Mark Purdon. Photo: Race Images.
Mark Purdon will appeal a suspension handed down by Western Australian stewards last week, but won’t seek a stay of proceedings which would see him able to drive Vincent on Friday night in Auckland.
Purdon was suspended on Friday night for 26 days for a racing incident in the early stages of the Group One Golden Nugget in which he drove the winner, Ultimate Machete.
Less than half an hour after cruising to Inter Dominion glory with champion pacer, Lazarus, Purdon was charged with forcing a horse to cover more ground than is necessary when he pushed Ultimate Machete clear of the markers racing into the first bend.
“I thought it was a smart move at the time,” Purdon lamented on his website.
“But though another horse is not checked, there is a regulation to cover it.”
Purdon was also fined a grand total of $1,000 for comments he made to the stewards during the process with half of that fine suspended.
Purdon is appealing not only the length of the suspension handed down but also the whole conviction in the hope that a reduction would see him free to drive at the Auckland Cup meeting on New Year’s Eve.
As it stands he would not be free to drive until January 6 which allows him to be back in the sulky when Lazarus will compete in the Freemantle and Western Australian Pacing Cups in the middle of the month.
With the legendary horseman temporarily resigned to the stands, the All Stars camp have been forced into playing some musical chairs for racing this Friday night at Alexandra Park.
The stable’s two leading contenders for the Auckland Cup; Vincent and Heaven Rocks will both tackle the Franklin Cup.
Natalie Rasmussen confirmed to NZ Harness News that she would take the reins on last season’s New South Wales and New Zealand Derby winner, Vincent, with Tim Williams taking the drive on the brilliant, but erratic, Heaven Rocks.
“That will be the way we will go for now while we wait and see what transpires with Mark’s appeal,” Rasmussen said.
The stable has 17 runners engaged at Friday night’s premier meeting and Purdon’s absence has meant some plum pick-up drives for others.
Tony Herlihy has been booked to drive last season’s two-year-old of the year, Spankem, who will lock horns with unbeaten stablemate, Chase Auckland in the Alabar 3YO Classic while Dexter Dunn will continue his association with Titan Banner, who is back in the All Stars’ care.
He will join Vincent and Heaven Rocks in a three-pronged attack on the Franklin Cup.