Racing: Purdon plucks three rich plums at Melton

By Michael Guerin

Mark Purdon. Photo / Stuart McCormick
Mark Purdon. Photo / Stuart McCormick

Mark Purdon has no regrets not to be hunting down the toughest record in harness racing.

Even though he knows his Breeders Crown winner Waikiki Beach should be on the doorstep of greatness.

He ended his 3-year-old season with one of his bravest performances, leading throughout after copping enormous pressure to win A$185,000 group one at Melton.

That took Waikiki Beach's record to an extraordinary 23 wins from 24 starts, his sole defeat coming in a nothing Tuesday race at Menangle, when he was clearly underdone.

Had Waikiki Beach won that race he would now be unbeaten in his first 24 starts, a record famous in New Zealand racing as the number Courage Under Fire compiled to begin his career. "Maybe he should be unbeaten but that sort of thing doesn't bother us much," said Purdon.

"They all get beaten some day and it was just one of those things.

"So that pressure is not on him any more and he can start his next season as a very good horse but with no records to worry about."

Waikiki Beach will return to New Zealand for a six-week spell in the almost unbelievable situation of not being the stable's highest rated 4-year-old of the new season.

That honour lies with three-time Derby winner Lazarus, who is the second favourite for the New Zealand Cup, a race Waikiki Beach has not been nominated for.

"They will clash eventually, maybe in a race like the Chariots Of Fire in Sydney next March but not in the open class races this year.

"And while we are aiming Lazarus at the Cup races, I still think there is nothing between them and when they do meet it might just be the horse who gets the better run."

Waikiki Beach was part of a rich Purdon treble yesterday, better than he expected because of tough draws and good local opposition.

Harness Jewels winner Partyon remained unbeaten by leading throughout in her A$280,000 two-year-old fillies' final, blasting to the lead from the outside of the front line.

Early aggression also proved the key for stablemate Custodian in the juvenile trot, when he pressured key rival Illawong Byron, who broke, leaving Custodian to win untested.

The day started well for the Kiwis too when Wilma's Mate outstayed High Gait in the 3-year-old fillies' trot in one of the performances of the day.

- NZ Herald

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