Purdon's split second decision pays dividends on GP day

By Jonny Turner

Pulling the left rein proved to be a case of pulling the right rein for Mark Purdon in the Group One New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All at Addington on Grand Prix Day.

Purdon left punters gasping with a lap to go in New Zealand’s biggest trotting sprint when he elected to stay three back on the markers with the red-hot favourite Oscar Bonavena.

But those same punters were left counting their cash when Purdon shot his star trotter along the inner to claim his second big Group 1 title in three weeks.

Though he looked as cool and calm as ever when doing so, Purdon admitted he thought he might have made a right hash of things when electing to stay on the markers.

“I was thinking about what to do, and as soon as I decided to stay on the markers, Love N The Port came around,” Purdon said.

“So, then I thought I had made the wrong move.”

“But I thought if I sat parked, he would end up doing too much work.”

“His best attribute is his speed, and I drove him that way.”

Winning came after a more few nervous moments for Purdon as he angled Oscar Bonavena into the passing lane.

The trainer-driver admitted there were only millimetres between victory and an unlucky placing.

“To be honest, there would only have been millimetres in it; I was doing everything I could to get a run.”

“Luckily there was enough room to just get through, and once he balanced up, he sprinted up really nicely.”

Seventeen years after their last Group 1 success, Phil Williamson and Ricky May showed they're still a formidable combination at the elite level with their win in the K B Electrics Ace Of Hearts with Empire City.

With two horses in the event and Williamson’s sons Matthew and Brad starting their own runners in the race, the trainer was in need of a reinsman, and May was there to renew his association with the stable.

“Ricky's one of the all-time greats,” Williamson said.

“I try to deal in the best; my sons are phenomenal but it just worked out this way that Ricky got on her when the boys had their own, and it's turned out to be great.”

Williamson and May last combined for Group 1 glory with Allegro Agitato in the 2005 National Trot.

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