nike but that looks even more likely when you talk to rival trainers Barry Purdon and Steve Telfer.

Purdon trains Advance Party who disappointed badly for the second time in three starts after getting fired up last start so he wants to see her taught to relax tonight heading into the Oaks.

“She doesn’t seem at her best when she works early at this stage so I’d like to see her settle,” says Purdon.

Rival trainer Steve Telfer feels the same about Kahlua Flybye after she faded when working to lead in the NSW Oaks last start so he is suggesting she be driven for one run so with the next two favourites not looking to press early for the lead tonight Millwood Nike she should work to the front and win for Mark Purdon.

Mark could also be the beneficiary in the Sires’ Stakes heat in which he has Sinbad (barrier 1) and Sherlock (10) even though Merlin is the best horse in the race.

Merlin was given a freshen up by Barry Purdon after his gutsy Harness Million win at Cambridge four weeks ago and with the Derby next week and the star colt drawn four on the second line Purdon wants him driven for speed.

“He is really well and his freshen up after Cambridge has been good for him but I wouldn’t want to see him driven three wide and hard in the middle stages,” admits Purdon.

“It is a good field and from the second line draw it is a good chance to have him hitting the line hard, but still winning if he can, before the Derby next week.”

Purdon says his other stable rep Sooner The Better is more likely to be driven forward and even try for the lead and if that creates tempo in the race then Merlin can still win but if Merlin plays the waiting game tonight then Sherlock becomes the one to beat.

He has been a big improver over recent months and was impressive winning here two weeks ago and Mark Purdon is hoping for a good run through behind Seve to get into the race early.

“I think Sherlock is our best chance even though Sinbad has drawn the ace as I am not entirely sure he (Sinbad) has the gate speed to use it,” says Mark Purdon.

While Barry Purdon, who trains in partnership with Scott Phelan, isn’t getting too confident with his three-year-olds tonight he is keen on juvenile Cold Chisel (R3, No.3) who was luckless on debut at Cambridge and impressive winning at the Pukekohe workouts last weekend.

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