Barastoc Grand Circuit Series
Stories: Pacers 2008/2009 Season
This article was first
published in New Zealand Harness Racing Weekly November
19, 2008, and is
reproduced here with permission.
Look out Australia, he's on his way!
Auckland Reactor flies out next Monday bound for Sydney and the Miracle Mile on November 28.
The Mach Three entire was simply sensational in the $300,000 Woodlands NZ Free-For-All at Addington on Show Day, and afterwards co-trainer/driver Mark Purdon confirmed that the next target with the unbeaten freak is a raid across the Tasman.
Harold Park officials visited All Stars Stables this time last week to issue an invitation to Auckland
Reactor's connections, and although he accepted, Purdon still wanted him to
"perform" a couple of days later.
And that he did, dishing out a hiding to the Cup winner Changeover and six other hapless rivals as his unrelenting rampage continued.
Purdon elected to stay out of the early rush for positions in the Free-For-All, tactics which he decided upon as late as the morning of the event.
"My first intention was to go out, but I didn't realise that Monkey King and Baileys Dream had been scratched until I arrived on-course, and that changed the complexion of the race, he said.
"After that my main focus was to keep him off the fence, and things pretty much panned out like I'd envisaged they would."
With Changeover bowling along in front, Purdon wanted Auckland Reactor up outside him as the 800m peg loomed. The two stallions matched motors down the back, that next quarter zipping by in a lightning 26.6, and then turning for home Purdon asked Auckland Reactor to stretch out.
Feeling the whip for the first time since the Sires' Stakes Final a year earlier, the great horse found energy reserves that others couldn't and actually pulled away near the finish, winning by nearly two lengths.
Auckland Reactor stopped the clock at an amazing 2:21.8 for the 2000m speed test, a 1.54 mile rate, and considering the overall time it was simply stunning that he'd been able to produce a final quarter of 27.8 into the teeth of a strong Easterly wind.
Auckland Reactor had already claimed the quickest last half on record at Addington three days earlier when he coasted to a 54.8 split in front; this time he was parked outside the Cup winner, but lowered it again by nearly a full half-second.
So did it feel like they were going that fast?
"It never does with him," said Purdon, who's in awe of the pacer himself.
"I reckon if that race had been run on Cup Day, he'd have probably gone a second and a half quicker."
Purdon also gave a rarely seen whip flourish as he crossed the line ... it was a signal of satisfaction for a mission accomplished, because he admits that there's always a bit of pressure to be felt with a horse that carries so much of the public's money.
So now Australia beckons, and Purdon will travel north by road with the champ this Saturday and accompany him on his journey across the Tasman.
"It's a bit of a shame that the Miracle Mile's not being run at Menangle, because that's a track he would've really loved.
"But around Harold Park it's a race that's pretty much decided by the draw, so we'll just keep our fingers crossed for a favourable marble," he said, adding that he'd like to draw "one to four".
Purdon is no stranger to the Miracle Mile arena, having run an unlucky fourth with Young Rufus and seconds behind Il Vicolo (twice) and Jack Cade.
Auckland Reactor's just that little bit more special than all of them, though.
"They never ran the sort of times that he seems to be able to, week after week," he said.
"I mean, when he went 3.09 in the Derby - that was unheard of.
"It's like he's ahead of his time."
And he says there's a combination of factors that make Auckland Reactor the horse he is.
"Number one is his will to win.
"Plus he's got a great temperament and gait, he just glides along.
"It's like driving a BMW.
"He's the perfect gentleman around home, too.
"Like any stallion, he'll let out a squeal every now and then, but the only time you really hear from him is feed-up time."
After the Miracle Mile, Auckland Reactor will tackle the Victoria Cup on December 20 and then Purdon says he'd like to get him home again.
"We'll just evaluate things as we go after that, I don't think we have to start making any other plans at this stage.
"But it is exciting to be going over there with him.
"The Miracle Mile's one of the few races that's eluded us so far ... that, and a Dominion," he smiled.
Fans of Stig, rest easy.
Auckland Reactor might be able to do a lot of things, but he can't trot.