Day At The Track

Purdon's park

04:00 PM 22 Nov 2016 NZDT
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Barry Purdon - master trainer
Barry Purdon - master trainer
Duane Ranger photo

After maintaining a stranglehold on the training and driving premierships for more than a decade at Alexandra Park, Tony Herlihy’s (MNZM) success could be stymied by his brother-in-law Barry Purdon, who lives just 10 minutes away.

Clevedon-based Hall-Of-Famer, Purdon, leads all three premierships at Alexandra Park. When he was informed of his success he was a tad baffled.

“Are you sure that’s right? I’d still love to be a junior driver and I’d love to be on top. Wow what a thought to have might lifetime ahead of me again,” Purdon joked.

But it was advice handed down to the North Island’s leading junior driver by Purdon that has ensured Sean Grayling’s success.

Grayling had committed to a job at Paul Fitzpatrick’s stable in New South Wales last month but after talking to his mentor and boss, he made a last-minute decision to stay at home.

“It’s the best advice I’ve ever had. Barry is a ‘master trainer’ and you never get sick of listening to him. He said my time would come for overseas. Barry has put a lot of faith in me and I’m just rapt I can repay him back with some wins.

“Amanda Kiddie has also been kind to me. I just want to thank Barry, Amanda and all the owners who have put me on. Staying home is starting to pay dividends for me,” 20-year-old Grayling said.

He’s now won nine races in 2016-2017 – the same as his personal best he achieved last season from 63 drives. He’s had 41 drives in almost five months this season.

Eight of them have come at Alexandra Park.

Then there’s Purdon’s number one stable driver, Zac Butcher who is ‘The Park’s’ leading open driver with 14 wins – two more than the current Alexandra Park champion, Herlihy.

Grayling and Butcher’s wins would never have happened had Purdon’s team not been the strongest it has in decades.

Purdon leads the training premiership at Alexandra Park with 15 wins – four more than Herlihy.

“I’ve got to win something. Tony’s been winning everything up here. it’s about time he shared it around,” said Purdon, who’s younger sister Suzanne is married to Herlihy.

On a serious note Purdon said he owed the success to his hard-working staff and loyal band of owners.

“The owners have been more supportive than ever, especially in recent seasons. They have bought about 17 horses from the Sales in the last four years, and some of those youngsters are really starting to show some potential.

“You are also nothing without staff and our team have been exceptional. Congratulations go to Zac and Sean because they are very keen and enthusiastic about everything they do,” Purdon said.

Purdon has trained 21 winners from 41 starters in 2016-2017 and has an amazing 0.4580 strike rate. He currently sits fourth on the New Zealand training premiership – six behind Greg and Nina Hope.

All up he’s trained 2,388 career winners since 1977 – 1,463 with his father Roy (MBE), 122 with Scott Phelan, and 803 in his own name.

Grayling sits second on the national junior driving premiership with nine wins – eight behind Otago’s Rory McIlwrick. He’s now saluted the judge times 24 since he started driving in 2013.

As for Butcher, he has now driven 21 winners nationally and is 28 behind pace-setter, Dexter Dunn. Career-wise Butcher has driven 532 winners since 2008.

Meanwhile, the Auckland Trotting Club’s Racing manager Kevin Smith reminded people that initial nominations for the Auckland Cup and the National Trot close this Friday at 11am.

“There is no nomination fee or sustaining payment if nominated by this date. Noms can come through to our racing office line via (09) 631 1163,” Smith said.

His Racing Assistant, Regan Cotter, also commented on the Purdon dominance at ‘Northern Headquarters’ in 2016-2017.

“Barry is on fire in trainers and Zac is leading Tony in open drivers premiership, while Sean Grayling is ticking along quite nicely for a junior with eight wins already this season.

“Well done to all,” Cotter said.

 

ALEXANDRA PARK’S TOP 10 DRIVERS (as at today, November 21):

1) Zac Butcher 14 wins.

2) Tony Herlihy (MNZM) 12.

3) David Butcher 11.

4) Maurice McKendry 10.

5) Josh Dickie 9.

6) Sean Grayling (j) 8.

7) Phil Butcher and Brent Mangos 5.

9) Todd Mitchell 4.

10) Jay Abernethy, Sailesh Abernathy, Rob Argue, Richard Brosnan, Arna Donnelly, Dylan Ferguson (j), Todd MacFarlane, Jack MacKinnon, Kyle Marshall, Andrew Neal and Scott Phelan - all 2 wins each.

 

TOP 10 TRAINERS:

1) Barry Purdon 15.

2) Tony Herlihy 11.

3) John & Josh Dickie 10.

4) Steven Reid & Simon McMullan 8.

5) Ray Green 7.

6) Brian Hughes and Michelle Wallis/Bernie Hackett 5.

8) Richard Brosnan, Frank Cooney, Arna Donnelly, Logan Hollis/Shane Robertson and Brent Mangos - all 3 wins each.

 

JUNIOR DRIVERS:

1) Sean Grayling 8.

2) Rob Argue, Jack MacKinnon and Dylan Ferguson - two wins each.

5) Rest = 0 wins.

 

Duane Ranger

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