YEAR: 2006

The ATC 2006 Synd after the win
The ATC Trot 2006 Syndicate came from near and far to fill the Addington birdcage with merriment last Saturday. Parked up the front, 76-year-old Margaret Reeve was as merry as most. Family members got her wheelchair in amongst them as they celebrated the win by Changeover in the PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales Series 2yo Open from Christian Warrior and Mombassa.

Margaret came up from Ashburton for the big event, though the race was not particularly clear to her. She has impaired vision and cannot walk. She can't read and can't see television. "I lost it all about five months's awful," she said. "But I love being part of the syndicate and having the horse to race. It is my only interest, and Rob Carr has been so good. He phones me and tells me what is going on," she said. As it happened, Margaret bought the last share in the syndicate. "Rob told me there were two men interested but they hadn't paid the money. So next morning, I was down at the bank first thing and had the money away that day," she said.

Margaret will be back at Addington this week, but she is not so confident that Changeover will match it with Gotta Go Cullen. Trainer Geoff Small thinks the same as Margaret. "We have got a nice horse who has improved slowly all year, but Gotta Go Cullen is very, very good."

Changeover was bred by Carr and Don Kirkbride, who bought her dam Chaangerr off Bunty Hughes and Alan Meadows after they had bred seven foals. "She didn't come cheap," said Carr, who manages all the ATC Syndicates. "She was in foal to Artsplace, and they kept the foal she had. We sold Changeover for $28,000, and I had gently suggested to the trainers selecting for the syndicate that they avoid buying one that I had bred," he said.

If Small heard him, he didn't listen. "I had always wanted one from that family," he said. "He was early in the Sale, I had a budget and he made it. For Rob, it is a double coup," he said, adding that he was indebted to the usual high standard of help he had received staying with his old school buddy, Jeff Whittaker. By In The Pocket, Changover is expected to develop form that will make him a Classic chance at three.

Carr and Kirkbride have kept a Bettor's Delight filly from Chaangerr which is with Tony Herlihy, they have a weanling filly by Presidential Ball and the mare is in foal to Bettor's Delight,

Christian Warrior came off a nice trail on the outer to earn $33,150 for second, while Mombassa held his ground for third. They outclassed the others.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 17May06


YEAR: 2008


Although Sir Clive's winning streak came to an end on Friday, the consolation for the Mark Purdon/ Grant Payne stable was that it was inflicted by another of their representatives.

Bettor's Delight colt Highview Tommy and Blair Orange snatched a late victory off his stablemate in the $100,000 Group 1 Bromac Lodge NZ Welcome Stakes at Addington. Both were huge runs, and Purdon says there's little between the two youngsters. "On ability, they're very comparable," he said. "Every run of Highview Tommy's has been a great one when you analyse it...on debut in Auckland he was three-deep and rattled home for third, beaten a head and a neck, and then second-up he was three-wide from the 700m and went down by a neck in NZ record time."

Earlier in the season Purdon

Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 16Apr08


YEAR: 2009

Part-owners Hazel Van Opzeeland & Glenys Kennard celebrate with Blair Orange

Highview Tommy picked a hard race to kick off his 4-year-old season in - the $40,000 Group 2 Avon City Ford Superstars Championship - and he won it the hard way too, sitting parked for the last lap and winning in the hands of Blair Orange. The Bettor's Delight entire found plenty when it counted though, and went within half a second of his own stablemate Fiery Falcon's national record when he scored in 3.13.9.

"Blair reckons he seems to be trying a lot harder this time in, and is more enthusiastic," part-trainer Mark Purdon said. "He now does a lot of his work with 'Mack' (Auckland Reactor) though, and he really has to work to stay with him. It's lifted him."

Highview Tommy's 3-year-old season (19 starts for 4 wins and 9 placings) was slightly less consistent than his 2-year-old term (9 starts for 4 wins and 5 placings), and his trainers were more than happy with how he performed. "Their 3-year-old season is always a little bit different because new horses come on the scene - horses like Stunin Cullen and Sleepy Tripp, which he never raced against at two. He had a couple of bloody tough races early on last season too, which might've taken their toll later."

Highview Tommy wasn't considered for the Cup at this stage of his career, but Purdon says it is only a matter of time before he is. "No, he can climb the ladder and earn his spot," he said. "He's got a wee way to go yet. The Junior Free-For-All on Cup Day is a nice race to aim him at, and then possibly the NZ Free-For-All on Show Day. I'm not saying that that is what he's going to do, because he is only a five-win horse at this stage. He'll get to Cup class eventually though, for sure."

Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 7 Oct 2009


YEAR: 2010


Moments after winning the $180,000 Group 1 NRM Sires' Stakes Final at Addington on Tuesday, Stephen Reid still couldn't believe it. "I've got the good horse," said the trainer of Gold Ace, adding "finally" to the end of his sentence. "At times in the past I've had people say to me that I've got a real good one, and it hasn't turned out that way. But now I have - and I think I'm due. This is the best moment for me, ever!"

Reidman had every right to be wallowing in disbelief following the event, because the way the race panned out Gold Ace had no right to win it. Drawn the outside of the front line, driver Peter Ferguson had little option but to ease back as firstly Delight Brigade and then Hands Christian led. The latter was literally 'getting away with murder' in front, so at the winning post with a lap to travel Ferguson thought enough was enough and brought the three-wide train forward.

Gold Ace was stuck out there without cover from that point onwards, and on a day when 10 of the 12 winners either led or trailed, his task into a stiff breeze looked forlorn. But there was still plenty of fight in the Bettor's Delight colt's belly as the field swung for home, and he powered down centre track to nab Hands Christian right on the line.

"I thought we were no hope," Reid said. "Having to drop back from that draw, we needed them to go hard up front so we could finish over the top of them. But I was listening to the quarters as they unfolded, and when the first was thirty-one followed by a thirty down the back, I didn't give him a chance."

What made Gold Ace's victory all the more sweeter for Reid is the fact that he and his wife Wendy own 37.5 percent of him. "We put our nuts on the line to buy him," Reid said, casting his mind back to June and July when he and former training partner Graeme Rogerson were about to go their seperate ways. "I didn't want to be paying training fees for the horse to be somewhere else, that didn't make any sense. Rogey and I bought him at the Sales and put a few other people into the ownership with us, but he didn't want to buy us out and initially we didn't want to take his share either. It was all really amicable, but it went backwards and forwards for months."

Deep down inside, something was tellig Reid not to let this one go. "I had a gut feeling he was a good one," Reid said, pointing out that at the time Gold Ace had made seven appearances for just one win. "I picked him out on type as a yearling. He was out of a lightly-raced In The Pocket mare, and I liked the Bettor's Delights too. And he was just a notch below them at two; even when he won the Sales Series Consolation down here in May he was still immature. We've sold a lot of horses over the years, but I said to Wendy...maybe we take a punt with this one and hang onto it. Because if we turn him out, and he lifts, we might just have one that's up to the real good ones. I think it's safe to say that he's lifted."

Joining the couple in the ownership of Gold Ace are Auckland construction company owner Michael Ng, who's raced harness horses since 1997 and "this is the best one, by far"; the colt's breeder Derek Moore who's been in him all the way through; and the Moore-managed D D Syndicate, a group of 10 North Island enthusiasts that Reid says he's indebted to Gold Ace's breeder for organising when the need arose.

From here the programme for Gold Ace in undecided, apart from the main target being the 3-year-old Sales Series Pace at the end of next month. "There's so many big races for them at three, you've got to be a bit careful," Reid said. "If I manage him right, I think that as a 5-year-old he could not only be a Cup horse - but win a really big race. And it gets a bit fuzzy in the tummy when you realise you could own thirty-seven and a half percent of a star."

One thing's for sure, nothing could pry Gold Ace's driver from the sulky from here on in. "I asked Reidman at the start of the season whether he had any 3-year-olds, and told him to put me on the best one," Ferguson said with a smile. "I thought his first-up run for third was average; then he went better when he won at Cambridge, but when he won again at Auckland on October 22 he fair-dinkum caned them and never left second gear. That gave me a lot of confidence for today - and Reidman does too, because he's so enthusiastic about this horse. I've got a lot of respect for him. He's always been a good trainer, always. All he's needed is some horses to show it."

Ferguson said it was great to get back into the 'Group 1 zone', believing it was May last year with Flying Pocketlands when he last won one, and before that you had to go back to the days of Mi Muchacho. He'd pretty confident that Cup Day's Group 1 won't be Gold Ace's last, either. "This horse just doesn't know anything yet - wait until he does!"

Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 11Nov2010


YEAR: 2010


In The Pocket, the stallion bred by Brittany Farms in the USA who came to New Zealand in 1993 and revolutionised our harness racing breed has died. The outstanding son of Direct Scooter and Black Jade who won $1,537,473 on the race track in the US pacing 1.53.8 as a two-year-old, was put down at Wai Eyre Farm in North Canterbury and is buried there.

In The Pocket (23) leaves behind an outstanding number of top horses to carry on his legacy in New Zealand including siring sensations Christian Cullen, who set four New Zealand records and won 22 races including the the New Zealand Cup, and the pocket rocket, Courage Under Fire, who won 34 races including 6 Derbys.

But it doesn't stop there. In The Pocket is also the sire of many, many more standouts including Changeover, Winforu, Tribute, Bella's Boy, Light And Sound, London Legend, and London Pride, aswell as the speed queens Tupelo Rose and Under Cover Lover.

He is the sire of more than 600 winners in New Zealand and Australia with combined total earnings of more than $26,500,000. While in North America he has also been and an outstanding siring success with such standouts as Sanabelle Island (1.50.8 $1,660,526 57 US wins) and Crew Cut Zach (p4 1.51.4f $1,006,055, 53 US wins) sired by him.

Voted stallion of the Year in 1998/99 and 2003/2004 In The Pocket, stood at Woodlands Stud, near Clevedon in Auckland, for many years before being purchased by Ian Dobson in September 2005 to stand alongside his most famous son Christian Cullen at Wai Eyre.

The In The Pocket Syndicate was formed with Darryl Brown, of Wai Eyre Farm, and another prominent Canterbury owner, Noel Kennard, joining Dobson in the ownership of In The Pocket .

Brown said he had a small share in the stallion. It was a sad day for the stud to have to put In The Pocket down. The stallion was 23 and had left a very strong legacy of horses.

Noel Kennard said it was "incredible to be involved with such a fantastic individual."

"He has revolutionised our breed. If it wasn't for him we wouldn't have Christian Cullen, or Courage Under Fire, or any of Cullen's many outstanding sons. In The Pocket was a stunning individual," Kennard said.


Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 8Sep2010

In The Pocket may have passed away early last month, but his legacy is going to be inestimable.

The best sire New Zealand has seen in modern times since Smooth Fella and Vance Hanover, and only to be surpassed by the success of a son, In The Pocket will live long as a sire of commercially successful sires in Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire and now quite possibly Changeover. But his influence and contribution to the New Zealand breeding industry is going to extend well beyond that.

The first shuttle sire to step foot in this part of the world when he arrived in 1993, In The Pocket brought refinement, gait and speed to a broodmare population which in many ways was still old fashioned and often course insofar as types. New Zealand's broodmare population was brought up to speed so to speak by a class horse, but even more important was the outcross factor that In The Pocket brought to the table.

At the time when the pacing population around the world was becoming saturated with Hal Dale and Meadow Skipper blood, as a son of Direct Scooter and a Tar Heel mare, In The Pocket proved the perfect foil - he could be said to be the right horse in the right place at the right time for New Zealand. Now New Zealand has a significant proportion of broodmares by In The Pocket, Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire among others - a much higher percentage than anywhere else in the world anyway - and is brilliantly set up to take advantage of the next round or stage of leading sires or high-profile pacng prospects straight off the track.

The value of outcross blood in a broodmare population cannot be underestimated, so thanks to In The Pocket, New Zealand breeders both individually and collectively have a lot to thank him for. The best present example of this can be observed in Bettor's Delight, a sire with no less than 16 crosses to Hal Dale who was crying out for outcross blood in his mares, and sure enough he has crossed brilliantly with In The Pocket and Christian Cullen mares. It is the speed factor of the Direct Scooter and In The Pocket sire line which is proving so effective and complimentary to the toughness that a sire such as Bettor's Delight from the Cam Fella line can offer.

There was nothing fashionable about In The Pocket's pedigree when he hit the ground in February of 1987, but he was a top class juvenile who won over $1.5m by the end of his 3-year-old season, being second only in performance that year to Horse of the Year Beach Towel. Lou Guida was involved in his ownership then, before George Shaw bought him for stud duties in America. In The Pocket initially stood for two years at Walnut Hall in New York before moving to Winbak Farm in Maryland, a State which allowed him to shuttle, while later he also stood in Ohio.

Before settling into a more permanent home at Woodlands Stud and then at Wai-Eyre in his twilight years, In The Pocket also stood at Vance Lodge in Auckland, at Lantana Lodge and the Stallion Station at West Melton, while also doing a stint at Alabar in Victoria. We can therefore count nine individual farms he frequented during his stud career which spanned two decades, with eight of those years spent doing time in both hemispheres. In The Pocket didn't always get a lot of favours in his life, but it would be fair to say that he has been good - and he was always a lovely horse to be around - to all those who came into contact with him in some form or another.

While he didn't make it as a sire in America without the support of a big stud or syndication after being placed outside of the major breeding States, In The Pocket was an immediate success in New Zealand. Christian Cullen and Under Cover Lover came from his first crop, and they were quickly followed up by Courage Under Fire, Classy Filly and Tupelo Rose among others. Star youngsters such as Light And Sound, Bella's Boy, Lennon, Advance Attack and Tribute would follow before Changeover would prove a crowning glory. The success of Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire as racehorses and as sires is entirely another story.

In The Pocket's record presently shows about 660 New Zealand-bred winners from 1300-odd foals for a winner-to-foals percentage above 50, when 40 percent is an accepted success rate, while he has another 27 Australian-bred winners from the handful of foals he produced each year there. And his North American stats show 537 winners of over $50m, with 169 six-figure winners headed by the super mare Sanabelle Island ($1.6m). In New Zealand, he was a two-time winner of the Sires' Premiership and among the leading sires every year for the 12 consecutive seasons between his first crop racing as 2-year-olds and last season, when declining foal numbers saw him dip out of the Top 10 for the first time. As a broodmare sire he already has well over 200 New-Zealand-bred winners, headed by Bettor's Strike and Tintin In America

It was five years ago now that Ian Dobson along with Noel Kennard and Wai-Eyre studmaster Daryl Brown purchased In The Pocket for what was then a record price, and he settled into a peaceful semi-retirement in North Canterbury alongside his super sire son. There was always a question mark over In The Pocket's fertility, which was probably not all that surprising in his latter years after what he had been through as a shuttle horse, but his last crop will be five yearlings from a book of 29 mares. He has three fillies entered for next year's Sales, but no further foals after four mares came up empty last season.

Brown says the decision to put In The Pocket down a month ago was not a difficult one when he suffered "quite a bad bout of colic. We could have operated to save him, but he was already retired and had had a good innings."

Thus when most sires are looking forward to a new season at stud, In The Pocket has gone to the great breeding barn in the sky, safe in the knowledge that he will be remembered for a very, very long time.

Credit: Shelley Caldwell writing in Harnesslink


YEAR: 2011


Woodlands Stud had another huge night to remember at Addington last week. Stud stars Bettor's Delight claims New Zealand Oaks winner Carabella and Pegasus Spur is the sire of Seelite Windows & Doors New Zealand Trotting Derby winner, Paramount Geegee.

Paramount Geegee dominated in the same manner as Carabella did. He will be a hot favourite to win the 3YO Ruby at Ashburton on Saturday week, seeking redemption after running fifth in the Cambridge 2YO edition a year ago.

Trainer John Dickie said he probably paid too much for him as a yearling, although it's never been an issue. He had seen the horse in a Studholme Park brochure, and asked Robbie Holmes to look at the horse and bid on him. His dam Paramount Star won seven and Dickie trained her, and he always maintained she could have won more.

"When I first saw him, he was as good as the picture - a big horse. I had no owners at the time, and the bidding seemed to hang between fouteen and fifteen thousand, then Rogie (Graeme Rogerson) threw in a bid for $25,000. And away it went, and I'm paying $61,000."

From 17 starts, Paramount Geegee has won 13 races and has raced his earnings past $400,000, with grand prospects of taking it well over $500,000 before the seasons over. He has suffered from sore feet, but the addition of pads has fixed that. "It's been a blessing in disguise having him down here, working on the beach," said Dickie.

Paramount Star has fillies to come by Love You and Majestic Son.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 25May2011


YEAR: 2011


Steven Reid has never thought of himself as superstitious. But when it comes to his horse Gold Ace, all the signs suggest he's wrong.

Take an occasion back in early February for example. reid was across the Tasman compaigning Gold Ace in the Victorian Derby Series at Melton's Tabcorp Park. On the day of the Final, he and his wife Wendy entered one of the malls in Melbourne looking for a spot to stop for lunch when all of a sudden they came across a big, bold billboard advertising the 'Sushi Sushi' chain of food outlets. Reid says it stood out like a beacon, and right then and there he got the premonition that a horse with the same name would triumph that night. His hunch came true.

Fast forward to last Saturday, and Reid awoke from an early afternoon snooze on the couch of his Addington motel to hear the last few seconds of a galloping event at Riverton beaming from the television. "...and Hill Of Gold is going to run away and score..." went the dulcet tones of commentator Dave McDonald. 'Hey', he thought at the time, 'that's the same name as the mother of our bloke - that has to be an omen for tonight'. Not wanting to tempt fate before the race, Reid only told a select few about what he hoped would be an uncanny coincidence.

As the field for the $200,000 Southern Demolition & Salvage NZ Derby took their positions behind the mobile, Reid glanced across the track at the semaphore board to see Gold Ace had closed at $5.80 on the tote. Knowing that the Bettor's Delight colt was over a respiratory infection that caused him to run a below-par sixth in Sushi Sushi's Victorian Derby Final - the same health scare that saw him also struggle into sixth a month later in the Northern Derby Prelude once back home, forcing his withdrawal from the Alexandra Park Final - the Pukekohe trainer regretted not opening his wallet, if only for a split second.

"I was very confident," he said. "But I only said it privately to a couple of people. I've never backed him yet, not once - not even when he won at Cambridge and paid thirteens. So I didn't want to start changing things now." Superstition or not, Reid got the result he longed for when Gold Ace won his home stretch battle with the favourite Terror To Love and edged clear near the line. The latter had gotten to the lead early from a similar second-row draw, while Gold Ace and driver Peter Ferguson dodged trouble at the start and joined the three-wide train starting the last lap, ranging up outside him before the 800m pole.

"The first part of the race definitely panned out well for us," Reid said, referring to the early gallop of Empyrean which checked Major Mark and saw the Purdon/Payne runner stuck wide without cover for the last half. Had that not happened, it definitely would've been a three-way slog up the home straight."

Prior to this season, Reid had never trained the winner of a 3YO Sires' Stakes Final or NZ Deby; now Gold Ace has given him both. "I've run second in the race twice," he said, remembering Monkey King's nose defeat to Pay Me Christian in 2006 and Bailey's Dream going under by a length to Badlands Bute a year earlier. What makes it more special is having my wife and our kids Matthew (18) and Isabella (13) here tonight, because they haven't all been down since I ran second with Monkey in the NZ Cup. But just having this horse right again is a big buzz as well. When we arrived tonight h was pushing Simon (McMullan) all over the place and half-pie trying to take off, yet when we put him in his stall he went to sleep."

Following the $40,000 Group 2 Flying Stakes and the Harness Jewels Emerald in early June, Reid says he'll more than likely take Gold Ace across the Tasman for the Breeders' Crown and then give him a "massive break" - leaving his 4-year-old resumption as late as 2012. "This horse's improvement between two and three has been immense. At two he was a notch below the good ones but at three he's lifted to what is possibly the best. Don't get me wrong, I think Terror To Love is a great horse - and because the two remaining races they'll meet in are sprints, it's going to come down to the draws. If Terror To Love draws well and we don't, we probably can't beat him. And Vice Versa if it's the other way round. What would make it interesting is if we both draw bad."

Another hunch? Only time will tell...

Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 28Apr2011


YEAR: 2011


There was a bonus of dramatic proportions for those lucky enough to be at Addington on the loveliest of Autumn days last Saturday.

They saw the wickedly talented Carabella wave goodbye to 12 others in the Nevele R Fillies Final, they again watched Flying Isa dominate the trotting 2-year-olds and record his fourth successive win, but none came with the back-of-the-bunch brilliance that catapulted Western Cullen to a dashing win in the PGG Wrightson Sales Series Open Division Final. But in reality that was no more than a stunning sideshow.

The main act came from two 3-year-olds in the Group 2 Vero Flying Stakes, usually the warm-up to the New Zealand Derby. It was a surprise to get a finish this good, but Gold Ace and Terror To Love made the race an unforgettable exhibition of spirited comptition.

They started the home run with Gold Ace moving powerfully past the others, the hunting Terror To Love clearing his back to challenge on the right. They ran past the empty public grandstand where 20 years ago young and old would have paid for the privilege of seeing a fascinating tussle between the pair. The bay horse, closer to black than brown, soon narrowed the gap and levelled.

Gold Ace was ready for him, rallied, and fought him long and hard. That was just when it seemed Terror To Love had managed to get the better of him. By now the heat of the battle had less than a second to run. Gold Ace had it...then he might've. And soon doubt. Terror To Love had pushed right on the line. Close? This was a measure in millimetres.

No-one knew it moreso than Mark McNamara, who in the commentary box gamely went for a dead-heat. These are cheeky calls, but heroic when they come off. This one did. Unseperable. Two truly great horses sharing the triumph. Peter Ferguson, the driver of Gold Ace, used a comfortable cliché when he said it was "great for racing". And that was the truth of it.

Jim Curtin eased Terror To Love in the early rush to find the back of Gold Ace. Ferguson was out well and tracked along with the trail on the outer. Curtin was poised to pounce. Gold Ace had the advantage of being in front, Terror To Love the challenge of getting past. "The race was always set up by what they did in the Derby," said Ferguson. He agreed that Terror To Love headed Gold Ace. "I always knew he was there, right behind us. And when he went past, I thought we would run a nice second. Then, inside the last fifty metres, I felt him lift. It was going to be close. And even when it's very close you usually have half an idea who has won, but this time I had none, and neither did Jimmy." Curtin thought the same. "I hope I'd got past him, and I thought I was going to beat him, but horses like that are just so hard to get past."

The pair will meet again in the Harness Jewels at Ashburton where both want front line draws and will run smart time if they do.

Gold Ace, another siring triumph for Bettor's Delight, had missed at least five days work with a leg injury after his NZ Derby win. Trainer Steven Reid was concerned that any longer would have made him worried, but the recovery happened in good time.

The result was one of those occasions that made an Autumn day at Addington one to treasure. Thanks to Terror To Love and Gold Ace, there's no doubt about that.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 18 May 2011


YEAR: 2012


A good night became a great one for the Barry Purdon stable when Five Card Draw completed a Group One race double in the $180,000 Garrard's Sires' Stakes 2yo Final at Addington last Friday night.

With Bettor Sweet starting the ball rolling by earlier upsetting Mark Purdon with Didjamakem Bolt, who was racing out of his class in 2-3 win company due to the one-win mobile having to be dropped, Five Card Draw also completed a Bettor's Delight treble with Oaks winner Cheer The Lady for Barry with five starters in three races for the evening.

Purdon won the inaugural Sires Stakes in 1984 with Billbob and others in Auckland with Chokin and Montana Vance, along with Matai Mackenzie at Addington at Addington 12 years ago, but Addington has become the stomping ground of younger brother Mark since he moved to Canterbury in the mid 90s. His dominance of age group features at Addington has been such that the All Stars Stable has won the Sires Stakes no less than six times with Il Vicolo, The Court Owl, Light And Sound, Likmesiah, Fiery Falcon and Major Mark. But Purdon's juvenile firepower has been well down this season, partly because he has been buying yearlings in Australia, and only Sir Tosti Mach was eligible and qualified for this final.

The latter was a sound fourth and one of seven starters by Mach Three which filled the second to sixth placings, which would have been some sort of record had Five Card Draw not held such a big hand for Brent Mangos. Cran Dalgety also held a good hand for the race with three starters even without last week's Sales race winner Bit Of A Legend, and for about the first 1700m, it seemed as though Dexter Dunn was going to provide for an action replay. Just as he had done with Bit Of A Legend, Dunn used the electric speed of Abraxas to cross Five Card Draw at the start and then happily hand up and wait for the passing lane. Barry Purdon and Dalgety were both getting feelings of déjá vu when Abraxas poked up inside Five Card Draw at the furlong, but Mangos was just kidding and the least concerned of all.

With favourite Alta Christiano out of play early, Five Card Draw had got some easy sectionals before heading down the back and into the stiff southerly, and he had plenty in reserve on the occasion, coming away again near the finish. This was Five Card Draw's fourth win from six starts and having also won the Young Guns, th gelding has already earned $224,000, with another $75,000 awaiting them at the Jewels. Five Card Draw is Breeders Crown eligible, but Purdon will then turn him out and be back for the Sires' Stakes in the spring, "otherwise they don't get a break".

Bought from breeders Wayne and Jay Abernethy for $57,500 from Karaka last year, Five Card Draw was one of just two purchases that Purdon secured and he races the son of Blistering Belle with Auckland's Tyronne Cooke, Charmain Nausbaum and Alan Dormer. Purdon also bought a Grinfromeartoear-Erineyes colt in Los Amante shortly after in Auckland and while he qualified in February an "is going to win a race or two", Purdon is thankful he didn't acquire more at the time. "We couldn't find owners and wound up with shers in both of them as it was," said Purdon. Five Card Draw has "always looked like a nice horse from day one" though and Purdon expects him to improve further as he grows and strengthens into a 3-year-old.

The Paul Kerr camp was bitterly disappointed after Alta Christiano galloped early after being restrained by son Mitchell. "He's over reached and struck himself and what happened was just greenness," said Paul "He's never galloped before and panicked. They do pick the worst times to do these things," he added. If this seemed bad enough, things got worse for junior driver Mitchell. He was going to win the following event with Chianti, but the well-bred filly broke down so badly inside the 200m that she had to be put down.

Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 23May2012


YEAR: 2012


Zac Butcher drove his first Group One winner and trainer Barry Purdon had his best night at southern headquarters in a long time when Cheer The Lady triumphed in a thrilling $100,000 Canterbury Breeders New Zealand Oaks at Addington last Friday night.

After going out on his own account, Purdon won the 2YO Sales race back in 1996 when Gran Montana upset Bogan Fella and brother Mark, but his biggest night out at Addington before this was a couple of years later when Holmes D G won the Derby and Anvil Vance the Easter Cup. Purdon has won the Oaks before with Pacific Flight and Julie Vance back in the early 90s, but that was when training with father Roy and Mark drove.

For young Butcher, 21 last month, this was easily a highlight in a career which has been rapidly heading skyward for four seasons now. Wins by Bettor Sweet and Cheer The Lady took his tally this term to 96, just two behind his father David in the race behind Dexter Dunn (145) by the close of the meeting. In his previous three seasons as a junior, Butcher has won 18, 45 and 59 races. The latter figure took him into third among the juniors, but he has Matt Williamson well covered this season and the century is only a matter of weeks away.

Butcher, who won last years Gr2 Delightful Lady Classic in Auckland with Precious Rose, made a critical decision at the 1300m which ultimately paved the road to gold. He was following Twist And Twirl at this point, but when she made her move from four back in the running line to eventually wrestle the lead off Here We Go Again, Butcher opted to stay in when most would have latched on. Another critical point came passing the 700m when Living The Dream, who had followed Twist And Twirl, began to give ground and carted Pemberton Shard and Elusive Chick back with her.

Butcher was improving three wide on the back of Precious Rose while all this was happening, and a short time later Cheer The Lady was able to drop into the one-one. In effect Cheer The Lady had spent little in manoeuvring into such a challenging position, and she had Twist And Twirl covered early in the run home. O Baby, favoured by a good draw on this occasion but inconvenienced by the stubborn longshot Strata Star for a good half mile, had a brief time in the lead before winding up four back. She had some luck when Elusive Chick moved one off and got lost, the three back position enabling her to out finish Here We Go Again for a close third.

This was a frenetically run affair on a bitterly cold and windy night and Cheer The Lady's 3:11.6 was the second fastest ever recorded behind De Lovely's 3:10.9 two years ago, which was the third of David Butcher's three Oaks within seven years. "Things panned out really well in the end, but you need a bit of luck in these races," said Butcher. "She's a tough sort which follows speed really well. Twist And Twirl fought back in the run home, but when I gave my filly another one she went again," he added.

By Bettor's Delight and the fourth of four consecutive filly foals from the Albert Albert mare Galleons Cheer, a granddaughter of No Regrets, Cheer The Lady was bred by Gary Allen and prepared by Aimee Edmonds for the second day of the 2010 Premier Sale, where Purdon sorted her out for $57,500. She was one of seven sales purchases that year by Purdon for a syndicate comprising the 18-member Auckland syndicate Clear View Racing No.2 headed by Len Oughton, along with Terry Henderson, Kevin Riseley, Ted Edwards, Hawkes Bay's Thomas Corson and John Lohman, the latter on hand from Perth. Six of those yearlings have raced and five have won, with the others including Precious Rose($126,650) and Smo($47,528), with only a Real Desire colt not making the grade.

"Cheer The Lady never really impressed us at all last year until a few weeks before the NZ Cup meeting when she resumed at Cambridge," said Purdon. "I wasn't confident then and when she got parked, I thought we're in trouble here, but she just got beat a nose. Then she won in Auckland a week later and she hasn't looked back since. She's a great doing filly - the only thing that bothers her in not enough feed - and she's kept improving with racing and as she's got stronger," he added.

Purdon decided not to make the $15,000 late payment for the Fillies Series, as "you had to win a heat to justify that and then you could draw bad in the final." This meant he could freshen her with a six week break from racing after winning at Alexandra Park in mid March, where she erased Carabella's NZ record in posting 2:40.7 (MR 1:57.5) for 2200m mobile, and set her for the Oaks and Jewels. Apart from driving Precious Rose into second in the Sires' Stakes behind Twist And Twirl at Christmas, Butcher has driven the long striding and deceptively fast Cheer The Lady in all her 11 races this season, where she has now recorded six wins, two seconds and two thirds for $109,717.

Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 23May2012

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