Racing: Purdon drawn to despair

By Michael Guerin

Trainer was looking forward to a big Sunday but may now require some divine assistance.

Cheer The Lady (No8) will still be favourite despite a bad draw in her Breeders Crown final on Sunday.  Photo / Stuart McCormick
Cheer The Lady (No8) will still be favourite despite a bad draw in her Breeders Crown final on Sunday. Photo / Stuart McCormick

Training legend Barry Purdon's dream Breeders Crown campaign has hit some serious speed bumps.

Purdon has reminded harness fans on both sides of the Tasman in the past fortnight of his special gift for peaking horses for the big-money races, having five starters in Victoria for four wins and a luckless second heading into Sunday's rich ABC finals day.

While Purdon has the likes of Sky Major and Cheer The Lady in perfect condition, after a painful 30 minutes on Sunday they might need more than Purdon's genius to win their Breeders Crown finals.

The pair, and stablemate Maxim, all drew the second line in their Breeders Crown finals at Sunday's barrier draw function.

Sky Major, an effortless semifinal winner, drew two on the second line and Maxim further out in their A$302,000 group one but that wasn't the really bad news.

What had Purdon shaking his head was the Belinda McCarthy-trained trio of Bling It On (1), All Eyes On Us (2) and Lettucerockthem (5) drawing to control the race.

On raw talent there is little between the two camps of juveniles but on a track with a distinct lead-trail advantage like Melton, Purdon's pair now face a huge task.

Cheer The Lady was so dominant winning her heat on Sunday and meets only an average bunch of 4-year-old mares that even from the second line she is still the $2.60 favourite to repeat her win of last season.

While Purdon's trio were luckless in the draws, Kiwi 3-year-old Bit Of A Legend secured the front-line barrier he needed to open one of the shortest favourites in ABC history.

After a 13m semifinal win on Saturday, Bit Of A Legend drew barrier five and the Australian TAB has opened him $1.10 to defend the title he won against far stronger opposition last season.

His stablemate Safedra looks a place chance at best after drawing the second line in a 3-year-old fillies final dominated by Frith at $1.40, while juvenile filly Te Amo Bromac also faces a second-line draw but in a weak A$302,000 final.

Her stablemate Daenerys Targaryen has the advantage of the ace in the A$158,000 juvenile trot final but will need it against local star I'm Stately (4) and Harness Jewels winner One Over Da Moon, who will start from the unruly.

One of the stars of the ABC carnival so far, Auckland-owned Ideal Scott, is a $1.80 to win the 4-year-old final after drawing the ace, with the Kumeu-trained Besotted third favourite after a gutsy third in his Australian debut on Sunday.

The New Zealand TAB is moving to provide punters who shy away from very short-priced harness racing favourites with another option.

Bookmakers will now frame fixed odds markets without the favourite when the top pick opens shorter than $1.50.

While the TAB often gets hit hard by bigger punters on hot harness favourites, smaller punters are reluctant to back $1.50 or shorter chances or bet against them.

So, starting this week, the TAB will open favourite-out markets, which means they will have prices for the rest of the field without the hot favourite and you win if that horses wins or runs second to the hot favourite.

In 57 harness races so far this season there have been five $1.50 fixed odds favourites and four have won, the other running second.

However, the number of hotpots will increase once the stars return to the track, especially the age-group pacers coming back into grade racing.

- NZ Herald

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