Saturday, November 29, 2008
NEW ZEALAND HARNESS RACING HAS A NEW PACING CHAMPION - AUCKLAND REACTOR THE PRIDE OF ALL NEW ZEALAND AND HIS INTERNATIONAL OWNERS TOO...
Auckland Reactor - best pacer in New Zealand - 15 wins from 15 starts, including NZ Free-For-All defeat over Awesome Armbro and this year's New Zealand Cup champion in world record time, the mighty Changeover. Has the potential to stand up there with the likes of the legendary Cardigan Bay, and champion racehorse and sire, the mighty Christian Cullen and a few others.
Auckland Reactor and Mark Purdon - winning this season's NZ Free-For-All Auckland Reactor made it 14 from 14 and proved himself the best pacer in New Zealand with an emphatic success in the $300,000 Woodlands NZ Free For All (2000 metres) in national record time of 2:21.8 at Addington Raceway in Christchurch this afternoon Friday 14 November.
The big Addington crowd stood and saluted its latest champion with a rousing ovation of the kind that is only reserved for idols.
Changeover might have been their champion on Cup Day in world record time but the crowd that had been primed for the "Show Down on Show Day'' was always in Auckland Reactor's corner.
The cynics that maintained he had not been beaten a top horse maintained he was vulnerable. They reasoned he would have to step up a couple of notches.
But nobody told Auckland Reactor or Mark Purdon who drove him as if he was the best horse in the field.
The freakish son of boom sire Mach Three had been billed by many as the Young Pretender but the boy walloped the men with a showing that reflected his grit and guts as much as his class and brilliance.
There is no escaping the fact that the Internationally-owned $4 million star is the complete package of mobile start racing.
Auckland Reactor, revealing an incredibly competitive attitude, moved mid race to sit parked without a trail or cover outside Tuesday's Cup hero Changeover who got away with a sedate early sectional in front.
David Butcher had seemed to be getting away with murder so to speak. Mark Purdon sensed the time had come to put his champion in the race and Changeover firmly within his compass.
Auckland Reactor threw down the gauntlet to Changeover early in the run home.
In a bitter two horse war that brought the crowd to its feet, Auckland Reactor was clearly strongest and was untroubled to beat Changeover's stable mate Awesome Armbro by a length and three quarters.
Changeover was a length away third, gallant, but humbled by the undisputed champion of the country's raceways.
Auckland Reactor's 2:21.8 for the mobile 2000 metres erased last year's winner Waipawa Lad's 2:22 from the New Zealand records scroll.
The winner's time represented a mile rate of 1:54, the leaders' home in 54.4 and 27.8
Fame, they say, is somewhat fleeting. Changeover's connections will now be the first to remind you of that after today's much awaited feature.
Not even the cynics would have expected any horse in the country to sit parked outside Changeover and beat him home decisively, but Auckland Reactor made it look easy.
Auckland Reactor's success was a replay of his NRM Sires' Stake triumph a year earlier when he surged forward, sat parked and kicked again for a runaway win.
Southland trainer the late Dave Todd, the man who made Cardigan Bay, told the writer many years ago, so did Cup Kings Cecil Devine, that horses which could kick well from the "death seat'' in top company were true champions.
Cardigan Bay could do it, and so can Auckland Reactor in Gr 1 class.
"I pulled the plugs today with $300,000 at stake and I tapped him up a little with the whip...I could see Changeover okay but I didn't know where Gotta Go Cullen and those other horses were,'' driver Purdon said after.
"I think that nice easy run on Cup Day topped him off perfectly and improved him without hurting him for today,'' he added.
Purdon said his ace would fly to Sydney on probably Monday week (24 November) for the Miracle Mile four days later at Harold Park in Sydney.
"The Harold Park track will make it tough no matter what he draws...I had been hoping the race would have been run on the bigger new Menangle circuit (1400 metres)''
Purdon said New Zealand's latest King of the Paceways would be based with legendary New South Wales horseman Brian Hancock, a great mate of his father Roy Purdon, for the duration of his Miracle Mile campaign.
Mark Purdon said that all going well it was only a matter of time before Auckland Reactor would be campaigned in USA where hopefully he would stamp his mark on the International stage and take a fast mile record with which to launch his stud career.
The discerning and knowledgeable racegoers of Addington today paid homage to their own champion who is trained at Rolleston on the outskirts of Christchurch.
Auckland Reactor, the horse that has won the hearts of a harness racing mad nation, flew the southern flag with distinction against the north's best Changeover in a clash that took many back to Hands Down's defeat of Delightful Lady in the 1980 NZ Cup.
The Young Pretender certainly made his mark in his first time in the ring against the true heavyweights.
Cassius Clay and Mike Tyson couldn't have made a better fist of it.
Mark Purdon and Auckland Reactor Barry Lichter - Sunday Star Times | Sunday, 16 November 2008
They looked like just another bunch of Aussies come to pat the champ but this group were missing their cameras. When they walked out into Auckland Reactor's paddock at Rolleston, on the outskirts of Christchurch, they were on a much more important mission than having their pictures taken with the unbeaten pacer.
New South Wales Harness Racing Club chief executive John Dumesny was there to make sure racing's new excitement machine would be in Sydney in a couple of weeks as the headline act for the $A500,000 Miracle Mile (mobile 1760m).
Never mind the stunning win in Friday's New Zealand Free-For-All, the traditional ticket into Australasia's most prestigious speed race, Dumesny saw enough on Tuesday at Addington when Auckland Reactor humbled his opposition and was never out of third gear. It was enough for him to issue his invitation to trainer Mark Purdon immediately.
This was the horse they most wanted. Never mind Australian champion Black's A Fake and emerging star Melpark Major, the real drawcard for what could be Harold Park's last Miracle Mile was right here in front of them.
But was this half-asleep animal quietly munching grass really the racetrack warrior yet to be beaten to the line in a race? Were they even in the right paddock?
Few among the coachload of Aussies who preceded them could believe how Auckland Reactor, still an entire, was so quiet and unassuming.
The drive out to Purdon's All Stars stable to see the unbeaten pacer was a highlight of their tour. Sydney's Joal Fowler declared you couldn't put a price on the picture he had taken of himself with the Reactor.
Another said he'd expected to see a massive specimen, with the presence of Christian Cullen, not the lamb-like individual who yawned as scores of cameras and cellphones were pointed at him. Being cuddled and kissed on the nose hardly registered either.
It's one of the reasons he's so good, Purdon volunteers later. "He doesn't think or act like he's good, he's just laid-back like one of the pack."
Take the horse out for a jog and you wouldn't think he was anything out of the ordinary. In fact, you might be tempted to think the beast known as "Mac" was less than ordinary."Try and jog him and he'll trot, pace and canter," says Purdon. "He's so unco-ordinated when he's going slowly, he hasn't got any idea. He never feels nice until you're up to half pace and then he's beautiful."
That's why Purdon is wary about taking on standing start races in the immediate future. At his most recent standing start, at Ashburton, only a sensational last 800 metres of 52.9sec rescued his unbeaten string after he lost valuable ground at the start.
It's that kind of speed which makes Purdon so unusually cocky about his chances in the Miracle Mile.
As his horse rolls in some soil nearby, Purdon lackadaisically says "Mac" could run 1min 47sec for a mile if he was racing in the United States. At Menangle, Sydney's new 1400m racing centre which is soon to take over from Harold Park, Purdon has no doubts Mac could break 1:50.
At Harold Park, on November 28, he predicts he could run 1:52. "And if he happened to get a bad run, he'd still be competitive."
Purdon says Auckland Reactor's cup day win last week was one of his easiest. "I asked him to go from the quarter to the furlong [200 metres] and he coasted over the last 100 [clocking 54.8sec and 26.3sec respectively].
"And that sums up most of his runs. He only has to do his best for so long and then he doesn't need to be pushed. I've been associated with a lot of great horses but none like him. And to think he's come at a time when I'm setting up this place."
All Stars was three bare paddocks when Purdon moved south from Auckland in 2001 and bought the 28 hectares (70 acres) as an investment for $10,000 an acre. Today a $1.2 million stable stamps the showpiece property which even without its revolutionary straight training track, jog tracks, paddocks and utility barns would fetch $35,000 an acre.
But Purdon doesn't have to look far to see how he's going to pay it off: he has never had such a strong team.
And even though he has yet to map out a definite campaign for Auckland Reactor, the dollar signs alongside the races he is considering would keep any bank manager happy.
The $A375,000 Victoria Cup (mobile 2575m) at Moonee Valley on December 20 looks the likely target after the Miracle Mile and then, because EI quarantine restrictions are set to be lifted in the new year, he says he'll have plenty of options at home and in Australia.
THE PLANS were less clear-cut a few months ago when Auckland Reactor suddenly developed a mystery co-ordination problem, probably caused by nerve damage after the horse became cast in his box.
Vets advised he be boxed for three months but Purdon was so worried he was going to hurt himself, he let the patient out a month early and started a regime of daily walking.
Purdon won't forget those hour-long sessions in the middle of winter, when his hands and feet would get so frozen, he took to walking alongside the horse, instead of sitting in the sulky.
When Auckland Reactor was ready, he graduated to some "resistance training." In the corner of the tack room lie two dusty old car tyres, which he pulled behind him, along with the sulky.
"It meant he'd had four months work before he started at Ashburton.
"I thought given how hard a run he had there it might knock him but the next day you wouldn't have known he'd had a race, he was jumping out of his skin.
"But that's him. Things that other horses struggle to do, he does so easily."
Courtesy of Sunday Star Times
Auck Reactor triumphs
David McCarthy - The Press | Saturday, 15 November 2008
Mark Purdon has been confident for months Auckland Reactor could produce the champion performance in the New Zealand Free-for-All at Addington yesterday.
He knew the horse was a champion and he was right. But he did not know until a few hours before the race exactly how he would achieve it.
The Rolleston Rocket caused murmurs among an excited crowd drawn to his clash with Tuesday's record-breaking New Zealand Cup winner, Changeover, by dropping out of the early rush for positions when most expected him to blast to the lead. That had probably been co-trainer and driver Purdon's original plan.
"I did not realise until I got to the course that Monkey King and Baileys Dream were both scratched," Purdon said.
"That changed the complexion of the race. I knew that where Changeover was drawn, David (Butcher) would be going for an early position. I decided not to get involved in that."
It was a smart move. Changeover recorded a scorching early 400m (25.8sec) and got to the front, Butcher then easing the pace. Purdon's next winning decision was one of which rugby tacticians would approve.
He decided to take the wind in the second half, staying out the back with cover until the end of the main straight which had been harried all afternoon by a strong easterly.
When past that, Auckland Reactor shot past the rest of the field to set up a head-to-head battle with Changeover. The ear plugs were pulled at the turn, Purdon used the whip seriously for the first time in the champ's short career and a shattering last 800m in 54.2sec and a 400m into the teeth of the wind in 27.8sec put paid to Changeover who also succumbed late to his tough stablemate, Awesome Armbro.
When the dust settled and the applause for a once-in-a-decade performance had died down, Auckland Reactor had an unbeaten record of 14 against most of the best horses in the country; a New Zealand record for 2000m of 2min 21.8sec sensational in the conditions and with one big question among the harness fraternity hanging over his head. What happens now?
There were fears a windy afternoon in November might be the last time the fans see one of the more remarkable pacers of modern times. The good news is that is unlikely.
Auckland Reactor heads to Australia via Auckland next Wednesday for the Miracle Mile at Harold Park on November 28. The Victoria Cup on December 29 is the next target.
"We have not planned anything past that at this stage," said Purdon on swirling rumours he might not race in New Zealand again, partly because of the stiff quarantine regulations (five weeks) at present applying to horses going to Australia.
"My view is that we don't want to ask him for too much this season because he still has some maturing to do. I would like to wait and see how he handles the next challenge of travelling and racing."
Auckland Reactor was sold to a syndicate of largely North American buyers at a valuation of $4m this year and John Curtin manages the syndicate which includes the Stallion Station of Victoria which stands the champion's sire, Mach Three, in the southern hemisphere.
The owners are certainly looking for a near world record mile time in the United States from Auckland Reactor to seal a rich breeding future like his sire.
Courtesy of The Press
Auckland Reactor paying back price tag
By Greg Tourelle | 15:02 AEST Sat Nov 15 2008
John Curtin still gets the shivers when he thinks of the $4 million he raised to buy boom pacer Auckland Reactor, brilliant winner of the $300,000 New Zealand Free-For-All at Addington.
Curtin bought the horse for mainly North American interests after he dominated the New Zealand three-year-olds in an unbeaten spree.
"It is quite scary the numbers really," Curtin admitted after getting goosebumps watching The Reactor stretch his winning run to 14 races in beating Awesome Armbro and New Zealand Cup winner Changeover in the 2000m mobile yesterday.
"At the time you just did the job and afterwards thought `hell, that was $4 million'."
The buyers saw something special in Auckland Reactor, with his potential as a sire the key factor in the sale, Curtin said.
They must have had major doubts when Auckland Reactor went amiss with a mystery back ailment soon after the sale, but yesterday's win - his first against the established older stars - was a major relief, something that was on trainer-driver Mark Purdon's mind immediately after the race.
"The new owners paid a lot of money for him and I think that has been vindicated today," said Purdon, who trains the Mach Three four-year-old in partnership with Grant Payne at Rolleston, Christchurch.
Purdon isn't normally an emotional type but waved his whip in a victory salute after Auckland Reactor chalked up a new national mark for the 2000m of 2:21.8.
His mile rate was 1:54.1, while he ran the fastest closing 800m, 54.4s, ever recorded in this country, bettering the 54.8s he ran in the junior free-for-all on Tuesday.
"I said last week he is a champion and ... he just proved he is," Purdon said after the race.
Auckland Reactor began slowly from gate four and Changeover, though on the second line, was soon in front of him, taking the lead around the 1600m mark and slowing the tempo.
The Reactor was back near the tail of the eight-horse field and Purdon waited until the end of the straight before taking him around the field, sitting outside Changeover at the 900m mark, not wanting to challenge earlier because of the strong north-easterly wind blowing down the straight.
The pair powered home from the 800m, with Auckland Reactor getting the better of Changeover halfway down the straight and then Awesome Armbro running on strongly for second with Changeover, who set a world record time in winning the New Zealand Cup on Tuesday, tiring to third.
Purdon will now take Auckland Reactor to Sydney for the $A500,000 Miracle Mile on November 28 and he will race next month in the Victoria Cup at Moonee Valley.
He will then have to decide whether to return the superstar to New Zealand for the Auckland Cup on March 6 or stay in Australia for the InterDominions, which begin on the Gold Coast in mid-March.
Auckland Reactor is destined for a stud career in the US but he won't be going for another year at least if Curtin gets his way.
He would like to see Auckland Reactor run in next year's New Zealand Cup.
NZ Cup Trial - Auckland Reactor 5th Nov 2008
Amazing Comeback at Ashburton 27 OCT 2008
Auckland Reactor to bypass 2008 NZ Cup
All parties have happily agreed to star pacer Auckland Reactor bypassing next month's $1.2million Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington. Driver and co trainer Mark Purdon and John Curtin of South Auckland who manages the 11-strong syndicate of International owners confirmed today Tuesday October 28 that the original "Plan A'' of mobile start racing would now be pursued.
"He hasn't got it quite right from a stand yet and it would have meant three hard races in a short time taking in yesterday's Ashburton race, the Kaikoura Cup and the New Zealand Cup itself,'' Purdon said.
Purdon and Curtin said it would have been a shame if the star's early season edge had been blunted by a "gutbuster'' exertion after losing early ground from a stand against the best horses.
Such a strenuous run could invite the risk of flattening the son of Mach Three for the rest of a long season when he could win a lot of money, they said.
"You can't give the very best horses too big a start after breaking from a stand,'' Purdon explained.
Auckland Reactor may perform at the Addington Cup trials in eight days (Wednesday 5 November) providing there was a suitable opportunity for him, Purdon said.
"I am pleased with the way he has come through his Ashburton race which I thought might have knocked him a little, but he is as good as gold,'' he said.
Curtin said all 11 individual owners of the star in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA were "happy and relaxed'' with the decision to bypass the Cup.
"He can now go into the Junior (Firestone) Free For All on Cup Day, then hopefully the $400,000 Woodlands Free For All on Show Day,'' Curtin said.
"All going well, the Miracle Mile at Harold Park in Sydney worth $A500,000 on 28 November could be an option if he was racing well enough to be invited by New South Wales club officials.''
Curtin added the A$375,000 Victoria Cup (mobile start) at Moonee Valley on 13 December was a further possibility if he went to Australia and raced up to expectations.
"Auckland Reactor is now an industry horse that could be a draw card for clubs, an attraction for racegoers, children and punters, as well as a potentially huge asset to his connections,'' Curtin added.
Weighing up all those key factors, the best thing possible in the horse's best interests was paramount and trainer Purdon was the most qualified to make the last call, Curtin said.
Meanwhile Purdon is aiming six horses at the Addington fixture on Friday night
His All Stars barn that is running red hot with 12 wins in the last eight days will, all going well, be represented by Eric's Legend (class racing), exciting filly Joyfuljoy, Millwood Nebraska, Asset Rich, Almost A Christian and Sleepy Tripp.
Cup decision within days after star's dashing win
4:00AM Tuesday Oct 28, 2008
Auckland Reactor galloped at the start but recovered to extend his unbeaten record to 12 wins in the 2400m Turf Bar Pace at Ashburton yesterday.
Trainer Mark Purdon said the stallion's owners would take the next day or two to decide whether to pay a late nomination fee for the New Zealand Cup (3200m) on November 1.
Purdon said that while the 4-year-old was brilliant in winning his first start since an enforced layoff, his standing start manners continue to cast the biggest doubt he has on a start in the $1.2 million New Zealand Cup.
Although the star is not nominated, TAB fixed-odds bookmakers had him at $3.50 to win the Cup before the race and immediately trimmed him in to $2.50.
Changeover, a gallant and unlucky second in the Ashburton Flying Stakes earlier on the programme, is now the $3 second favourite.
Auckland Reactor had to make up a lot of ground after his early gallop as three rivals in the six-win event cleared out by eight lengths early.
But he made up the deficit easily and powered down the outside to take the race, though smart mare Nearea Franco fought him all the way. B Grudge was more than four lengths away third.
Auckland Reactor cut out the 2400m in three minutes 2.99 seconds, with his last 800m in 54.2s and 400m in 25.6s, which even the on-course judge, in his announcement of the official placings, termed "sensational".
Tough Pukekohe pacer Baileys Dream won the Flying Stakes in a brave performance after breaking at the start, while reigning Cup favourite Changeover flew at him late after having trouble clearing the tiring Tribute at the 200m mark.
Baileys Dream's stablemate Monkey King showed he was progressing well towards the Cup by fighting gamely for third.
Changeover is now at $3 for the New Zealand Cup and Baileys Dream firmed to $8. Monkey King is a solid $5 third favourite.
Courtesy of the NZ Herald
Reactor blasts back to remain unbeaten
October 28, 2008 12:00am
HARNESS racing's equivalent of Whobegotyou - buzz pacer Auckland Reactor - stretched his unbeaten record to 12 races in New Zealand yesterday.
It was a crunch race for Auckland Reactor at Ashburton, given he was first-up since a mystery back ailment forced him to the spelling paddock in May.
The week before his setback a largely US-based syndicate paid an Australasian record of $3.2 million to buy Auckland Reactor from his Kiwi owners.
Trainer-driver Mark Purdon, one of NZ's most decorated horseman, has said Auckland Reactor was the best horse he had trained.
Purdon opted for a restricted-class race rather than yesterday's star-studded Ashburton Flying Stakes for Auckland Reactor's return, but the nuggety entire still stole the show.
Auckland Reactor had a stirring battle with star mare Nearea Franco in the home straight until drawing clear in the last 80m to win by almost two lengths.
The four-year-old's sectional times were unprecedented. Auckland Reactor was clocked to run his last 800m in 54.2sec, including a 25.6 final 400m.
Purdon has to decide whether to pay a $13,500 late-entry fee to start Auckland Reactor in the New Zealand Cup on November 11.
His first Australian target will be the Miracle Mile at Harold Park on November 28, followed by the Victoria Cup at Moonee Valley on December 20.
Classy stayer Baileys Dream impressed, beating big guns Changeover and Monkey King in a hotly contested Ashburton Flying Stakes yesterday.
The other star was Stig, who made it two wins from as many starts back from a one-year injury with an impressive victory in the Trotters' Mile.
Courtesy of the Herald Sun
Auckland Reactor paces remarkable fractions
Auckland Reactor was privately timed post to post by senior bloodstock agent Paul Davies to pace his closing 800 metres in a blistering 53.5 sec in his successful return to racing at Ashburton today Monday 27 October.
In the process the son of Mach Three had to stalk the exceptional front running mare Nearea Franco who had rocketed away to a handy lead early when Auckland Reactor lost at least five lengths but soon settled handy four back in Indian file.
Auckland Reactor rolled around the outer to attend the mare without a trail or cover and beat her comfortably by a length and a quarter.
Purdon flicked the reins over the champion's rump on two occasions in the run home. He took the whip out of the dust sheet near the 200 metres, thought about tapping his star with it, but refrained.
The awesome like power of his success was so true to type but the break at the start was naturally a worry to Purdon who will speak with the owners over the next 24 hours about the wisdom or otherwise of pursuing a NZ Cup start.
Auckland Reactor was credited with an official time of 3:02.9 for the 2400 metres stand, a mile rate of 2:02.7, the leaders' home in 54.2 (Nearea Franco at 800) and 25.6.
To watch a National TV3 video of Auckland Reactor's return to racing click here.
Auckland Reactor's return to racing after an enforced layoff of six months was a promotional draw card today. Children were quick to snap up Auckland Reactor posters on course.
The menacing manner with which Auckland Reactor improved to have Nearea Franco at least in his sights at the 400 was ominous and he did not have to pull out all the stops to gradually master her.
It must be taken into the equation that runner up Nearea Franco is an outstanding mare, arguably the best in the country if Bachelorette (fourth behind her today) can be bracketed with her in that exalted slot.
Steven Reid, an intellectual and no nonsense trainer if ever there was one, said he would not be disappointed if Auckland Reactor did not contest the Cup.
He clearly hinted however that Auckland Reactor would be the one his distinguished pair of Baileys Dream and Monkey King would have to beat if he did start in the $1.2 million NZ Cup.
Robert Dunn, who prepared Mainland Banner to win the Cup at four after she had started racing only 11 months earlier, said recently of Auckland Reactor: "If he starts in the Cup and I am picking he might now, then I think he can win it.''
"my guess is he will"
Reactor favourite for NZ Cup, despite not in
Harness racing's "four million dollar man" Auckland Reactor continues to make good progress in his comeback from a crook back, with a winning performance at Addington raceway this afternoon.
But it is still uncertain if the star four-year-old will make it to the same track for the $1.2 million New Zealand Cup next month.
It was trials day in Christchurch and there was only a small crowd on hand - but for harness racing fans any appearance of Auckland Reactor on track at this time of the year is significant, with the New Zealand Cup only 20 days away.
When asked if it was a concern the horse was once again a slow starter, trainer Mark Purdon said: “he was a bit rocky for a few strides but by three quarter pace he was right”.
Purdon drove the star pacer to the lead at the 1000, going on to win the trial without too much exertion.
Undefeated in all eleven of his race day starts, Auckland Reactor was sold for a record $4 million dollars to American interests this year, only to be struck down by a back injury in May.
Despite not even being nominated for the cup at this stage, he is still the $2.50 favourite on the "fixed odds" market.
The horse's first race since April will be on Labour Monday.
“We would want to win well in Ashburton and stand up and step away cleanly.”
Decisions will then be made on whether the owners fork out the $15,000 late nomination fee for the cup.
If they do it will be the first time that has happened in the race's 105-year history.
Then again, the winner's cheque is worth $650,000.
Reactors trial win takes him step closer to NZ Cup
This is the copy of an article by Michael Guerin that appeared in the NZ Herald on the 23rd of Oct. 2008
The New Zealand Trotting Cup market became murkier yesterday without a lead-up race even being run.
Shock favourite Auckland Reactor took another step closer to earning his place in the $1.2 million classic on November 11 when he won his second comeback trial at Addington.
But the horses who had dominated the Cup market before Auckland Reactor entered the frame both suffered slight setbacks before their next lead-up race.
Changeover and Monkey King were set to dominate Cup betting until it became public knowledge Auckland Reactor could sneak into the Cup if his campaign goes to plan in the next two weeks.
Now any serious punter wouldn't consider betting into the fixed-odds market because nobody really knows if the best pacer in the country is going to be there or not.
And to make matters more confusing, both Changeover and Monkey King will start from the second line in Monday's $75,000 Ashburton Flying Stakes.
Monkey King always had to draw there because he is unruly but the massive field means he will need a miracle to win.
And Changeover's connections may have to revisit how they approach the race after he drew second from the outside of the second line.
If Changeover had gone to Ashburton, stepped to the lead and won he would have been the clear second favourite for the New Zealand Cup and the one to beat if the Auckland Reactor challenge falls short. Now he could well finish out of the money at Ashburton, drift to around $5 for the Cup and punters would be left with a vastly different market than the one they saw 10 days ago.
The one thing certain after yesterday's events is that Auckland Reactor's trainer Mark Purdon is happy with his star - but not his standing start manners.
Auckland Reactor galloped away for the second time in as many trials before racing clear of vastly inferior opponents.
He covered the 2600m, off a 30m handicap, in a sedate 3:26.2, although he was able to power over his last 1600m in 1:57.5, the final 800m in 57.5.
"It was a good run and about as fast as I wanted to go," said Purdon. "But I'd like him to step away better."
Purdon says he will wait until Auckland Reactor resumes in a six-win race at Ashburton on Monday before confirming he will start in the Kaikoura Cup a week later.
More and more it is looking like he will need to win that race to convince Purdon and his connections to make the $12,500 late payment into the Cup.
They have until November 4 - a week out from the big race - to make the payment.
While some punters are warming to the $2.50 price in the fixed-odds market, he still needs to win two races before he is nominated.
So if, even conservatively, you expect him to pay $1.15 on Monday and $1.60 should he win the Kaikoura Cup, and then at least $2 in the New Zealand Cup, backing him to win all three races would return at least $3.68 for every $1 invested.
Anyone taking $2.50 for the Cup needs to learn basic mathematics.
His reappearance at Ashburton on Monday, his first race since a mystery illness in May, will overshadow two other great races.
The Flying Stakes sees Tribute, Baileys Dream, Ohoka Rebel and Waipawa Lad up against Changeover and Monkey King.
Trotters' Flying Mile favourite Stig faces a second line draw against Mountbatten and dual Harness Jewels winner Springbank Richard.
Auckland Reactor Comeback on One News (NZ)
Look who's come back to play
This is the copy of an article by Michael Guerin that appeared in the NZ Herald on the 12th of September 2008
Freakish pacer Auckland Reactor could join the open class ranks just days after the New Zealand Cup.
But trainer Mark Purdon says the great race itself may come a week too soon for the unbeaten superstar.
In a shock revelation to the Herald, Purdon has admitted Auckland Reactor could take on the likes of Changeover and Monkey King in the New Zealand Free-For-All on November 14 - just three days after the New Zealand Cup.
And that would open the door for Auckland Reactor to be invited to the Miracle Mile in Sydney two weeks later, rapidly accelerating his move on to the Grand Circuit stage.
The news will stun rival trainers who had not expected to have to deal with the much-hyped 4-year-old until Christmas at the earliest.
Auckland Reactor produced a string of staggering performances last season which catapulted him from an unknown to Horse of the Year.
He won the Sires' Stakes Final, New Zealand Derby, paced the fastest official last 800m in New Zealand and was sold for around $3.6 million.
But he suffered a mystery back complaint just days before the Harness Jewels at Cambridge and was forced to spend much of the winter confined to a stable. That convinced Purdon Auckland Reactor would not be back racing until Christmas but his improvement in the last month has been so dramatic the great trainer has had to reassess his plans.
"He did so much walking over the winter he looked superb when I got back from my trip to the States.
"That was a month ago and I was thrilled to think then he would be back racing at Christmas. But since then he has got better and better and right now I have a race at Ashburton pencilled in for him." That is October 27, when most of the best pacers will do battle in the Flying Stakes, but Auckland Reactor could start in a class six and faster race instead.
"If he goes there he will probably race during Cup week, maybe in the junior free-for-all and possibly the main free-for-all."
But Purdon says even with his dramatic improvement curve, Auckland Reactor has little chance of making the New Zealand Cup. "It would be too soon to go up against those horses but if something happened to horses like Changeover and Monkey King, then maybe it would become a distant option. But it's not likely."
Purdon knows Auckland Reactor would only have to win any sort of race at the Cup carnival to have Harold Park officials falling over themselves to invite him to the Miracle Mile on November 28.
The Mile is the greatest stallion-making race in Australasia and if Auckland Reactor looks a winning chance, his connections, who bought him for his stallion potential, would have to think seriously about it.
The potential of an Auckland Reactor-Changeover-Monkey King team with support from Awesome Armbro, Baileys Dream and Report For Duty tackling Australia's elite of Blacks A Fake, Divisive, Safari and Smoken Up later in the season will have harness fans drooling.
Champion pacer Auckland Reactor could be back racing next month.
Trainer Mark Purdon (left) is thrilled with the stallion's recovery from a mystery ailment.
Auckland Reactor could take on the open class horses at the New Zealand Cup carnival.
A win there would earn him a Miracle Mile invitation.
Champion Sold In Blockbuster Deal
May 6, 2008
New Zealand's unbeaten three-year-old pacing champion Auckland Reactor, sired by Mach Three, has been sold for $3.5 million (U.S.) to predominantly Canadian interests.
John Curtin, Managing Director of J.C. International, today confirmed the sale (aprox. $4 million NZD), which will see the three-year-old continue his racing career in New Zealand for the foreseeable future, with a move to North America expected in the late spring of 2009.
Unbeaten in 11 starts, Auckland Reactor was purchased by a group of nine owners and breeders, six of whom are from Canada. The group includes Dr. Michael Wilson, Tom Kyron, Bill Loyens, R. Peter Heffering, Doug Millard, Irving Storfer, Jerry Silva (United States), Carol Beneke (United States) and Gary Lyons (Australia).
Auckland Reactor has a remarkable racing resume, already having won the Group One New Zealand Sires Stakes Final and Derby, the Group Two New Zealand Flying Stakes and the Southland Supremacy Stakes. He has earned $328,000 and taken a personal best mark of 1:55.9 for 1950m (1.21 miles).
A leading contender for Three-Year-Old Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year down under, Auckland Reactor has been so dominant in recent starts that he has drawn comparisons with some of the best horses ever to race.
"They're comparing him to Cardigan Bay," said Curtin, "and no horse has ever been compared to Cardigan Bay, and rightly so. If he went to stud today in New Zealand, he'd be jammed up with mares.
"He's one of those horses who has grown in stature each start," said Curtin. "He's improved every race and been very dominant. His last three races have really been the telling point. He's 16 hands – lean and strong – he's quite a big horse."
In his last start – the Southern Supremacy Stakes, a race of 2,700 metres on April 26 in Invercargill – Auckland Reactor turned in one of the most astounding efforts in New Zealand racing history, with a stunning last half mile in 54 seconds flat and a final quarter in :25.9. The finishing fraction, unheard of in Australian and New Zealand racing circles, came more than a mile into the mile and three-quarter event.
"You don't hear of those types of times in New Zealand because we race in jog carts," said Curtin. "Nobody believed it, so they went back and checked the video replay. It was 100 per cent correct."
Trained throughout his career by training partnership of Mark Purdon and Grant Payne, Auckland Reactor was sold by Tony and Anne Parker, who bred the colt.
Purdon and Payne will continue to train Auckland Reactor as he resumes his schedule. According to Curtin, the three-year-old will finish his current campaign with a May 31 engagement in the Harness Jewels at Cambridge. From there, he will rest until an expected October return.
All things going well, Auckland Reactor has 23 races in New Zealand and Australia, worth over $5 million, mapped out in his future. Potential races include the World Pacing Cup, Australian Breeders Crown, the Auckland Cup and the Inter-Dominion Series.
"The ideal situation is following the Inter-Dominion in March of next year, they'll bring him to North America in May for some of the big races at the Meadowlands and Woodbine, before standing stud."
In addition to comparing him to the greats of racing all-time, many are comparing Auckland Reactor to another dominant son of Mach Three – Somebeachsomewhere. Could harness racing have one of the all-time great quinellas in its midst?
Courtesy of Standardbred Canada
Mach Three - Atomic Lass - Soky's Atom
p3, 1:55.9, 1950m; p3, 1:57.2, 2600m (NZ 3yr old record) - $328,100
11 wins from 11 starts, wins incl-
NZ Sires Stake Final 3 yr-old (C&G), Gr1, NZ Derby Gr1
First Sovereign Trust 3 yr-old Flying Stakes, Gr2
Bookies go into meltdown Over Auckland Reactor
This is the copy of an article by Michael Guerin that appeared in the NZ Herald on the 28th of April 2008
TAB bookmakers are bracing themselves for a possible avalanche of money on glamour pacer Auckland Reactor.
The 3-year-old remains on track for Horse of the Year honours after keeping his unbeaten record intact in the $50,000 Southern Supremacy Stakes at Invercargill on Saturday. While he won no easier than expected, Auckland Reactor added another chapter to his unbelievable story when pacing his final 800m, off the front and electronically timed, in 54 seconds.
While pacers have been hand-timed in slightly faster times when coming from back in the field in this country, the effortless 54-second surge is the fastest official last 800m paced in this part of the world.
That added weight to the growing tide of belief that Auckland Reactor – still in his first season of racing – may not be just the best young pacer in the country but close to the best pacer of any age.
He won’t get a chance to prove that any time soon but he looks certain to be at the centre of some massive betting come the Harness Jewels on May 31.
On Saturday, one punter placed $25,000 on him to win at $1.10, collecting $2500 for just over 200 seconds work. It proved once again that punters don’t mind taking the skinniest of odds on top pacers.
And TAB harness bookmaker Steven Richardson knows those sort of punters will be queuing up to support Auckland Reactor in his last race of the season, in the 3-year-old Harness Jewels at Cambridge on May 31.
Auckland Reactor is paying only $1.30 on the fixed odds over a month out from that race but if he draws the front line he could start as short as $1.10. But that won’t deter some of New Zealand’s bravest punters.
“We have found with the harness races in the past, a horse like him or Changeover are the types that attract the really big bets, the $10,000 or more types when they draw well in mobile races,” said Richardson.
If those things fall into place for Auckland Reactor at the Jewels he will not only be the centre of some huge individual bets but the meeting is on a Saturday and will feature fixed odds betting on every race, as well as having a premier galloping meeting at Ellerslie just up the Southern Motorway.
And it is also Super14 rugby final day, with Auckland Reactor just the type of horse to attract sports punters enough to include him in their cross-sport multi bets.
“Horses like him are the ones the gallops punters are happy to have huge bets on fixed odds or in multis because they think they are just certainties and they are probably right,” said Richardson.
So a well-drawn Auckland Reactor as the anchor in possibly tens of thousands of multi bets could be one of the most watched harness horses in New Zealand in years.
Not that that will phase his Rolleston co-trainer and driver Mark Purdon, who is having the greatest season of his career.
He and training partner Grant Payne are 31 wins clear on the premiership and their horses have now amassed $1,813,628 in stakes.
All of which, remarkably, without a group one open class pacing or trotting win.
That total is $180,000 better than Purdon’s previous season’s best and he has the favourites for well over $1 million worth of races to come this season.
Like Auckland Reactor, Purdon looks unstoppable.
'AUCKLAND REACTOR' COULD BE BEST EVER DOWN UNDER
Freelance harness racing writer Garrick Knight ponders the merits of rising superstar Auckland Reactor and the effect he is having on the identity-hungry New Zealand Standardbred industry.
One of the more interesting components of the kiwi psyche is that as a nation we yearn to be accepted internationally.
When a major event happens, like the recent passing of Sir Edmund Hillary or the All Blacks loss at the Rugby World Cup, focus in our media quickly turns to what is being said about us in other countries.
This blatant insecurity perhaps stems from our relative infancy as a nation and the fact we generally are a melting pot society.
As the saying goes, art, or in this case harness racing, represents life.
All too often in this country, we are quick to label a horse a champion.
The tag has gone from a true honour bestowed upon greats like Cardigan Bay, Young Quinn or Lyell Creek to becoming a status symbol associated with the flavour of the season.
A myriad of pacers; Elsu, Christian Cullen, Changeover, Iraklis, Just An Excuse, Mainland Banner and Courage Under Fire have been given the champion’s mantle in the past decade and sentiments are split as to whether they were cast too lightly?
More often than not it was a glorious PR spin to try and impress our neighbours across the ditch in Australia, with whom we fiercely contest anything and everything. About nine months ago a well-connected associate of mine in the racing game told me there was an unraced three-year-old who would be the next champion.
I laughed at him believing it was just another hype horse that had qualified under time and when he told me his name I laughed even harder.
He is called Auckland Reactor, totally nonsensical no matter which way you look at it, but given he has been called past the post first in all ten of his starts; I’m thinking the owners are not too perturbed with the naming anomaly.
Nine months down the track, I, the most cynical racing observer at the best of times, am being made to eat my words at a swift and notably sour rate and realize that perhaps, we may actually have reason to be shouting from the rooftops to anyone who will listen.
This robust, muscular son from the first crop of boom sire Mach Three has taken each and every step in his stride this season, culminating in a demolition job of our best three-year-olds in a national record-breaking New Zealand Derby win last week. The week before over the sprint distance of 1950m, he dispatched the same field by seven lengths without being unleashed in a 1.55.9 mile rate, which in the context of New Zealand racing is like running between 1.48 and 1.49 in North America.
The most discerning horsemen have stood up and taken notice, anyone you ask willing to put their neck out and say he is potentially the best horse our country has produced.
They said that about Christian Cullen initially, who had an unparalleled, withering sprint, but was cut down in his prime but injury.
They also said it about Courage Under Fire, who won his first 24 starts, including 16 and an incredible six Derbies across Australasia at three.
He didn’t go on with it at four and five and now he, along with Christian Cullen is making his mark as a sire son of In The Pocket.
Christian Cullen actually holds the record for the highest price sale of a Standardbred in New Zealand after half a share in him was sold for $900,000 at the end of his racing career, valuing him at $1.8 million.
Auckland Reactor’s owners, a humble rural vet and his wife, have already turned down $2.5 million for their star, and rumours are rife that it will take a lot more money to buy the horse.
He is in the stable of New Zealand’s most accomplished horseman Mark Purdon, who is a tale in himself after being ousted on drug offences four years ago when on top of the racing world.
Medicine, and time on the sidelines, well and truly taken, he has re-earned the trust and respect of his peers by letting his results do the talking and Auckland Reactor has quickly returned him to the heights of greatness he reached in the decade to 2005.
Purdon epitomises the humble man and is rarely on drawn comparing the countless stars he has trained and driven in a 20-year career.
So it came as a shock to everyone when, after the Derby win, Purdon not only proclaimed the horse a champion but very likely the best horse he has been associated with.
He’s not the only one.
“One of the best I’ve seen. What else can you say? It’s all there,” says Robert Cameron, a highly respected senior statesmen of the game who himself handled six Derby winners.
Bob McArdle, co-owner and founder of Nevele R Stud, believes the horse has everything in his favour to reach the summit.
“It is very hard comparing great three-year-olds under our conditions but he is an incredible horse.
“Compared to Christian Cullen, who was an arrogant horse who knew he was great, this horse is a ‘Plain Jane’.
“But when you look at the clock, you shake your head. He’s all class.
“Any sensible person involved in the industry has got to be looking at him as a potential stallion because he is as good a colonial stallion prospect as there has been for a long, long time.”
Already he is being compared to fellow unbeaten Mach Three colt Somebeachsomewhere and some are calling for the two to meet to see who the new prodigal son is.
It would have to be in North America, and probably under the ownership of one of the many breeding farms making offers for Auckland Reactor, but it is a distinct possibility.
The colt is only the ‘crest of the wave’ in New Zealand for Mach Three, who is second on the three-year-old sires list behind Christian Cullen.
Mach Three has the top two spots on the individual three-year-old ladder, with fellow Purdon-trained runner Fiery Falcon in second spot after winning the Great Northern Derby.
Mach Three has had his stud fee raised to $12,500 for the coming season, third only to Christian Cullen ($25,000) and the imported semen of Rocknroll Hanover ($16,000).
Atomic Lass, the Soky’s Atom daughter who left Auckland Reactor, holds the distinction of leaving three Derby runners in her time, a rare feat for any mare and one which goes a way to dispelling the belief of some purists that the colt may be too weak on his dam’s side to be a siring success.
The bottom line is that the two aforementioned horses being used as his yardstick were in the same boat, if not a smaller one.
Christian Cullen’s mother is a Bo Scots Blue Chip mare who won three races from 40 starts and had left nothing before he came along and Courage Under Fire’s mother was a one-win Vance Hanover mare.
So there you have it, the new star of New Zealand racing explained and dissected. The buoyancy surrounding him his like nothing else before and, just like the All Blacks, it could be a tragedy of cataclysmic proportions if he does not deliver at four and five and give us something to thrust upon our international counterparts.
What we do know is that he is unbeaten through ten, is about to become the most expensive Standardbred in New Zealand history and has made the best minds in the game go weak at the knees. That’s good enough for me.
Acknowledgement to all writers and photography on this post. Watch the video:
Auckland Reactor Website