By Michael Guerin
Two facts give co-trainer Nathan Purdon comfort heading into the Sires’ Stakes Final with Krug on Tuesday.
One is Krug’s big race record. The other is his sire. And Purdon, who trains the wonderful three-year-old in partnership with Chrissie Dalgety, hopes the second factor helps Krug add to the first.
While nobody doubts Krug is the best three-year-old in the country he faces possibly his greatest career challenge on Tuesday, facing a second line draw and coming off a last-start defeat in a heat of this series at Ashburton.
And that complicated matters heading into the Cup trials on Wednesday when he was a touch below his best only finishing fifth after racing parked in the heat won by Amazing Dream.
Purdon drove Krug himself because he wasn’t totally happy with how Krug traveled when beaten by American Dealer and It’s All About Faith at Ashburton and he was hardly beaming after Wednesday’s trial either.
“He hung on the bend at Ashburton but he also wasn’treally screwed down fitness-wise because it has been such a busy spring,” explains Purdon.
“But I still wasn’t happy with the way he traveled so I took the pole off him for the trial on Wednesday and put a rein burr on him but he hung in again on the last bend.”
Purdon says more importantly Krug blew badly after the trial suggesting being easy on the colt had seen him left well short of peak fitness.
“We have had to be easy on him a bit because these horses have been so busy,” admits Purdon.
“Ideally after he got home from Auckland (late September) we would have given him a spell but with the three-year-old series starting straight away we couldn’t.
“So we eased off him and now we have to bring him back up and that means working him every day between now and the final,” Purdon said late Wednesday night.
That is a little akin to what he did with Krug after he was beaten by American Dealer in the Sales Series Pace at Alexandra Park in September, and he came out the next week and blew Its All About Faith away in the two-year-old Sires’ Stakes Final.
“That is where that Bettors Delight breeding really helps, when you have to get into them to reach peak fitness and to see how they handle that.”
The big difference between Krug’s previous major wins and what he faces on Tuesday is that he will has won almost all of his races when able to get to the marker pegs in front or trailing and that looks very unlikely on Tuesday.
He has drawn two on the second line over the 1980m, with It’s All About Faith likely to lead from the ace.
A roughie might drop three back the fence and try for luck but that isn’t really an option for a horse like Krug so he is likely to have to move at some stage, as is American Dealer who has also drawn the second line.
While that pair are working at some stage Purdon believes It’s All About Faith could well be getting an easy time in front and be awfully hard to catch.
“He is going to get his chance on Tuesday and they all, including our horse, are going to need to go super to catch him.