True Fantasy poised to bounce back
By Michael Guerin
The torrential rain that has caused havoc across the north over the last week may have saved True Fantasy’s $150,000 Pascoes Northern Oaks campaign.
Not because trainer-driver Mark Purdon is expecting or hoping for a wet track at tonight’s star-studded Alexandra Park meeting but because the autumn rain may have cured an ill affecting the Oaks favourite.
True Fantasy has been red hot for most of the Oaks build-up until she finished unplaced for the first time in her career last start against many of tonight’s rivals.
Purdon found both True Fantasy and open class stablemate Spankem had been troubled by their paddocks turning into dust bowls during the very dry end to the Auckland summer, causing respiratory issues.
“The dust got to the stage where every time they rolled in their paddocks there were standing in dust clouds after and breathing it in,” explains Purdon.
“It caused them both issues but after the rain came last Friday and dampened all that down they have been a lot better and we got them scoped (breathing examination) on Tuesday and True Fantasy was back to normal and Spankem almost there.”
While that hardly sounds an ideal build-up to tonight’s Oaks, especially over 2700m mobile, Purdon says True Fantasy’s work has been outstanding, it is just her high-end performance that was being affected.
“She is very well and feels ready to win but of course you have doubts over 2700m. But I know she is fit and well now and I think she is still the best filly.”
Aiding True Fantasy is the fact the next best filly in the Oaks, Remember Me has also been under a form cloud after a torrid NSW campaign. True Fantasy also has the ace draw.
That will see Purdon try and lead but even if she is crossed at the start True Fantasy has enough respect banked away to probably re-take the lead and from there it will take a good filly to beat her.
Still, with her interrupted preparation and short odds, those who want to back True Fantasy may be wise to have small saving investments on the likes of Mr Kaplan, Miki Montana or last Friday’s impressive prelude winner First Rose.
While True Fantasy has had her issues heading into the Oaks, stablemate Akuta looked spot on for tonight’s $250,000 Woodlands Northern Derby and should win.
He came from last to blow most of these rivals away last Friday and Purdon’s only concern is a likely tactically tricky Derby.
“I think Beach Ball will lead from barrier 1 and there will be no handing up so while we will be handy I’d like to have some cover starting the last lap,” he offers.
“But if we have to sit parked outside Beach Ball the last lap I’d like to think he could still win.”
Beach Ball was brave in last Friday’s prelude and being on the marker pegs is usually a huge Derby advantage but he will have plenty of swoopers in close attendance, including the greatly improved Bollinger potentially trailing him and he becomes the most likely upset win hope after a brave last-start Cambridge win.
Purdon was impressed with the debut run of Beckham last Friday and believes the juvenile can improve and be a winning hope in the Breckon Farms Final, the first major juvenile race of the season.
But his chances, in fact the whole race, may come down to who lands where after 400m as the 1700m dash will enormously favour the leader and trailer but be hard to win from any other position.