Just three days before the win, Purdon, who couldn't drive in the race because he was suspended, had taken Steve McQueen to Addington for a private workout. the son of Artiscape whizzed his last 800m in just over 56 seconds during that workout, suggesting to Purdon he was back to the form that saw him dominate the juvenile events at the Auckland Cup carnival. But Orange was none the wiser as he rolled onto the track on Saturday afternoon. "Mark didn't tell me until after the race," said Orange. "I guess he didn't want me to get too carried away and out-drive him, so it worked out well. I suppose that's why he's the boss."
As it was, Orange sooled Steve McQueen off the gate and then trailed Roburascal, who rolled along at a solid clip that took mid-race challengers out of the equation. At the top of the straight there were only two winning chances, and Steve McQueen used the passing lane for a copybook victory over the leader, with Fiery Falcon just holding out Absolute Magic for third.
Both Orange and Purdon had been perplexed by Steve McQueen's mixed form since he returned from Auckland but never doubted his ability. Yet, ironically, the gelding is only Orange's third choice juvenile drive in the stable. He also drives top-ranked youngster Ohoka Arizona, who was ineligible for last Saturday's race, while he wanted to partner Fiery Falcon last week. "To be honest that was my first choice but the owners decided to go with Colin (De Filippi), so this really is a lucky win. Not that I thought there was much between them, but Steve McQueen hasn't been one of my drives before. I knew how good he was though, and it was just a matter of him showing his best and getting a little luck."
Credit: Michael Guerin writing in HRWeekly 16May07