Day At The Track

More than Bettor

06:32 PM 16 Jul 2017 NZST
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Mark Purdon with Michael, Nathan and Roy
Ashlea Brennan Photography

Sometimes it is not about the money.

Because Mark Purdon’s third Derby winner of the season has proven to be his most satisfying because he could share it with some of those closest to him.

Purdon trained and drove The More The Better to overcome a second line draw in the A$75,000 Queensland Derby on Saturday night, last season’s juvenile of the year remaining unbeaten in three Australian starts.

Winning Derbys is a lucrative hobby for Purdon, having already captured the two strongest in Australasia this season with Vincent --- training the quinella in the NZ Derby and trifecta in the NSW classic.

But Saturday was different because not only does the champion trainer part own The More The Better, he shares in that ownership with his father Roy and his long-time friend Sir David Levene.

Roy is the patriarch of the world-famous racing dynasty and the most popular figure in New Zealand harness racing but now 90, he rarely races horses these days.

So to have him on track at Albion Park was something special.

“It made for a very special win,” says Mark.

“Dad made the effort to come across and so did Pilch (close family friend Neil Pilcher). We have had a great week and got out every day to see people and have a look around.

“So to have both of them here as well as the boys (sons Nathan and Michael) makes this win more memorable.”

The More The Better hasn’t improved as much this season as stablemates Vincent and Ultimate Machete so has dropped down the pecking order but his unbeaten Queensland campaign and the looming Breeders Crown prove the three-year-old season is now so long there are plenty of spoils to go around.

His win was the consolation as the end of a tough week for Purdon-Rasmussen stables with first Smolda and then superstar filly Spanish Armada retired.

“We think she has a fracture in her leg and there was no way we would take any risks with her so she will be retired to stud,” says Purdon.

A standout juvenile, Spanish Armada was the best of her age this season, winning a string of group ones but her NZ Oaks victory in May was one of the greatest in the classic’s long history.

Saturday’s other Albion Park highlight was the supersonic sprint that saw Hectorjayay down My Field Marshal in the A$200,000 Blacks A Fake.


Michael Guerin

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