May to partner Sky Major in Derby

12:29 PM 10 Apr 2014 NZST
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Sky Major - Breeders Crown.png
Sky Major - will be partnered by Ricky May in tomorrow's Derby.

Barry Purdon has gone to the bench and called in a super-sub for Friday night's Group I New Zealand Derby at Addington.

One of the most successful horseman in Derby history, Purdon has enlisted champion reinsman Ricky May to drive his charge Sky Major in the $175,000 event.

Initially the North Island horseman came south with a view to driving the Group I winner himself, but May's availability proved too good to pass up on.

"I want to give the horse the best possible opportunity," Purdon said yesterday.

"Ricky is one of the best in the business, it makes sense to use him.

"He knows all the opposition and their racing styles and he's one of our best in the big races."

Purdon's record in the Derby is exemplary, although he hasn't started a horse in New Zealand's greatest three-year-old race since The Cavalier (11th), who he trained in partnership with Scott Phelan, ran in the 2008 edition, and then you have to go back to 2004 to find his next starters; High Calibre (9th) and Derek Bromac (11th).

Purdon's five winners came during the 90s, including a golden period where he and his father Roy won four consecutive editions of the race with Kiwi Scooter (1992), Mark Roy (1993), Ginger Man (1994) and Il Vicolo (1995).

He was successful on his own accord with Holmes DG in 1998.

For May, the race hasn't been quite so kind.

He's yet to claim a victory in 22 attempts with just three placings on Spring Alot (2004), Colonel Anvil (1999) and Happy Patron (1986) all he has to show for his efforts - a remarkable statistic considering some of the three-year-olds he has driven in his career.

A brave fifth placing in last week's Flying Stakes gives Sky Major more than an outside chance of beating some of his talented opposition, although an outside barrier draw hasn't exactly helped. "We haven't had a great run of barrier draws with him," Purdon said.

"But it could turn out to be a good one if there is plenty of speed in the race, Ricky's patient driving style could work right in our favour. He was super last week I thought, he just had to do too much work, but he has come through that run really well.

"Now we just need that luck to fall our way."

While one Purdon had to scratch his head at yet another average barrier draw, another was smiling after some good fortune.

Purdon's brother Mark will line up four horses in the race as he shoots for his third consecutive victory and his 12th victory overall as either a trainer or a driver.

And all four have drawn inside the first five marbles with Messini going from barrier one, Aldo Rossi barrier two, Isaiah barrier four and Alleluia barrier five.

 
 
 
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