By Michael Guerin
Trainers Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan have reason to celebrate even before they head to Alexandra Park tonight look for more.
The long-time friends have lodged papers this week to resume their training partnership in the new season, nine years after last training together.
Phelan cut his teeth working with Hall of Famer Purdon and they trained together from 2008 to 2011 before Phelan briefly moved overseas.
The 38-year-old first worked for Steve Telfer when he returned from his time in Australia but has been with Purdon for the last few years and is thrilled to be re-entering their partnership.
“It is like coming home to me,” says Phelan.
“It is a wonderful property which I love and Barry and Katrina have been great to me.
“And we have some lovely horses here so I am looking forward to next season even more now.”
Purdon may have nothing left to prove in harness racing but he has rarely trained better, with his strike rate last season the highest of his career, albeit with an emphasis on quality rather than quantity these days.
“Scott and I get on really well and he is a great worker. But the quality I admire most is he cares about the horses and getting the job done well,” offered Purdon.
While the partnership won’t officially resume until the new season in August, the stable could easily have two winners tonight.
They have both Major Jellis (10m handicap) and On The Cards (55m) in tonight’s main pace where they clash with NZ’s best three-year-old pacer in
Hard Copy (45m) and in-form mare Callie’s Delight (30m).
The small field and step up to 2700m distance may partially negate the handicaps for the favourites but the tempo for the first mile of the race could dictate their chances
“I think On The Cards will be better for his fresh up run but these are tricky races,” says Purdon.
Rival trainer Ray Green feels the same with Hard Copy, who be believes is forward enough to win yet still at the improving stage.
“I am happy with him but he has been away for a while and a lot will depend on how fast they go and where they all end up in the running,” says Green.
Purdon has impressive debut runner-up Marathon Man in the first race at tonight’s race Wednesday meeting at Alexandra Park, in which he has barrier one rather than the poor barrier he had to come from last start.
“He was very good behind what looked a nice maiden winner last start and should be hard to beat,” he says.
One of the other highlights of the night is the return of Credit Master and Kenny’s Dream in the main trot (race five) but like Copy That they face big handicaps fresh up and may have to chase a race fit rival like Tricky Ric who won the comparable race last start but doesn’t receive a penalty for that.