Mark Purdon gets the 'first laugh' with Chariots barrier draw

29 February 2024 | HRNSW MEDIA | MICHAEL COURT
Mark Purdon after winning with Dont Stop Dreaming at Menangle last Saturday night.

Mark Purdon after winning with Dont Stop Dreaming at Menangle last Saturday night. Photo by Club Menangle

IT’S shaping as one of the most competitive fields of four-year-olds ever gathered at Tabcorp Park Menangle.

Yet champion New Zealand horseman Mark Purdon had the ‘first laugh’ when his boom four-year-old Dont Stop Dreaming drew the coveted two barrier when the final field was drawn on Monday.

It should be an enthralling start to the $250,000 Cordina Chicken Farms Chariots Of Fire when the starter says go.

While Purdon will be desperate to hold the lead and play from the front, drawn right alongside him is Saturday night’s impressive 1:49.8 winner Better Be The Best.

With the grandson of the late, great A. D. Turnbull in the sulky, Nathan Turnbull will no doubt be hoping to cross Purdon at the start and give the Kiwi star something to chase.

“My horse is in a good place and a run like last Saturday night will top him off perfectly for next week,” said Purdon.

“He got away with a couple of nice sectionals but I thought he handled the last half particularly well.

“He had a little bit there at the finish but this horse has that high speed and I couldn’t be happier with him.

“He’s just a great little horse although there’s not much between he and Its Merlin at home, the barrier draw was always going to be crucial.”

Its Merlin, trained by Mark Purdon’s elder brother Barry has drawn out in gate seven, which suggests his reinsman Zac Butcher will be forced to drive for luck if he hopes to be in the finish.

“The draw was all that separated them at home and this is a great field,” said Mark.

“The advantage in the draw certainly makes a difference.

“Its Merlin is versatile and sprinted fast from the one-one last week.”

Purdon said his horse had also stepped up a lot.

“We haven’t exposed him to the Aussies as much as we have probably done with our good ones in the past,” he said.

“But a trip like this has probably been the making of him.

“I’m certain he’ll be thereabouts and that draw certainly helps a lot.”


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