The star of Oscar Bonavena is rapidly rising in the Australasian trotting ranks, and he furthered his imposing reputation when comfortably winning the Gr.2 Group 1 Turf Bar Trotters Flying Mile (1609m) at Cambridge on Tuesday night.
The Majestic Son four-year-old began well from his second gate draw to settle in the trail behind stablemate Enhance Your Calm, where he remained for the majority of the race.
Enhance Your Calm broke turning for home, however, Purdon was able to guide his charge into the passing lane where he letdown well to win comfortably by 1-3/4 lengths over the fast-finishing Majestic Man.
The victory was an early Christmas present for co-trainer and driver Mark Purdon, and his father Roy, who co-owns the entire with US-based expat Kiwi trainer Chris Ryder.
It was Oscar Bonavena’s seventh win from eight starts this season and there is a stark warning for his opposition heading into the new year, with Purdon believing there is still plenty of improvement left in his charge.
“He’s probably not travelling quite as well as he was maybe two or three weeks ago, but if we can just iron him out he will be better again,” said Purdon, who prepares the four-year-old with Natalie Rasmussen.
“But he was good on the day and he was very strong in the run home. He had a perfect trip and capitalised on that.
“That was his biggest test to date and he has come through it with flying colours.”
Purdon is excited by the prospects of Oscar Bonavena and he thinks he has the ability to reach the same lofty heights as some of his stable predecessors.
“He is a horse I have got a high opinion of,” Purdon said. “He would be just behind (nine-time Group One winner) I Can Doosit, I would say. I have had a lot of very good trotters and it’s probably too early to make that prediction, but I feel he has got the ability.”
While pleased with the win on Tuesday, Purdon was a bit perplexed by stablemate Enhance Your Calm’s antics late in the piece when breaking and subsequently being disqualified from the race.
“He got out of the gate very good and led-up for most of the way and Brent (Mangos, driver) said he felt really good down the back straight, but just when the pressure went on he just got the wobbles a little bit and eventually broke,” Purdon said.
“There is just some ironing out to do with him.”
Both runners are set to head to Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve where they will vie for Group One glory in the Sims Pacific Metals 2019 National Trot (2700m).
Enhance Your Calm is then set for a return to Cambridge in the new year to contest the Gr.3 Cambridge Trotters Flying Stakes (1609m), while Oscar Bonavena will head across the Tasman to try and plunder Australian spoils.
“Oscar Bonavena will race at Alexandra Park on the 31st and from there he will head to Australia and he will have a lead-up run before his main aim, the Great Southern Star,” Purdon said.
“Enhance Your Calm is a little bit the same. He will contest the 31st and then we will probably bring him back to Cambridge on the 10th (of January). – Cambridge Raceway