Day At The Track

Major picks his 'Mark' before heading home

03:57 AM 10 Feb 2011 NZDT
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Mark Purdon
Mark Purdon
Duane Ranger photo

Star three-year-old pacer Our Major Mark may not be at the forefront of harness racing trainer/driver Mark Purdon's thoughts approaching Saturday night's(February 12) Harry Whiting Memorial Silver Vase at Terang, but there's a very good reason why not.

Some six hours earlier, the leading Kiwi horseman will partner Auckland Reactor at Ashburton in the champion pacer’s first start since a failed North American campaign, en route to what looms as a career defining crack at the upcoming Christchurch Inter Dominion.

But with his best classic age pacer conspicuously left to continue his own preparation on these shores following two solid efforts through the recent SKY Racing Nights Of Glory carnival, Purdon explained why he’ll be spreading his focus across both sides of the Tasman this weekend.

“It’s obviously going to be a very exciting weekend for us,” the gun conditioner revealed. “Auckland Reactor’s trained exceptionally since his first trial, so we’re really looking forward to making a start with him on Saturday.

“Our Major Mark is still over with you guys (in Australia) because he’s a highly assessed horse, a six-win horse over here (New Zealand) which means he has to take on some pretty nice intermediate grade horses.

“Under the Australian handicapping system, he comes in very well. So rather than take him home and not race until the (New Zealand) Derby, we thought we’d give him another couple of runs before we bring him back.”

Having snagged the polemarking draw for the 3CO to 3C2, 2180-metre assignment this Saturday night, the Alabar Victoria Derby fourth-placegetter looks superbly placed to return to the winners list for the first time this season.

But with Kerryn Manning’s recent revelation The Ragpickers Dream (seven) and tough types like Farmersntradies (nine) and King Grin (three) engaged, it won’t be any walk in the park for the striking son of Art Major.

Whatever the outcome at Terang however, Purdon is just hoping the former brilliant juvenile can improve on his last start effort on Hunter Cup night as part of the journey to their ultimate goal; the Group 1 New Zealand Derby.

“He (Our Major Mark) hasn’t had a lot of racing this season so the Victoria Derby might have come a bit soon and we were pretty happy with his run,” he said.

“All things being equal and as long as he runs well on Saturday night we’ll push on to the Caduceus Club (Cup) and then set him for a real crack at the big Derby back home.”

The Silver Vase is one of two leading support races to the $25,000 Terang & District Co-Op Pacing Cup at Dalvui Raceway on Saturday night and is scheduled to run at 7:30pm.

By Jason BONNINGTON

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