Mark had mixed ambitions as he began his thoroughbred training career last week.

Mark had two very different  ambitions as he started his official career as trainer of thoroughbreds last week.

On the one hand he is determined to make  his own way, learning as he goes along, enjoying the new experience with his group of youngsters and accepting there is a learning curve involved.

On the other he has the same target that  trainers with decades of experience and success share. To win a race at Group One level.


“I know that sounds like a big call but you have to have goals and that will be mine. It may not happen but I believe in aiming as high as you can”

Mark has four youngsters in his care,three yearlings purchased at Karaka by Savabeel,Proisir and Tivaci ;and the grey War Decree two year old,Buster Shaw, who will be the first to be saddled in the stable colours,hopefully later in the year.

“He should be ready to go to the track sometime in July. He will start at home here next week. Then we will have to wait and see how it goes.He’s a lovely horse to dao anything with ” Mark said.

While Buster Shaw was placed with Mike McCann when Mark was still wholly committed  to the harness team now he  is his own chief adviser-by choice.

“I prefer to establish my own routines at this stage,learn from the horses and use my experience with the standardbreds to see how we go. There’s a lot that transfers straight over between the codes especially in the early stages”

One of those is the use of the treadmill to which the youngsters have already become familiar with. Another is the jog machine and it has been well accepted also.

“I am happy with the yearlings. They have settled down pretty well in the new environment  and respond well to increased handling”

The new order at Purdon Racing means Mark is seen less often in the cart on hopple days.

“My role going forward is  being there to advise and help out where necessary. But Nathan and his team are going well and this is a time of year when the harness team is at its lightest. I will still take a turn in the cart when required and available ”

Jockey/trainer Sam Wynne has offered to help out as an exercise rider when she can.probably  starting with  Buster Shaw this week all going well and the McCann apprentices will be made available on visits to Riccarton. Mark is still assessing his other needs as exercise riders, being aware of what a key strategy in training it is.

“Ideally I can find someone who lives in the area around here who can fill a role. It is one of the challenges as time goes on”

Mark is clearly enthusiastic about his new role but the value of experience means he is taking it one step at a time at this early stage-but quietly  aiming for much bigger strides to come.

VIDEO: Buster and Roy ready for a rolic in the paddock

PICS: ABOVE: Buster Shaw and the Savabeel colt “Roy” (named after you know who)

BELOW: The Proisir colt “Bazil” looks like he has enjoyed a turn in the job machine

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