Mark is not going further than its the “luck of the run” when superstar SELF ASSURED and rising superstar AKUTA clash on Friday meaning the inaugural  Roy Purdon Memorial is also a minor modern Purdon mystery.

The pair are both off 20m in the inaugural running of the richly deserved  Purdon tribute and needless to say Mark and Nathan- as well as Natalie driving Self Assured- will be keen to make the winner’s circle in what on paper looks a four horse race-two for many- as far as punters are concerned.

“Being off 20m at a sprint distance giving a horse like Old Town Road a start won’t be easy, especially with any mistakes, but the small field will help us” Mark said.

Akuta has won four of 8 at the Park and Self Assured  9 of 14 so there is not much leeway there. Self Assured is sure to be in front at one stage of the race and is a very hard horse to get past.Akuta is more known for his flashing late closers and again the small field will suit him. Both have worked up to the collar this week and are ready to go though there will be a little left in the tank with the Auckland Cup next week. Self Assured, with a touch more ringcraft and a house full of ambition may possibly have the edge.

Next week Self Assured will be attempting to win his third Cup,a feat never previously achieved in the long history of the race.Akuta is aiming for his first.Mark and Natalie trained 6 of the last 7 winners of the great race.

“Yes there will be something left for next week of course but they are ready to go” Mark said.

With the amazing Millwood Nike almost a  given these days going for her 14th win and last race in the current campaign in the Sires Stakes final -a G1 feature All Stars has won almost 50 per cent of the time this century (“She is still just thriving up here” ), considerable interest will centre around the young trotters High Step and We Can Have It All in the Young Guns Final and High Energy in the Sires Stakes 3yo Final where the easy winner in the Oaks, Walkinonsunshine, is not present this time. All three Purdon runners were beaten in their leadup.

“We Can Have it All seemed to go out in sympathy with another horse which ended the chances and Nikki’s (Chilcott) youngster is smart and  will be hard again.”

High Energy appeared to be one of the victims of another Tony Herlihy driving special in the Oaks where he had an easy time in front, with High Energy posted out the back and not ready to do too much midrace work only 3rd up. As a result the leader ran home in 57.7 not only the fastest trotting 800 of the night but one of the fastest overall, giving High Energy little hope. 

That run under her belt and it could be a different story this week.

Then there is Oscar Bonavena. Mark professed not to be overly happy with the veteran leading into the leadup on April 28,his first run in three weeks, but he made ground strongly on a Muscle Mountain 56.3 800 and even though off 20m it is a wide ranging rating race (Michael’s Mystic Max has to run against tough old soldiers coming off an R69 limit race  -when a good 4th on the 28th- and he won’t disgrace himself off the front at that) and since Mark is much happier with Oscar Bonavena now though he should  give the Anzac a decent shake this week.

“I am happy with all the team really but they hae to go out and do it”

PIC; Oscar Bonavena Enjoys a swim at Pukekohe on a previous visit. Ready to scoop the pool again ?


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