Mark Purdon  underlines the depth in the race by rating five horses as winning chances in the Cordina Chickens Chariots of Fire but one of those is Don’t Stop Dreaming’s keenest rival, fellow Kiwi (Its) Merlin.

“His gate is not the best but this promises to be a fast run race and I understand he bounced back quickly from a hard race leading in. He could be the one to be going strongly at the end of a fast mile”

Mark is aware brother Barry,co-trainer of Merlin, has already won four Chariots of Fire. If Don’t Stop Dreaming wins it will be Mark’s third. The pair tussled all through their three year old careers,Merlin winning the Horse of the Year title on Derby wins but there was little between them at best.

There has been much speculation over the early pace in a fascinating race though Mark feels it might be  being overemphasised.

“As I see it there are maybe three who have brilliant enough speed to lead.There are others with top speed but perhaps not enough to beat those three out of the gate”


One of them is Jason Grimson-trained Frankie Ferocious and Mark is wary the Australian mentor might be out to spoil the Purdon party as he did in the NZ Cup in November.

“He is sure to be looking for the front and must be a good chance to get it”

Mark,like his rivals, is keeping the cards close to the chest, but seems assured to use his 2 gate with Don’t Stop Dreaming but may not want to get into an early brawl with a lot of talent sitting off the lead and waiting for a late claim. One scenario could see him in the trail if the right horse demands the front. 

“They are going to run around 1.50 and I notice these horses have been running very strong final quarters off that sort of pace here lately  so you can’t be giving them a start”

Can his charge run that time ?“At the moment at this stage of his prep I certainly think he can run 1.49. I am very happy with him going into the race”

Mark says  first or second would likely gain an invitation to the Miracle Mile.

“The four year olds are very strong over here, the open class horses not so good overall so they will be looking to the younger ones to bolster the race I would say”

Mark has run into an unexpected bonus with We Walk By Faith as he prepares for the Derby heat on Saturday.

We Walk By Faith is Australian bred and raised and picked out by Nathan as a yearling.

“It’s been really hot here this week, too hot for me,I battle with it, but he hasn’t turned a hair. He is used to it and that  is a big help getting up for a Derby series”


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