For the 21st time this century, the Purdon stable has topped the money list among harness trainers, with just over $3m in stakes won for the 2023 season- more than $1m ahead of the Premiership leaders Robert and Jenna Dunn to whom Purdon Racing will be runners- up.

While this is well short of the best of the All Stars era when $4.56 million was won in NZ alone in 2019, it has been achieved with a huge drop in the number of starters which was 342 that season,conducted from August to the following July. This year the stable will have had 271 starters reflecting a trend of Mark and Nathan (an Natalie notably in earlier seasons)  to narrow their field of operations in recent years.

In 2011 the stable reached its peak of runners (589) who won 103 races and $2.715m in stakes. In its record season of 2014 (157 wins) when it won more races including Australia than any New Zealand stable had previously managed, it had just over 500 starters for $3.07m in stakes and have won almost the same this year with less than  40  runners short of half that number.

It is quite a remarkable stat that the Rolleston stable has only once been beaten in stakes won since 2006 (the following year when only 7th in the Premiership it still won most money heading the Tim Butt/Phil Anderson and Geoff Small stables) and that was the Covid-interrupted 2021 season when still 2nd even though 12th in the Premiership.Hayden Cullen took over the stables for a 6 month period winning over $1.6m in stakes and 53 races. Those added stakes would have still been the best of any stable.

The emphasis has shifted away from just Premierships to more on money won  At one stage the number of starters rival trainers used to pursue the Premiership reached nearly 850 in a season but those numbers have have generally dropped considerably in recent years apart from Michael House running a record of over 1000 in 2022.The premiership will be won with close to 800 starters this season more than three times the number of the Purdon stable in runner up position. It is now eight years since the stable had as many as 400 starters in a season.

Four stables, including the ever consistent Barry Purdon (Scott Phelan)  barn and Greg and Nina Hope have been “millionaire” stables this season .Last year it was only three but the Hopes got very close.There were no less than eight millionaire stables in the quirky 2021 including Michael House for the first time with his 1000+ starters and in second position.The Purdon/Phelan and Telfer barns also reached the milestone along with Ray Green,the Dunns and Hayden Cullen.

Purdon Racing therefore on numbers depends on producing the best horses to win the big stakes and the competition is always hot in the sales ring to prevent that happening. But even if it never did it is still a record for the ages.

PIC: The Tradition Continues; Years Later Purdon Family Still the Cash Kings of Harness Racing






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