Purdon upbeat about Spellbound's return

By Adam Hamilton 

Former Kiwi horseman Nathan Purdon is hoping to bounce-back from the disappointment of Victoria Cup night when star mare Spellbound resumes at Ballarat on Saturday night.

Purdon left Bendigo deflated last week after Amazing Dream tired for fourth after leading the Victoria Cup, while American Dealer ran miles below his best when ninth in the Victoria Derby.

“Again, for some reason, the mare just didn’t run anywhere near up to best in front. When she passed me with a lap to go, she had her ears pinned back and I knew we were in trouble even that far out,” he said.

“She was disappointing. She obviously prefers to chase down other horses and we know that pretty clearly now.

“American Dealer lost his chance when he didn’t get off the gate very quickly. He was in trouble from there, but still didn’t go as well as we hoped.

“It was a character-building night.

“They’ve come through it well, so we’re just pushing on. Amazing Dream will go to the Geelong Cup (Saturday week) and we’ll drop American Dealer back to restricted grade to try and get his confidence back with the Breeders Crown next month.”

Spellbound had five weeks in the paddock after a Queensland Winter raid and Purdon is buzzing about her return.

“She’s come back really well. I think she’s that little bit better again than last time,” he said. “She’s quite forward for this week.”

Spellbound has the back row (gate nine), but so too do the other class runners in Maajida (gate 11) and Enchanted Stride (10).

She’ll back-up in the $30,000 Group 3 Angelique Club Pace at Geelong Saturday week and then the $100,000 Group 1 Queen of the Pacific at Melton on October 30. Amazing Dream is headed for the same race.

Also at Ballarat on Saturday night, former Kiwi filly Queen Elida (gate three) is one of the major players along with Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin’s Banglez (gate two) in the $60,000 Group 1 Victoria Trotters’ Oaks.

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Chariots Of Fire winner Expensive Ego sharpens-up for a return to Group 1 racing when he resumes at Menangle on Saturday night.

Team McCarthy have been firm on a plan to give him just this one lead-up race into the $100,000 Group 1 Len Smith at Menangle on October 30.

“He’s been ready to go for a couple of weeks,” co-trainer Luke McCarthy said. “We decided against the Victoria Cup with him because he’s already had the Queensland trip.”

Expensive Ego is the class runner and a commanding $1.35 favourite from gate four in Saturday night’s $30,600 Group 3 Kevin Robinson Memorial (1609m).

It won’t be easy and they should run slick time with the rejuvenated Boncel Benjamin set to start from the pole, emerging mare The Stunning Nun (eight) and classy stablemates Spirit Of St Louis (10) and Alta Orlando (six).

The ripper Menangle card also features the semi-finals of the NSW Breeders Challenge series for two-year-olds where the headline acts – Smaltese and My Ultimate Byron – have both drawn the pole in their races.

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Briliant former Victorian pacer Hurricane Harley will be under the spotlight at his second WA start on Friday night.

Now with Justin Warwick, Hurricane Harley had to sit parked and ran a solid but not fantastic fifth on debut in WA.

The 1730m trip of Friday night’s $50,000 Group 2 Mount Eden Sprint suits, but Hurricane Harley has drawn wide (gate seven) with plenty of speed, most notably Vampiro (six) and Perfect Major (one) – inside him.

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One-time budding Kiwi superstar Turn It Up is drawn to complete a hat-trick of wins in a ripper 2138m free-for-all at Albion Park on Saturday night.

It’s definitely a step-up in grade on his two wins this campaign, but he’s got the huge advantage of the pole.

Key dangers look to be Blacksadance (gate eight), who is drawn to follow Turn It Up everywhere, Colt Thirty One (two) and the hugely exciting L L Cool J, who has a big task from outside the front row (seven).

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