Nathan Purdon has some bad news for his dad — but news that should make punters feel far more comfortable heading into the first Group 1 of the New Zealand season at Alexandra Park tonight.
Nathan co-trains red-hot favourite Krug in the $140,000 Sires' Stakes Final, which is actually the two-year-old final carried over from last season when it was postponed back in May because of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Krug's grip on the race has only improved since as he has gone from strength to strength and has drawn the front line in tonight's 1700m sprint in which he meets a remarkable seven horses trained by Nathan's father, Mark.
Although champion trainer Mark has the numbers on his side, Nathan has the firepower to fight them off and says Krug is the best he has been all campaign, daunting for his rivals considering he is unbeaten in four starts since returning.
The most telling of those wins came at Addington two starts ago when Krug crossed a recalcitrant It's All About Faith, the best of the Purdon-Rasmussen youngsters, at the start and easily held him out to win a heat of this series.
As good as that was, Nathan says his stable star is better now. Much better.
"I wasn't that confident that night because he had had some issues," he admits. "And even when he won up here [Alexandra Park] last start he wasn't screwed down because he had travelled up that week and was still settling in.
"But he is right at his peak now. He has settled in and that has allowed me to train him how I want and his work on Wednesday was very good."
Krug has such high gate speed he is expected to lead from barrier six but the biggest concern may be how hard those inside him fight for the treasured spot on his back, with a hot early tempo potentially leaving them vulnerable to It's All About Faith, who is by far the best of the All Star's seven representatives.
But it would take something special and a new career high from It's All About Faith to beat Krug unless things get really silly at the front.
American Dealer looks the value place option as he has the gate speed and respect to potentially secure an early lead he would most likely gift to Krug, while Nevada has been solid with no luck in his last three starts and appeals as the one most likely to add value to the trifecta.
While Krug has been push button for Nathan Purdon, stablemate Fabrizio has been anything but, yet the young trainer thinks a trick he learned watching the gallops on television recently might help.
Fabrizio burned punters by refusing to go away last start and has a penchant for rearing when not in the mood so Purdon has placed a shadow roll above the four-year-old's eyes, rather than where they are usually placed further down the nose.
"I saw a galloper with it like that on TV recently and they explained it was to stop him rearing up because it can't see what is above it," he explains. "We have fitted one to his bridle and he hasn't reared up since so I am hoping that helps him behave this week."
The best version of Fabrizio can beat former Auckland Cup placegetters Triple Eight and Star Galleria as the latter pair face 35m handicaps in the open pace, their backmarks meaning mid-race moves to drag them into the race will be crucial to the outcome.
Punting at the park
1: The standing-start manners of Bolt For Brilliance (R8, No 4) could determine tonight's main trot. If he begins safely he should win but being drawn down low in the 20m mark is less than ideal.
2: General Montana (R3, No 4) may have a zero next his name but showed plenty in that last start failure. The three-year-old had huge gate speed before an early break in a Sires' Stakes heat and that could see him lead and win back in maiden grade.
3: Punters could profit from Mr Fantastic (R9, No 1) not being in the Sires' Stakes as he looks to have the gate speed to lead or trail tonight and beat some smart youngsters last start. He looked ready at the workouts last week.