by Mike Love, Harness News Desk
The two-year-old colts and geldings are set to battle at Ashburton today in the 104th running of the Group 2 Sapling Stakes, for $45,000.
Fixed odds favourite, the Mark and Nathan Purdon trained Bronson ($2.70FF) will be looking to turn the tables on the Katie Cox trained second favourite, and Welcome Stakes winner, It’s Tough ($2.80FF). However, the sleeper and 3rd favourite in the field A Little Silence ($5.00FF) may have his connections making the most noise when he lines up for Woodend Beach trainer Matt Purvis.
The Downbytheseaside gelding showed grit after finishing a close second in the Welcome stakes after sitting parked for the final 1200m. With his good draw today (1), Ricky May may appreciate a much more economical run.
“He’ll be able to get off the arm if Ricky asks him to. There’s options there if we need them.
“I’d say he’s a solid top 3 chance. Mark and Nathan’s one will obviously be hard to beat.”
Purvis is yet to taste Group race victory – the closest being when Rocknroll Mama placed in the Group 1 Jewels Diamond at Cambridge in 2021 behind Need You Now.
Purvis also lines up maiden trotter Curator (opened at $21.00FF now into $4.20FF) in Race 1. The five-year-old Father Patrick mare is a horse with ability, however will need to do things right for punters, with Ricky May in the bike.
“I’ve made a couple of alterations to her gear this week, and her work has been nice.
“If she steps away with them she’s a solid top 3 chance.”
Ruby Malone ($15.00FF Race 3) and Finders Keepers ($3.20FF Race 6) have been domiciled with Purvis, and are both not without a chance.
“She’s (Ruby Malone) a solid top 3 chance.
“And I’ve made some gear changes to Finders Keepers gear since Rangiora. With a decent run she’s a solid winning chance.”
Race 5 will see Raklou ($1.75FF) looking to make it a hat trick of wins when she lines up in the Helen Pope Fillies Classic at Group 3 level over the 1700m, for a stake of $27,000.
The daughter of Sweet Lou has been nothing short of impressive in her three career starts to date, winning like a very good horse at Addington at her last outing on May 19. Trainer-driver Peter Hunter admits the filly will face her toughest test to date – both with her draw, and the class of the field.
“A nice field. Unfortunately she’s going to have to do some work at some stage.
“A few newbies in there that have done alright at the trials and are all drawn inside of her.”
All things going well today, Raklou will return home for a break before being set for a tilt at some bigger races in the spring.
“She’s Sires Stakes paid up, so that will be something to look to.”