Day At The Track

Derby bound pacer working well

09:26 AM 23 Mar 2018 NZDT
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Barry Purdon and Zachary Butcher,Harness racing
Barry Purdon and Zachary Butcher

On The Cards is racing for more than just a winning stake at Alexandra Park tonight.

Because an impressive performance tonight will see the three-year-old book himself a trip to Christchurch for a New Zealand Derby which becomes far more attractive after losing it’s biggest star.

After Chase Auckland’s Northern Derby win two weeks ago he looked set to run the table in the three-year-old features but a slight injury last week has put him out of the Derby with the rest of his season in doubt.

With several other key defections at the highest level of the classic crop, all of a sudden horses who may not have been in the NZ Derby winner conversation a few months ago now have a huge carrot dangling in front of them in a few weeks.

Many of them meet in the Flying Stakes at Addington tonight, the scratching of Sheriff has left Pat’s Delight as the best and maybe only chance to halt the All Stars juggernaut, led tonight by Sicario (wide draw) and Anthem (good comeback winner last week).

But On The Cards could join that Derby party via a winning performance in race seven at Alexandra Park tonight.

 He was luckless in both the Northern Derby and its prelude but looks a top class three-year-old and when horses of his calibre drop back from Derbys to the type of race he is in tonight they usually win.

“He has to be hard to beat,” admits trainer Barry Purdon.

 “I thought he was very good in the Derby after working and he has worked on well since.” That should make him the Alexandra Park multi anchor for the night.

Purdon also holds a huge two-horse hand in race nine but says Opoutama rates higher than Raptor’s Flight at the moment.

 “Not that I am disappointed with him at all because he was fourth behind Star Galleria last start but the mare (Opoutama) has been racing so well and very consistently,” says Purdon.

The Alexandra Park meeting has its share of age group stars smattered throughout the programme but the Addington meeting will take centre stage, with the Flying Stakes all the more interesting with the three-year-old ranks looking more open now, albeit sadly for the connections of Chase Auckland.

 The draw for the NZ Trotting Oaks has not been kind to very classy northern filly Girls On Film, who will start from the outside of the front line with two very smart rivals in Renezmae (one) and Luby Lou (five) drawn to get far better runs, with the latter may having more scope.

 And the first race on a programme that starts unusually early sees Jessie Duke back after his jaw-dropping group one win at Alexandra Park last start, ensuring he will be everybody’s anchor to add a few percentage points to their multi bets.

Michael Guerin

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