Harness - News

First training winner for Michael Purdon

  • Sun, 27 May 2018
  • Garrick Knight
Cullens Joy and connections after her Addington win. Trainer Michael Purdon is third from right. Photo: Race Images.

Cullens Joy and connections after her Addington win. Trainer Michael Purdon is third from right. Photo: Race Images.

The next name in the great Purdon dynasty was added to the winners’ list at Addington on Saturday night.

Michael Purdon, son of Mark, grandson of Roy and nephew of Barry, produced Cullens Joy to win impressively in a junior drivers’ event.

“It was a bloody big thrill,” said the third-generation trainer after the win.

His brother Nathan did the driving and they race the daughter of Gotta Go Cullen with their mum, Vicky, and girlfriends, Mikayla Lewis (Nathan) and Alison Ward (Michael).

The group only acquired the mare from retiring Rolleston trainer Ivan Court last month after a chance drive behind her by Michael.

“I keep my horses at Grant Payne’s and Ivan used to bring her around to fast work some times.

“One day he asked me if I could drive her behind the galloping pacemaker and I didn’t mind her.

“Once he said she was up for sale, I jumped at the opportunity.”

Both Michael and Nathan are making the permanent move to Auckland next month where they will link up with their uncle, Barry, in Clevedon.

Cullens Joy wasn’t part of those plans, but she’s forced their hand.

“Originally, I thought she’d be a good ‘flip’ job, but she’s come up that nicely I’ve decided to take her north when we go.

“I think I’ll aim her for the Uncut Jewels race there later next month.”

With a name like Purdon, you’d think Michael was destined from day dot to be a horseman.

But the part-time trainer/part-time farrier had no desire to follow the rest of his family in to harness racing until he started working for his father out of necessity.

“I actually had no interest in harness racing and it wasn’t until I was looking for a job and dad said he needed staff that I even got involved.

“He took me to Melbourne for a trip one summer and we had a good bunch there – Auckland Reactor, I Can Doosit, Highview Tommy – and I just loved it.

“I’ve carried on with it ever since.”

Like his brother, Michael spent plenty of time in Australia honing his craft, including a year with Anton Golino at Yabby Dam Farms honing his farrier skills.

“Dad pushed me towards it a wee bit.

“Because I had no interest in driving, and he said there wasn’t quite enough money in training, he suggested I learn how to shoe.

“I’ve learnt so much, especially from Anton – he was great to work for and has a lot of knowledge.”

Cullens Joy will be one of three horses Purdon brings north, the others being promising juvenile Major Trojan, who is on his way back from injury, and a yearling that needs further attention.

“Nathan will shift up there on June 4 with the horses and I’ll arrive about a week later.”