Turn It Up resumes
By Michael Guerin
A workout today will determine whether Auckland Cup winner Turn It Up has a radical shot at the Easter Cup.
Because if training legend Mark Purdon is happy with the horse who might just be the best pacer in the country, Turn It Up could go fresh up into the Easter Cup without a start in three months.
Still the veteran of only 10 starts, Turn it Up hasn’t raced since winning the Flying Mile at Cambridge on January 11, 12 days after he won the Auckland Cup.
He has already had the better of both Miracle Mile winner Spankem and New Zealand Cup hero Thefixer this season so an Easter Cup win could earn him crucial votes in the Horse of the Year.
But even for Purdon attacking a group one 3200m standing start fresh-up with a four-year-old, who would be up against horses like Thefixer and Jacks Legend, is a stretch.
“You wouldn’t try it with most horses but he doesn’t carry any extra weight and he is one horse who could do it,” said the master trainer.
“So I will know a lot more after the workouts (today) at Rangiora. If I am happy with him then we will probably go down the Easter Cup path.
“If we are not he can go to the Rangiora Classic a week later.”
While Turn It Up hasn’t raced for nearly three months in that time Thefixer has raced five times, including two wins and a second in the Miracle Mile.
He returns at Addington in the Superstars Championships on Friday night up against a rampant Jacks Legend with Purdon admitting the NZ Cup winner could be vulnerable, especially as the pair have drawn the outside two spots on the front line.
“He has done very, very well since he came home from Sydney so he will definitely improve with the run this week.”
While harness punters may still be stinging from Ultimate Sniper’s expensive failure after galloping in last Friday’s Flying Stakes at Addington, Purdon says he has little option but to turn the page.
“I can’t put it down to anything,” he says of the three-year-old who had won seven of his eight previous starts.
“It wasn’t like he was being rushed off the gate at the time, Tim (Williams, driver) had a nice hold on him so there was no reason for him to get unbalanced.
“And he wasn’t sore or anything like that and I am even thinking of asking the stewards if I can see the head-on footage to see if I can detect anything there.”
With no explanation as to why Ultimate Sniper galloped and lost all chance, Purdon has little option but to press on to the New Zealand Derby on April 5, for which he is the $1.85 favourite.
That April 5 Derby meeting also hosts the New Zealand Trotting Champs, which will see the first ever clash of Monbet, Marcoola and Speeding Spur, our best three trotters in the last five years.
But they could be joined by two Purdon-Rasmussen trained four-year-olds, one not unexpected the other a real surprise.
“We are looking at starting both Winterfell and Kings Landing in the Trotting Championships,” revealed Purdon.
“Winterfell was a touch disappointing last Friday but needed the run while Kings Landing has really impressed me, he feels like a good horse.
“So they can take on the top trotters next week and see how they measure up.”
On the subject of top trotters HRNZ bosses are thrilled by the possibility leading Australian trainer Emma Stewart could aim a team to the Harness Jewels at Addington on June 1, headlined by her exciting three-year-old trotter Alpha Male.
Stewarts usually only trains pacers but Alpha Male’s last start win was so stunning she has indicated to HRNZ she is keen to bring him to Addington and could find others in her team who are the right fit for the $1.275million meeting.