Auckland Reactor is ready for ultimate test

04:16 AM 17 Feb 2012 NZDT
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More bad luck for Auckland Reactor
More bad luck for Auckland Reactor - this time he's copped the 11 draw in the Ballarat Cup.

For a horse who wasn't even going to the Inter Dominions a week ago, Auckland Reactor will be ready to make a statement when the prestigious harness racing series starts tonight (Friday February 17).

Just 10 days ago trainer Mark Purdon admitted he wasn't sold on the wonderful pacer contesting the series after a rugged week in Melbourne and a flight back to New Zealand left him jaded.

But Auckland Reactor has rebounded so well Purdon expects punters to be able to back him with confidence in the opening round of the series at Gloucester Park tonight.

Auckland Reactor has drawn barrier three in the 1700m heat, which would be ideal if tight-track specialist Washakie hadn't drawn directly inside him.

That would seem to guarantee Washakie will hold the lead and try to snatch a winning break on the home bend, which he might be able to do if Auckland Reactor is still in recovery mode after his busy month.

Purdon, who is not in Perth because of commitments with races and sales back home, believes that is not the case. "I think he will be ready to win," he said.

"I know Washakie likes to lead but I think we can sit outside him and go very close to winning. "And if Washakie rolls along, that should stop any chance of us pulling, which would be ideal."

Auckland Reactor has travelled to Perth with Logan Hollis, who is the foreman for Purdon's part-time northern stable. "Logan is a good horseman and when he says the horse has settled in and is doing well I trust his opinion. "So I think he will race up to expectations tonight."

Victory for Auckland Reactor would defy a huge betting drift, as Washakie was plunged as soon as the markets opened on Tuesday and there will be plenty of tote punters willing to support him to lead throughout tonight as well.

Purdon's interest will be split tonight, as he also focuses on Alexandra Park where his exceptional 3-year-old filly Twist And Twirl steps up her Pascoes Northern Oaks campaign.

She was simply brilliant winning twice at the highest level in December and even from barrier eight she should win race eight tonight.

"She won't be at her peak because she hasn't raced for a while but she should still be good enough," said Purdon matter-of-factly.

"She just keeps taking that next step and is very good."

Later in the night stablemate Luby Ann gets a chance to end her Alexandra Park hoodoo in the penultimate leg of the $50,000 Pick6 on the 13-race card.

"She is headed for open class but is still learning right-handed. But she is getting better and will be hard to beat."

Andrew MORRIS

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