Day At The Track

Jack's Legend's unusual path to Cup racing

08:38 PM 28 Dec 2017 NZDT
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Jack's Legend,Harness Racing
Jack's Legend

There is a little bit of Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling about Jack’s Legend’s Auckland Trotting Cup bid on Sunday.

But even champion trainer Barry Purdon admits his talented pacer might struggle to get the same result as the now famed Irish raider.

In case you have forgotten, it has been less than two months since Rekindling won the Melbourne Cup as officially a four-year-old even though, being Northern Hemisphere bred, he doesn’t physically turn four until March 23 next year.

Jack’s Legend also had a decent November, finishing second to Lazarus in the New Zealand Cup and is in the same boat, racing as a four-year-old when he is also bred to Northern Hemisphere time and doesn’t actually turn four until next Friday.

“He has done a super job when you consider how late a foal he was,” says Purdon.  “He has only had one really big year of racing and has come from maidens to running second to Lazarus in the Cup in about 14 months.

“So with another season like this under his belt I think he will be even stronger, both mentally and physically.”

That immaturity may have been why Jack’s Legend disappointed in the Franklin Cup last start, a race won in national record time by Vincent, the $1.35 favourite for Sunday’s $250,000 Cup.

 “He had two big races in a short space of time in Christchurch and when he came back his blood wasn’t quite right. So he went into the Franklin Cup needing the run and I think that is why he hit the wall at the 100m mark. But he has trained on well since and is back to his New Zealand Cup form. So with that in mind if he steps well on Sunday I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t in the money. But I am not sure he can beat Vincent at the moment because there might be something a little special about him.”

Jack’s Legend and Titan Banner are drawn either side of Vincent handy on the front line and their already obvious chances have been boasted by a little-known change to the Alexandra Park standing start conditions.

Many punters will have forgotten the front line limits for standing starts at the track reduced from nine to eight last year, meaning Franklin Cup runner-up A G’s White Socks has to start from the inside of the second line on Sunday.

He probably wasn’t a huge winning chance in the race but a legitimate place hope. Now he faces a more difficult task.

Meanwhile, Purdon will have remarkably only his second drive of the season behind The Foot Tapper, who he now trains, in the $100,000 National Trot on Sunday.

He has won 610 races in the sulky in New Zealand as well as Miracle Miles, Hunter and Victoria Cups in Australia but rarely drives these days, with Zachary Butcher doing most of the stable driving.

“It was good to get back out there again last Sunday driving on this horse but his draw this week makes it tough,” he offers.

Michael Guerin

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