Champion juvenile Follow The Stars has had to bow to stablemate Linda Lovegrace in their final public outing before heading to Australia for the Breeders Crown.
And their trainer Mark Purdon wasn’t surprised.
The pair have A$650,000 worth of ABC races ahead of them in the next month and warmed up for their trip to Victoria by finishing only a nose apart at the Ashburton trials on Tuesday.
The fact the filly could even keep up with Follow The Stars, who has looked freakish this juvenile season, might surprise some but Purdon says Linda Lovegrace has been a huge improver.
“She is definitely a better filly now than say Jewels time,” said Purdon.
“She is the one from our team that has really gone on in leaps and bounds.” Purdon is also happy with Follow The Stars, who hasn’t raced since being knocked out of the Jewels, his only defeat.
Both juveniles won their ABC heats at Addington in walkovers.
They will fly out to Melbourne next week with Follow The Stars likely to race in Victoria before the pair contests ABC semi-finals at Ballarat on August 16.
They will be joined in Purdon’s care by Arya, Kept Under Wraps and Iceobar, but Vicbred Final-winning three-year-old Messini may stay with ex-pat trainer Brent Lilley, who has been looking after most of Purdon’s Victorian team in the last month.
Lilley trained Kept Under Wraps to beat Australia’s best juvenile Birdy Mach in an ABC heat at Shepparton on Tuesday night, suggesting Purdon may have the two favourites for the juvenile division.
Purdon says his main NZ Cup hopes Smolda and Adore Me look great, with Smolda only a month away for the trials whereas Adore Me, because she raced later into the season, will not start until October.
By Michael Guerin (Harness Racing New Zealand)