YEAR: 1995



One month ago Il Vicolo did not have the Cup meeting on his programme but on Friday afternoon he was seen in action completing the DB Draught NZ Cup - Air New Zealand Free-For-All double. It was a dream result for first season trainer Mark Purdon and Canterbury owner John Seaton who now own a one million dollar pacer in Il Vicolo.

The hansome Vance Hanover entire joins a select group to achieve this including Blossom Lady, Master Musician, Chokin, Luxury Liner and Christopher Vance. Il Vicolo was recording his 22nd win and increased his earnings to $1,026,777. "Early in the season I wasn't really considering the Cup with him as a 4-year-old," said Purdon. "He has handled it well and done a marvellous job." Il Vicolo became the 25th horse to complete the NZ Cup-FFA double and just the third 4-year-old to do this joining Lookaway (1957) and Lordship (1962).

Purdon believes Il Vicolo could run a 1:53 mile given the right conditions but was not tempted to change his mind and accept an invitation to race Il Vicolo in the Monsanto Mile. "He has had two hard runs and the Monsanto looks like being a real hard race," said Purdon. The next race on Il Vicolo's programme is the $70,000 Pak N Save Franklin Cup (M5 and faster, 3200m) at Alexandra Park. Purdon will be looking for his second win in the feature after guiding home Mark Roy to win two years ago.

Long term targets for Il Vicolo include the $250,000 Auckland Cup on December 27 and A G Hunter and Victoria Cups at Moonee Valley in February. He is likely to bypass the Inter-Dominions in Perth next year.

Il Vicolo, who won a double during Cup week 12 months ago including a win in the rich Sires' Stakes Final, had the draw against him in the Free-For-All. But leaving from the outside of the second line over the sprint distance did not hinder Il Vicolo who reached the lead after the first 800 metres. "He got to the lead with few problems with Ricky (May, driver of Lento) handing it over to us," said Purdon. "He was holding them pretty easily at the finish and had something left." He paced his last 800m in 56.8 and the mobile 2000m in 2:25.1 - the second fastest time recorded in the Free-For-All but well outside Armalight's clocking.

Purdon trained the quinella with Brabham, who finished fourth in the NZ Cup, charging home late for second one and a quarter lengths away. "He has done a wonderful job considering how many starts (17) he's had," said Purdon. "He went a huge race," added driver Maurice McKendry. Brabham will also take in the Franklin Cup at his next attempt.

Lento held third just a head away after taking the trail behind Il Vicolo for the last lap with NZ Cup runner-up Just Royce another head back in fourth place. "It was a good run from Lento," said May. "I had to use her up early and she looked like getting second half way down."

Credit: Philip O'Connor writing in the NZHR Weekly

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