YEAR: 2003

Jack Cade (Mark Purdon) winning the NZFFA

The Free-For-All always loomed as a two-horse war and a battle of tactics, and it delivered, apart from the small matter of Jagged Account splitting Jack Cade and Elsu after making his own luck at the start to trail.

Jack Cade has always been seen in his best light when allowed to bowl along, as opposed to the sprint home which developed in the Cup, and Purdon made sure he was going to be able to dictate terms by wresting the lead through the swift first quarter as Elsu worked around three-wide with the live cover of Sly Flyin to face a stiff breeze from the 1400m.

After a brief respite in the pace, David Butcher and Elsu turned up the heat, but Jack Cade came home in two quarters of 28.1 to complete the 2000m in a 1:56.6 mile rate to win comfortably in the end. This was well outside the record 1:54.9 speed that it took Yulestar to catch Young Rufus last year, but it was ample consolation after only getting wound up when it was all over in the Cup.

Elsu was two lengths away shading an equally game Sly Flyin; All Hart again performed with credit for fifth and Gracious Knight showed something like his best form by beating the rest in. These included a luckless Young Rufus, who was squeezed and galloped after 400m, and Annie's Boy, who was retired after finishing last.

Credit: Frank Marrion writing in NZHR Weekly


YEAR: 2002

Jack Cade & Mark Purdon

Mark Purdon says Jack Cade could not have won the Smokefree New Zealand Derby had it not been for the regular amount of swimming he's done in the last six weeks. Not only that, he doubts whether he would have even started in Addington's Group 1 feature.

For months, Jack Cade has been in the pool, firstly at the Riccarton galloping track, then at Cran Dalgety's. While Jack Cade was on the road here and there, Purdon was installing his own $60,000 pool and, six weeks ago, Jack Cade was in it.

Since then, the young star has done more of his training off the track than on it. Had these facilities not been available to the same extent, the cracks in Jack Cade's physical armour would have appeared earlier and with dire consequences. To explain this, we are back in the Spring and stable foreman Grant Payne is back off the track at Yaldhurst, and telling Purdon that the horse hasn't felt right warming up. "He was just at the trials stage, and he was a little sore before racing in September. Bill Bishop x-rayed him in the fetlock joints. Nothing showed, but he gave him an injection that would last for three months. I knew as we went along that he was not getting any better, but it was not getting any worse," he said.

By the time he got to Auckland for the Great Northern Derby, Jack Cade was showing the same signs again, and this time an x-ray was more forthcoming. There was a bone chip in a fetlock joint annoying him. Since then, his programme has been carefully monitored to get to the Derby, and perhaps a race or two on either side of it. This has happened, and there's a 3-year-old race at Auckland this month to conclude a campain that has been hugely successful and wonderfully managed. The operation will mean Jack Cade must be boxed for three months, and with the March-April Inter-Dominions being his primary target next season, there is nothing to rush for an little will be seen of him in the Spring.

In line with his Nobilo win the week before in similar company, Jack Cade did not have much more than a good workout to win it. Predictably he led, and just as predictibly, he got it pretty easy once he was there. "He could have gone three twelve, even better, if he had to," said Purdon. When Paul Kerr's horse dropped off at the quarter, he pricked his ears. I knew there was more petrol in the tank if I needed it. He's a bit better than good. He's a great horse. I don't think Vic (Il Vicolo) would be any better. There is a lot of bottom to this horse. Once we get his joints tidied up and he has a good spell, I think he will be a very good 4-year-old," he said.

A gallant second was Hot Shoe Shuffle, the only filly in the race, and a stablemate of Gracious Knight who was to win the Easter Cup just an hour or so later.

The son of the 1995 Derby winner Il Vicolo, who is owned by Purdon in partnership with John Seaton, has won 9 of his 19 starts, been second or third in eight others, and has stakes of $446,179. As well as winning the Derby, Purdon won two other Group races, the Welcome Stakes with Light And Sound and the Trotting Championship with Waihemo Hanger, another who has been the beneficiary of the Purdon pool. To win three Group races in a night is a remarkable achievement by a superb horseman, and while it is very rare it is not unique. In 1992, Roy and Barry Purdon achieved the same result at the Met's Easter meeting, winning tjhe Welcome Stakes with Hitchcock from stablemates Mark Roy and Mister Wolf Blass; the Easter Cup with Insutcha from stablemates Christopher Vance and Two Under, and the Derby with Kiwi Scooter.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in NZHR Weekly


YEAR: 2001


Everyone has a favourite horse. Mark Purdon's will always be Il Vicolo, the brilliant son of Vance Hanover which helped put him on the map when he launched his training career in the 1995/96 season.

Beaten only three times at two and never at three, Il Vicolo won 31 races in total and his back-to-back New Zealand Cup victories in 1995 and 1996 sit highest on the shelf of Purdon's fondest memories. And now that he is winning races with Il Vicolo's progeny, it is the next best thing. Purdon guided Jack Cade to an all-the-way victory in the PGG Yearling Sales Series Open, an event Il Vicolo himself won seven years earlier.

The win has pushed Jack Cade's dad into second on the list of leading sires of juveniles (by dollars won) for the season, which is no mean feat considering this is his first crop. Jack Cade (three wins), Tricky Vic (two) and Lord Vicolo (one) have been the main contributors, vindicating Purdon's faith that he would make it as a stallion. He and principal owner John Seaton specifically went to the Sales last year with the intention of bringing two or three home, and there was something about Jack Cade that stood out. "I liked him on type, and there was a lot of quality about him," Purdon recalled. "Il Vicolo did not have many in the sales, but they were all nice types and I think his average reflected that."

Jack Cade stamped himself as top 2-year-old material right from the word so this season, winning first up at Alexandra Park in a sensational 1:57.5 mile rate over 1700 metres. He has only been out of the money once in six starts since, when an unlucky fifth in the Welcome Stakes, and although not offering excuses Purdon says the gelding hasn't been a hundred percent lately. "He has had an on-going respiratory infection since about February," he said. "It is not a common one, and he has had a cough and a slight nasal discharge. Bill Bishop has been treating him and we are getting on top of it now. He has been a bit brighter in the coat lately."

Just last week Purdon and Seaton sold Il Vicolo to Woodlands Stud. There has been a great deal of interest in the stallion after his first season results, and Purdon says letting him go was one of the hardest decisions he ever had to make. "He had a lot of sentimental value to me. During his first two seasons at stud I used to bring him home and jog him through the winter. It was just a bit of a change for him. He was always a lazy trackworker but he loved it, and he loved being back in the same box that he had when he was racing. We didn't get him back last year because we were just too busy with the horses; I was quite looking forward to having him around again this year."

It is ironic that Purdon signed on the dotted line only a matter of hours before a son of Il Vicolo he trains won the richest 2-year-old event of the season, but he says that is just the way it goes. "There was never o lot of money in owning a stallion in his early days; when you are striving to get numbers on the ground you have to do deals here and there. "But winning the race again with one of his progeny is a great feeling, and I am pleased for the new owners too because it is a nice start for them."

Purdon has not retained any breeding rights to Il Vicolo, saying he is busy enough with the racing team as it is. He has only got one broodmare - Super Smooth, the dam of Scuse Me - but there is a possibility she could visit the Vance Hanover stallion when the time comes next season. Apart from two Il Vicolo fillies bought from the same sale as Jack Cade, Purdon has a yearling gelding by the sire that is showing promise and he also bought another one privately this season.

Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 09May01


YEAR: 2001


It was 4.00pm Saturday when John Seaton got the call. A committee member of the Metropolitan Trotting Club was on the line, with news that Sly Flyin was out of Cup Day's NRM Sires' Stakes Final.

Until the shocking news broke almost everyone thought that the $81,000 winner's cheque had Sly Flyin's name written all over it. But not Seaton. "He was definitely the horse to beat, no doubt. It would have been a different race though, because from where he was he would have had to do work too," he said. "I rang Colin (De Filippi) on the Monday night because I felt sorry for the horse and his connections. I know what it's like to have a horse break down on you; Cool Hand Luke's just one example."

When the big day dawned, Seaton's own representative Jack Cade took the weight of the public's money and he carried it all the way to the post and home with a herculean performance in the Group 1 feature. Parked for the entire journey, Jack Cade gritted his teeth as the last half went by in a sensational 55.7 seconds and he got there by a neck from Lord Vicolo. That lethal combo of Seaton and Mark Purdon had done it again. "This is such a huge thrill," Seaton said afterwards. "To win this race with Il Vicolo and them come back and win it again with one of his sons is just brilliant."

It was indeed a magic result for Il Vicolo, who sired the quinella in the season's first major 3-year-old event with two horses from his very first crop. It wasn't far away from being the perfect fairytale either ...the other by Il Vicolo in the race was Tricky Vic, incidentally bred by Seaton, who met trouble during the running and could have finished a lot closer. Seaton says he doesn't have second thoughts about selling the Vance Hanover stallion that took him to dizzy heights when winning back-to-back NZ Cups in 1995 and 1996. "I didn't like the stud business, it is not me," he said. "I just love watching my horses run. And I knew that with Charlie Roberts and Andrew Grierson he was going to a good home. I don't think people realise just how good Il Vicolo was at two, three, four and five."

Seaton was always keen to get his hands on some of Il Vicolo's progeny, and at the first available opportunity Jack Cade was picked out by his right-hand-man Mark Purdon at the Karaka Sales. The gelding from Smooth Fella mare Janet Blue Chip cost them $30,000; he has now pocketed over $228,000. As for Jack Cade's immediate plans, Seaton says "that's up to Mark."

Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 15Nov01

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