Day At The Track

Purdon/Payne claim 3yo Gr honours, again

09:07 AM 23 Mar 2012 NZDT
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Trevor Casey Neil Pilcher, the co
Trevor Casey
Trevor Casey photo
Neil Pilcher, the co - owner of Smolda.
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There's seldom a premiere meeting go by when Rolleston harness racing trainers Mark Purdon and Grant Payne aren't picking up Group 1, 2, or 3 spoils. And that trend continued tonight (Friday March 23) at Addington Raceway when Purdon steered Smolda and Escapee to easy Group 2 and 3 victories respectively.

Smolda trailed his stablemate Fly Like An Eagle (Tony Herlihy) most of the way to win the Group Two $40,000 Vero Flying Stakes for 3yo pacers, while Escapee left them to it by 6-1/4 lengths in Group Three $25,000 New Zealand Trotting Oaks for 3yo fillies.

Smolda, a Courage Under Fire gelding, went into the race the winner of seven of his last eight starts including the Group Two Elsu Classic at Alexandra Park on December 16.

In the lane he out-muscled his stablemate (Fly Like An Eagle) to win by three quarters of a length in 2:23.2 (1950m mobile). The winning mile rate was 1:58.1, with final 800m and 400m sprints of 54.6 and 27.3 seconds.

He is now sure to start one of the favourites in next Friday's Group One $150,000 New Zealand Derby.

Smolda is owned by Mrs Glenys and Phil Kennard, Neil Pilcher, M. A. R. Kirkwood - and was bred by P.B. Blackshaw.

Meanwhile, the Trevor Casey owned and bred Escapee notched up her sixth win from 10 starts - and fifth in a row - when dealing to her eight filly opponents.

Purdon had her situated in the one-one and then parked down the back straight before running away from them in the straight to win ridiculously easy.

The daughter of Sundon trotted the 1950m mobile in 2:25.3 (mile rate: 1:59.8) - with final 800m and 400m sprints of 58.8 and 29.7.

It was Escapee's second Group Three victory in two months. On February 11 she had a two-length victory in the $25,000 Hambletonian Classic, at Ashburton.

Escapee almost looks a home run in next week's Group One $80,000 New Zealand Trotting Derby.

For the record Purdon and Payne trained five winners at Addington tonight. The others were Arden Tetrick (race one), Springsteen (race 3) and Three Pints (race 12).

The Kennards also have a share in Arden Tetrick, while Pilcher also has shares in Springsteen and Three Pints.

Casey is also a co-owner of Three Pints.


Top Trainer: Mark Purdon and Grant Payne 5 wins.

Top Driver: Blair Orange 3 winners.

Top Junior Driver: Mitchell Kerr 2 wins.

Top Sire: Bettor's Delight 2 wins.

Results from the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club's meeting raced at Addington Raceway tonight (Friday March 23, 2012) were:

Race 1: The Mark Purdon and Grant Payne trained ARDEN TETRICK (Bettor's Delight) Blair Orange.

Race 2: The Paul McCartin trained MC BLIZZARD (Dream Vacation) Peter Davis.

Race 3: The Mark Purdon and Grant Payne trained SPRINGSTEEN (American Ideal) Blair Orange.

Race 4: The Mark Purdon and Grant Payne trained ESCAPEE (Sundon) Mark Purdon.

Race 5: The Paul Kerr REAL KAMWOOD (Real Desire) Mitchell Kerr (j).

Race 6: The Mark Purdon and Grant Payne trained SMOLDA (Courage Under Fire) Mark Purdon.

Race 7: The Paul Nairn trained STIG (Armbro Invasion) David Butt.

Race 8: The Steven Reid trained GOLD ACE (Bettor's Delight) Peter Ferguson.

Race 9: The John Dickie trained PARAMOUNT GEEGEE (Pegasus Spur) Robbie Holmes.

Race 10: The Paul Kerr trained ALTA CHRSITIANO (Christian Cullen) Mitchell Kerr (j).

Race 11: The Gavin Cook trained TYLER FRANCO (McArdle) Aimee Edmonds.

Race 12: The Mark Purdon and Grant Payne trained THREE PINTS (Mach Three) Blair Orange.

Extensive results.

By Duane RANGER (editor)

Smolda winning tonight's Group Two $40,000 Vero Flying Stakes:

Escapee winning tonight's Group Three $25,000 New Zealand Trotting Oaks for 3yo fillies:

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