Day At The Track

Mark Purdon adores Cup fancy

07:56 AM 06 Mar 2014 NZDT
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Kates First and her Artsplace filly foal
Kates First - 17 years since she won the Auckland Cup

Despite being beaten at Menangle trainer is confident top mare is ready for big effort.

Don't bother trying to tell trainer Mark Purdon that Adore Me is too young to win tomorrow night's Auckland Trotting Cup.

Because he knows 4-year-old mares can win the great race, the last time it happened he had a pretty close view.

Purdon ran a head second in the 1997 Cup with Brabham, beaten on the line by 4-year-old mare Kate's First, the older sister of the following year's winner, the great Christian Cullen.

And it isn't just a 17-year old memory that convinced Purdon to start Adore Me in tomorrow night's race just five days after she suffered only the third defeat of her career in Sydney on Sunday.

"I think she has shown she can run open-class times," says Purdon.

"So while it won't be easy I think she can win. She is a very special mare."

While Adore Me finished the bravest of seconds in a star-studded Northern Derby this time last year, she has rarely raced the boys, although she did beat Franco Nelson in the junior free-for-all on New Zealand Cup Day.


And she has taken on some of the big boys at the trials and thrashed them.

Last October she missed away in a 2400m trial at Ashburton yet still paced a 26.4-second last 400m to beat Auckland Cup rivals Mah Sish and Fly Like An Eagle.

She should be a stronger and more well-rounded mare now and Purdon is not concerned by the quick turnaround from racing on Sunday at Menangle, where she worked hard three wide in a 1:52.1 mile and was run down into second late.

"She has arrived in Auckland looking great and even after her race in Sydney on Sunday she was bouncing around that night.

"And it was only a mile, whereas a horse like Terror To Love had to race over 3000m on Sunday."

Purdon still respects the three-time New Zealand Cup winner as the rival to beat tomorrow night and says the key will be staying in front of him.

"I expect horses like Fly Like An Eagle and Mah Sish to cross me early, so I don't think I will be burning with them," he admits.

"If the speed is on I don't think there will be too many moves but if I have to come at the bell and sit parked she is good enough to do that."

And Purdon has another, not so public reason, for feeling confident Adore Me can give him his fourth Auckland Cup training victory.

Just 10 days ago he worked her with Smolda at Addington and the pair hit the line together at the end of a searching 2400m in 3:01.

Smolda has since finished a brave fourth in the Inter Dominion Final on Sunday before returning home to Canterbury but if he was in tomorrow's Cup and drawn barrier two he would be clear favourite.

"There is nothing between them," says Purdon.

Adore Me is the second favourite for the Cup, opening at $3.60 behind Terror To Love at $2.80.

Just to reaffirm Purdon's confidence she can beat the boys in a major staying test, after tomorrow's race he intends setting her for another clash with Terror To Love in the Easter Cup.

Auckland Cup Week

• What: Auckland Trotting Cup.
• Where: Alexander Park.
• When: Tomorrow night 8:25pm.
• Who: Adore Me versus Terror To Love and the best pacers in New Zealand

Courtesy of The New Zealand Herald

Read more by Michael Guerin


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