YEAR: 2007


Auckland Reactor has always had quite a reputation, but even Mark Purdon was a little shell-shocked by his superlative performance to win Tuesday's $200,000 NRM Sires' Stakes Final at Addington.

Not really tested against the cream of his crop before, and saddled with the outside of the front line in a 1950m affair that was always going to be a torrid and seemingly even encounter, Auckland Reactor went back to last early in a strung out field passing the mile before circling them with cover from the 1400m to range up outside his more favoured stablemate Ohoka Arizona down the track. But just when he could have been expected to battle in the circumstances, Auckland Reactor went into overdrive and exploded away to put the result beyond doubt a furlong from home.

The Mach Three colt was clear by almost two lengths in the end from another son of Mach Three in Fiery Falcon, a last quarter off the front in 27.5 for an overall rate of 1.57 leaving no excuses or chances.

"I could see Blair (Orange on Ohoka Arizona) was gone on the turn, and I was really only worried about Benny Mac on my back," said Purdon. "But he had done a bit of work to get round them as well," he added. It was left to Fiery Falcon to lodge a late challenge, but he never looked like troubling the winner. Colin De Filippi had performed a minor miracle at the start to get Fiery Falcon over from barrier eight and into the one-one in the early piece, but had lost such a prominent position in the running. It was still a performance which confirmed that last season's Sires' Stakes 2YO Final winner is again going to be a major factor this term however, and a pleasing result considering he only made this Final by literally the skin of his teeth in the last heat.

But it was the performance from the unbeaten Auckland Reactor which suggested he is a class above his contemporaries and a superstar in the making which had most buzzing. Purdon knew he was good, but not that good. "He has always shown the promise, but it's a long way from winning a maiden race at Washdyke (less than two months ago) to winning the Sires' Stakes. "That is a big ask, and it was a big effort. He doesn't look much, and we've been patient while trying to build him up. It's only in the last few weeks that he has started to do well and put some condition on. But he has come on lately and improved from week to week."

Purdon said Auckland Reactor, bred and raced by Auckland's Tony Parker, and the 11th foal from the Soky's Atom mare Atomic Lass, would now go for another break and "come back for the Derbys. We'll look at the Southern Supremacy Series as well next year, as that's quite a nice race now too."

Purdon's decision to drive Auckland Reactor could in no way be interpreted as a sign of confidence over any of the other five 3-year-olds from his stable that made the Final. "Blair has driven Ohoka Arizona right from the start, and I didn't want to take Colin off the other horse as he has got on so well with him. It's just the way things have worked out." Auckland Reactor only just downed Steve McQueen by a head in the Sires' Stakes Heat at Forbury Park, but he wasn't all that happy in the wet conditions. The colt felt a lot better bolting in over older but lesser company at Kaikoura and had "trained on" since then.

Ohoka Arizona, last season's top-ranked juvenile and impressive when resuming in the first heat at Addington five weeks ago, was beaten on his merits and is obviously not right. "He had every chance and wasn't good enough today," said Orange. "It's a wee bit dissappointing really," he added.

Ohoka Utah was even more dissappointing considering he trailed and dropped away to beat only Reklaw's Boy home.

Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 15Nov07

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