Day At The Track

Hall-of-Famer still has a thirst to drive

08:48 AM 23 Sep 2016 NZST
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Barry Purdon
Barry Purdon

Hall-of-Fame horseman Barry Purdon isn’t afraid to label Start Dreaming as the best mare he has trained. He’s also not afraid to put his hand up to drive the gifted 5-year-old this season.

“She’s the best pacer in our (25-strong) stable and would have to be the best mare I’ve had. I’ll probably drive her in the Spring Cup (September 30) and then we will plan it from there. Zac is currently in the United States but I wanted to drive her last week to see where she is at.

“You could see me driving a bit more this season. I’ve always loved competing and winning out on the track, but I’ve also believed in giving the young ones a fair go. They are our future,” Purdon said

Purdon only had 19 drives last season for three wins and seven placings. That equated to a healthy 0.3275 UDR strike-rate.

All-up since his junior driving days in 1974 Purdon has driven 604 winners from 2,156 drives. He’s also placed 839 times for $6.3 million in career stakes.

His best year in the sulky came in 1990-1991 when he drove 44 winners for a 0.3050 strike rate.

“I will be talking to Brian about the horse’s future, but you could see me out there a bit more this season. I’m still hungry for it,” Purdon hinted.

Brian is Brian West of Studholme Bloodstock, who bred and owns Start Dreaming. Purdon said the American Ideal mare would bypass the New Zealand Cup Carnival at Addington in November.

“We targeted last Friday’s race to see exactly where she was at and she has proven to us that she is certainly good enough to start in the Spring Cup. She’s up to that grade, in fact any grade.

“After the Spring Cup we will build towards the Queen Of Hearts at Alexandra Park in December and then possibly the Ladyship Mile. But she has only had one race back this campaign and we are getting a wee bit ahead of ourselves - but that’s our long-term plan, all going well,” said Purdon.

Last Friday Start Dreaming had her first race since February 28. That’s when she finished an unlucky fifth in the Ladyship Mile at Tabcorp Park, Menangle.

She went into the Sims Pacific Metals R76-R106 Pace with a win and a second behind Hughie Green at the Workouts.

Purdon sat in the one-one and when he stepped off the track his new stable star had reeled off one of the the fastest ever last 800m times recorded in New Zealand.

She paced the 2700m mobile 3:28.5 (mile rate 2:04.2) with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 53.7 and 27 flat.

“That was a pretty amazing last quarter and she felt real nice doing it. I don’t want to get too carried away but she is a very exciting race horse. She’s top of the pile in our barn, ahead of Hug The Wind and Ideal Belle,” said Purdon.

Start Dreaming has now won seven of her 18 starts and placed in six others for $173,282. Her biggest win came on February 20 this year when she nailed the Group Two Robin Dundee Classic at Tabcorp Park Menangle.

Her best performances in New Zealand came last year in the Northern Oaks and Harness Jewels 3yo Diamond, where she ran second and third respectively.

Start Dreaming is the second of five foals out of the 14-year-old In the Pocket mare, Simply Devine. Her bolder brother, My Style (by McArdle) has won four races in Australia.

Simply Devine has also left a 4-year-old Art Official mare named I’m A Dreamer, who has won one of his three starts for Leeston trainer, Hayden Galway.

She also has a 3-year-old Art Official colt named I’m A Dreamer, and a yearling Sportswriter colt named Power Dreaming. She is currently in foal to Bettor’s Delight.

Purdon has never won the Queen Of Hearts but his good mare Lancewood Lizzie won the Harness Jewels 4yo Ruby Final last year.

Duane Ranger

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