It was the Mark Purdon show at the semi-final phase of this year's Breeders Crown at Melton Friday night.
The Blue Chip Farms Breeders Crown series went to another level last night as the two and three-year-old pacers staked their claim in each of the eight semi-finals held on the night.
Much of the early talk was around the New Zealand invaders but the first semi-final for the two-year-old boys had punters on the rocks. Short priced Kiwi Bit Of A Legend ($1.60) galloped in the opening stages and had to work hard out three-wide to get back into the race.
Palmisano ($16.50) found the lead in front of Ginger Bliss ($12.60) who shot off the arm and although they were both valiant the race turned into a head to head clash. Bit Of A Legend eventually found the top as they straightened for home but as game as he was Lennytheshark ($4.90) was too strong after having a soft run three back on the pegs.
John Justice-trained and drove the ever consistent colt to his third win out of 11 starts. Speaking to Rob Auber after the race Justice was buzzing.
“He’s a magnificent little horse, they always say the cream rises to the top and he’s coming up now. I thought he was only about 95% tonight so if we can get him that extra 5% in 10 days time he will be hard to beat,” he said.
In the second of the semi’s for the juvenile colts and geldings the New Zealander’s regained control as the aptly named Border Control ($1.60) led all the way to score in a quick 1:56.7 mile rate. Compatriot Franco Nelson looked his only danger but swung wide on the final bend and battled into third; he is sure to be better for his first Australian experience.
Geoff Webster’s improving pacer Flaming Flutter ($20.90) worked hard outside the leader to go down by just under two metres.
It was quickly turning into not just the Kiwi’s night but more emphatically Mark Purdon’s who notched up the second of four winners in the race and he was happy to praise the likely favourite for the final.
“He’s a really strong horse, he’s versatile as well which is handy, outside them or in front he is just the all-round package,” Purdon said.
Fly Like An Eagle ($2.70) was displaced as favourite in the first of the semi-finals for the three-year-old boys by Texican ($2.40) and the race looked to be going to script as the latter turned for the judge clear. Purdon worked hard on the second favourite however and they joined in along the sprint lane to snatch victory close to the line.
Mr Nickel ($4.30) rounded out a memorable night for the Shaky Isles horseman with a gritty performance to get him safely into the final. Waldenburg ($5.00) tried hard to run him down and Keayang Steamer ($7.40) tried to cling on late but there was just no stopping Purdon by that stage.
The race was run in a mile rate of 1:56.7 which was significantly quicker than Fly Like An Eagle’s semi which was dominated from the front.
Final fields and barrier draws will be confirmed at Sunday afternoon’s Tabcorp Park Melton meeting.