Day At The Track

Purdon to make amends in Golden Nugget

07:27 PM 07 Dec 2017 NZDT
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Ultimate Machete, harness racing
Ultimate Machete
Gloucester Park Photo

Champion New Zealand harness racing trainer-reinsman Mark Purdon was disappointed when his horse Mr Mojito, the 2-1 favourite, hung in badly in the final circuit and finished fifth behind Soho Tribeca in the Golden Nugget last December and he is full of confidence he will make amends by driving the brilliant Ultimate Machete to victory in the $200,000 Retravision Golden Nugget at Gloucester Park on Friday night.

“I’m looking forward to Ultimate Machete lining up in the Nugget; he’s in a really good place,” Purdon said.

Ultimate Machete, a runaway winner of the Group 1 Yes Loans Four-Year-Old Classic last Friday week, will dominate betting on the 2536m event after drawing perfectly at barrier one on the front line.

He also began from the No. 1 barrier in the Four-Year-Old Classic when he led for the first 150m before being crossed by Rock Diamonds. Purdon then immediately eased Ultimate Machete off the pegs and dashed the horse to the front 350m later, with the lead time a sizzling 34.6sec.

Ultimate Machete was not extended as he sped over the final quarters in 28.2sec. and 28sec. and he beat the strong-finishing Handsandwheels by just under four lengths, rating 1.53.8 over the 2130m. A week before that he was in Christchurch where he raced without cover before bursting to the front in the final stages to win the group 1 Woodlands New Zealand Free-For-All at Addington, rating 1.51.9 over 1950m and beating the pacemaker Tiger Tara.

He is a half-brother to the West Australian owned and trained mare Major Reality, who will contest the Group 1 $125,000 Mares Classic earlier in the 11-event program.

Major Reality, trained and driven by Justin Prentice, has earned $389,739 from 20 wins and nine placings from 37 starts. Her victories include the 2015 WA Oaks, the Norms Daughter Classic and Empress Stakes in 2016 and the Golden Girls Classic at Pinjarra in March of this year.

Major Reality will be fancied from her favourable barrier at No. 2 on the front line. She also started from barrier two in the Mares Classic 12 months ago when she raced without cover early before being shuffled back to tenth.

Purdon also has high hopes of victory in the Mares Classic on Friday night. He will handle five-year-old A Piccadilly Princess, who will start from the inside of the back line, immediately behind speedy beginner and noted frontrunner Eden Franco.

A Piccadilly Princess warmed up for this event in fine style last Friday night when she started favourite at 10/9 on from barrier two in the Parliamentarians Cup. She dashed to the front after 400m and gave a bold frontrunning display to win easily from Ideal Alice and Ameretto, rating 1.55.8 over 2130mk.

A Piccadilly Princess was the 2/1 on favourite in last year’s Mares Classic when she was fourth, one-out and one-back at the bell before she locked wheels with another runner and met severe interference in the home straight. She dropped back to finish at the rear.

She now has a record of 38 starts for 16 wins, eight seconds and a third for stakes of $681,718. She should enjoy an ideal passage and prove very hard to beat this week. Her chief rivals could be Ameretto and Ideal Alice.

Ameretto, a six-year-old trained and driven by Kerryn Manning, will start from barrier five on the front line and she is likely to be sent forward in the early stages in a bid for the lead or for the breeze. She had a tough run in the breeze for much of the way when a fighting third behind A Piccadilly Princess last Friday night.

That followed Ameretto’s victory in the Norms Daughter Classic a week earlier when she raced wide early and then in the breeze before surging to the front 700m from home.

Ken Casellas

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