YEAR: 2013


The PGG Wrightson NZYSS 2yo Open is invariably a torrid and action packed affair and this year's Listed feature proved no exception at Addington on Saturday night.

There was early drama when Meticulous, an impressive 1:55.6 winner at Ashburton a week earlier, again choked down and wound up going down, lying on the track with a nasty gash to a knee until the race was finished. And there was later drama at the 600m when Explosive Art and Ubettabelieveit found the searing pace beyond them and wound up locking wheels, effectively wiping out more than half the field with the backwash.

That left a race of five after 13 had started, which soon became four when Cyclone Prince cried off on the home turn. It was a ding-dong go between the last four standing in the drive for the finish, but Isaiah had had the best run and collared the warm favourite Allblack Stride in the passing lane. Tony Herlihy had also given Sky Major a sweet trip and he finished strongly late to also peg back the Aussie raider, with Regulus unlucky and going a big one to finish fourth just half a length from the winner. But the result had largely been determined by the barrier draws.

Isaiah had been plagued by difficult draws before, but he had the ace on this occasion and Mark Purdon knew that Allblack Stride would be around in search of the lead sooner rather than later. That Christian Cullen colt had to camp three wide before working to the front after the first 800m, which ultimately cost him late in the piece and his unbeaten record. Allblack Stride paced his last mile in 1:55 and change after starting from the outside of the front line and would have lost no friends for his remaining engagements here. But Isaiah had also had to contend with the early and surprising charge from Explosive Art and posted a 1:55.5 mile rate for the trip, and his 2:20 had bettered Tintin In America's race and national record of 2:20.5.

This made the performance of Regulus all the more meritorious. After starting from post four on the second line and being in the rear to the 1100m , Regulus was in the three wide line down the back but received a check at the 600m which must have cost him five lengths. How the Mach Three gelding got so close was a feature of the race - his last 400m must have been in 26 and small change.

But the record books will show a seventh win in the event for trainer Mark Purdon, and the sixth since Jack Cade 12 years ago. It also wrapped up a sterling Premier Day result for the All Stars Stable, which won all three features. Minnie Moose would also win the penultimate race to make it six wins from the twelve tote races. Purdon actually won all six races he had starters in after taking a team of 16.

It was a first win for each of the owners of Isaiah however. Bought for $45,000 at Karaka on Purdon's recommendation, Isaiah is raced by regular stable clients Phil and Glenys Kennard, Met club director John Grainger and John Magness along with Neville and Marie Lancaster. The latter Christchurch couple had previously had limited success with Shultz and Highview Ebony although the latter was second in the Sales race for 2-year-old fillies behind Bettor Cover Lover three years ago.

But the Kennards have had an outstanding run in recent times as a result of buying colts from the yearling sales with Purdon. "We've been trying to win this race for a while now and had starters like Fiery Falcon (third in 2007), Highview Tommy (third in 2008) and Major Mark (fourth 2010)." said Glenys. "Mark had siad he just needed a decent draw to be a big chance and he got that finally," she added.

The Kennards deserved success was temperedby the fate of Meticulus however. "I actually missed the first half of the race because I was that worried about him." They were also disappointed that their top ranked 2-year-old trotting Not About Money was in a paddock with a quarter crack instead of contesting the Sires Stakes earlier in the day.

Despite having had little luck with barrier draws prior to this, Isaiah has now raced eight times for four wins and three seconds for stakes worth $189,000 with the Sires Stakes and Jewels still to come. The only time Isaiah has not be one-two was his prior start when fifth a month earlier, after working particularly hard in a quickly run Welcome Stakes. Six days prior to that Isaiah had posted 2:20.7 when winning a Sires Stakes heat by seven lengths.

After debuting before Christmas, Isaiah has also won the Sapling and been second in the Young Guns Final. This was a battle that Isaiah won but the outcome of the war remains undetermined. The Allblack Stride camp remained bullish about their chances this week with a better draw, and then there's Regulus. With the honours having been fairly evenly shared amongst the freshmen male pacers to date, Isaiah now has the edge but the end of the season title will be determined by the Sires Stakes and Jewels results.

Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 15May2013


YEAR: 2013


They say that Mark Purdon is New Zealandís best juvenile trainer, well I'll tell you what. His older brother Barry isnít half bad either. The Clevedon based trainer not only won tonight's (Friday May 11) $165,000 Sires' Stakes Final (Group One) with Maxim but he also got second with Sky Major bringing up a stable quinella.

Both Maxim and Sky Major are owned by Mrs K J Purdon, T G Casey, Clear view Racing no 4 syndicate, J Lohman, T H Henderson and The Anzac Racing Syndicate.

The Purdon trained pair dominated from up front, adopting lead-trail tactics. It was Tony Herlihy and the well supported Sky Major who swung for home first, but they were quickly collared by Zac Butcher and underdog Maxim, who powered up the Stunin Cullen sprint-lane to claim Group One glory.

Isaiah, who looked to be struggling on the bend, found a second win to storm into third for Mark Purdon, while Zacharia, who is also trained by the latter Purdon finished in fourth, giving the Purdon brothers the first four. Zacharia, just for good measure is also owned by Trevor Casey, who is a shareholder in both Maxim and Sky Major.

Maxim dashed his final sectionals in 55.9 and 26.4, eliminating the chances of anything trying to come from the back.

Sixth was the best Australian Allblack Stride could muster, while Regulus faded to fifth after racing outside the leader on the home bend.

Maxim, a son of Bettor's Delight and Splendid Deal (In The Pocket - Splendid Dreams), hails from the all-conquering Scuse Me family, which has produced stars such as Hands Christian (Christian Cullen- Splendid Dreams), Christen Me (Christian Cullen - Splendid Dreams) and of course tonight's New Zealand Oaks first and third placegetters Adore Me (Bettor's Delight - Scuse Me) and Splendour (Bettor's Delight- Splendid Deal). Who is the breeder of Maxim? Yes you guessed it, the man behind this Ďsplendid' family, Charlie Roberts.

Maxim's driver Zac Butcher was full of praise for Barry Purdon, thanking him for all of the wonderful opportunities he has presented him with.

Butcher was also full of praise for Maxim.

"We did receive a good trip tonight, but this horse really does try his heart out, and he possesses a big motor."

Butcher also admitted he was relatively confident heading into tonight, although he must have been one of the only ones who were as Maxim paid odds of $18.70 and $3.40.

It was Butcher's second Group One win after having taken out the NZ Oaks with Cheer The Lady at this exact meeting last year.

The win also brought up back-to-back Sires' Stakes wins for Barry Purdon having won the illustrious race last year with another son of Bettor's Delight in Five Card Draw.

It was Barry's seventh win in the race overall, having previously trained Billbob (1984), Chokin (1991), Montana Vance (1992) and Ill Vicolo (1994) to win in partnership with his father Roy, as well as Matai Mackenzie (2000) and Five Card Draw (2012)on his own account.

Credit: Mitchell Robertson writing on 18May2013

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