Mark Purdon is congratulated by Addington's Barry Dent after winning with Bettor Trix. Photo: Race Images.
Twelve-time New Zealand training premiership winner Mark Purdon had achieved just about everything imaginable in harness racing.
But at Addington on a moderate Thursday card this evening, he hit another career milestone, joining his father, Roy, and brother, Barry, as the only trainers to have accumulated 2000 training wins in New Zealand.
“It was a real thrill,” Mark said after guiding Bettor Trix to victory.
He co-races Bettor Trix with Vi Hancock, wife of Inter Dominion kingpin trainer, Sydney’s Brian Hancock.
“Both Roy and Barry would be thrilled, too,” he said.
Roy and Barry Purdon won 17 premierships in partnership from 1978 until 1995.
Barry then won two premierships on his own account, while Roy earlier won four on his own account, the first in 1971.
Mark, now 53, has a laugh when asked whether he has any immediate thoughts of slowing down.
“Yes, I do have thoughts of taking things a bit easier. Maybe, in two years, when I turn 55 things might change as I would like to think my sons Nathan and Michael could carry on and do a bit more,” he said.
He has dominated the sport in this country for most of the new millennium, and latterly also in Australia.
Of the 2000 wins, 908 came on a solo basis, 558 in partnership with Grant Payne from 2007-12 and, latterly, 534 with Rasmussen since mid-2013.
As far as a career highlight, Purdon can’t single out any one feat as being bigger than the others.
“You always focus on the most recent because they are the most vivid in your memory, but I’ve been so lucky to have had so many top horses further back like Pride Of Petite (dual 1996-97 Inter Dominion Trot champ), Il Vicolo (dual 1995/96 NZ Cup winner) and Young Rufus (2002 Auckland Cup winner).
“There are so many.”
He is currently riding the crest of a wave with training partner Natalie Rasmussen with reigning NZ Harness Horse Of The Year, Lazarus.
A 10-length winner of last year’s New Zealand Cup in record time, Lazarus again leads at least four leading hopes from the stable for this year’s $800,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup on November 14.
The landmark in came after Purdon eased Bettor Trix to take a one-out trail over the last 1200m behind stablemate Major Hippie.
She raced clear to win comfortably in a quick 1:56.6 mile-rate (1950m), while Major Hippie tired to run ninth.
Bettor Trix is now unbeaten in two race starts and is eligible for the upcoming Alabar Sires Stakes 3YO Fillies Series.
The All Stars stable were also to the fore in the only other race they had starters in on Thursday.
They ran the quinella with two three-year-old debutantes, Tennyson Bromac and Ohanzee, in a maiden event.
This time it was Natalie Rasmussen to the fore as the winning driver with Tennyson Bromac, a colt by Bettor's Delight getting the decision.
Tennyson Bromac pressed to the front with a lap to run, taking over from stablemate Ohanzee, driven by Purdon.
The pair had the finish to themselves with Tennyson Bromac holding by a head in a 1:58 rate (1950m), with favourite Bright Diamond, who led early, then eased three back for trainer Gavin Smith, finishing on for third.
"They both haven't done a lot yet," said Purdon.
"They wouldn't be up with our top three-year-olds like Spankem and The Devils Own but it was only their first starts so they could get a bit better."