Racing: Purdon brings huge team to park tonight

By Michael Guerin

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

It will be back to the future for champion horseman Barry Purdon at Alexandra Park tonight and punters should jump on for the ride.

Purdon will line up 14 horses in the first eight races, one of the biggest teams he has taken to an Alexandra Park meeting in years.

He took only slightly smaller numbers to the last meeting there two weeks ago and such representation was common when he and father Roy trained in partnership in the 1980s and 90s.

He has since streamlined his operation but his strike rate of actual runners to horses in the stable must be enormous judging by the two truckloads he will bring in tonight.

"To have 14 at one meeting is a big number for us but seven of them are two-year-olds," said Purdon. "We have been lucky in that regard, a lot of this season's babies have got to the races quickly."

That never does the stable any harm heading into the yearling sales in 10 days but Purdon says it doesn't make the job of assessing his juveniles' chances any easier tonight.

He has three favoured runners in the male Young Guns heat and rates South Beach Arden (1) at around the same stage as big-money purchase Mach Shard (5). "They are both slightly ahead of the other horses and I really can't split them but the draws suggest South Beach Arden might be the better chance."

Purdon's two-year-old fillies are split two each in the fillies heats of the Young Guns and the master rates Bounty Lady (R6, No.6) as perhaps the most advanced. "She has won her trial and done it well but the other three were good at the workouts last weekend too. But she is the best chance of the fillies this week."

With so many winning chances, including Circles (race one) and Quevert (race three) it is a little surprising Purdon, who never likes labelling one stable rep above another, rates maiden Lareto a major chance against race winners in the Nevele R Fillies heat.

"She is a nice filly who went well last start and has some speed so has to be a good chance with any luck."

Tonight's meeting throws up some tricky puzzles for punters, none more so than race three where the better trotters like Prime Power, Blackguard's Corner, Quevert and Foray face hefty handicaps over 2200m.

"When I looked at the distance and saw it was 2200m I thought we might be off 30m but 40m makes it really tough," says Prime Power's trainer Todd Mitchell.

"He has been stepping well so hopefully we can get past a few early."

Race eight is similar, with some handy horses drawn well on the front meaning the better-performed Stroke Of Luck and Prince Of Pops could struggle from the second line in what could be a 2:40 or even faster 2200m.

Meanwhile, there are no concerns with Lazarus's draw when the wonder pacer tackles the A$200,000 Chariots of Fire in Sydney tomorrow night but the race still presents come challenges.

Not only does he faces a 1:49.2 miler in Salty Robyn but Sydney is forecast for 40C-plus tomorrow, hardly ideal for any New Zealand-trained horse.

Trainer Mark Purdon is happy barrier four gives him options but Lazarus punters will be hoping the hard fortnight and travel from Melbourne to Sydney this week haven't dulled the NZ Cup winner.

Harness weekend

Alexandra Park and Addington tonight.

Lazarus headlines NZ team at Menangle tomorrow night, racing at 11.25pm (NZ time)

- NZ Herald

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