Racing: Difficult choice for punters in feature race tonight

By Michael Guerin

Arden's Choice driven by Barry Purdon. Photo / Greg Bowker
Arden's Choice driven by Barry Purdon. Photo / Greg Bowker

Not too long ago the thought of Arden's Choice matching it with Hughie Green was absurd.

However, the rapid improvement of one, the smallest of doubts over the other and the handicap start to the big pace at Alexandra Park tonight will see the pair locked together in the market.

Arden's Choice was a good but far-from-great filly last season when she left the All Stars stable to join Barry Purdon, who is honest about how he rated her. "She was obviously a good filly but coming from Mark's stable I was thinking it was going to be hard to get any improvement out of her," says Purdon.

"But this season it feels like she is getting better every time she goes to the track. She has strengthened up and turned into a really top mare and she can foot it with good horses now."

While Arden's Choice keeps improving, Hughie Green's life continues to be a rollercoaster, one that is giving punters motion sickness.

Good enough to split Have Faith In Me and Smolda in the Auckland Cup last December at his best, he was solid winning his comeback two starts ago then luckless last start.

That is Hughie, no doubting his ability but if there is trouble to be found he will find it. After all, he found the greyhound track at Addington two years ago.

Off a backmark of 35m in race seven tonight, if Hughie can step and get rolling he might have too much sheer class but if things don't go his way then the improvement in Arden's Choice could hit a new high.

She could be part of a big weekend for Purdon, who is expecting Jack's Legend to seal his trip to Addington for the Sires' Stakes Final by winning race two.

"He has done a very good job so far and has the gate speed to use his draw, so he should be very hard," says Purdon, about as close as he gets to declaring one a good thing.

Stable filly Lady Madonna brings the best formline to tonight's start of the fillies Sires' Stakes and Purdon says the race will be the perfect opportunity to see where she sits among the fillies.

"She has had two nice, easy comeback wins at Cambridge and has a lot going for her but it is an even field so I'm interested to see how she goes, too."

Purdon takes another greatly-improved pacer in The Faithful to Kaikoura on Monday and says the long straight will suit him, even off a backmark in the Sales Series Pace.

"He has definitely gotten stronger and while it won't be an easy race to win off 20m he is going well."

Tonight's main trot should see Blackguard's Corner continue his march through the classes but look for Scarrymcleary to start showing some form after he looked sharp at the workouts last Saturday.

Three of the best

• Best bet: Jack's Legend (Alex Park, R2): Sires' Stakes-bound and should lead and win.

• Suited: Crystal Sparkles (Alex Park, R5): Has the draw to get best trip of even bunch of fillies.

• Each-way: Toot Toot (Alex Park, R9): Drops into weaker maiden than last start with better draw.

- NZ Herald

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