LEADING New Zealand trainer Mark Purdon has his sights set on next Saturday night’s $50,000 Group Two Petstock Bendigo Pacing Cup.
Purdon will be represented by star pacer Highview Tommy, a surprise 100-1 winner of last year’s Ballarat Pacing Cup over Smoken Up and Sushi Sushi.
Purdon will shoot for a feature Bendigo double with classy trotter Escapee tackling the $30,000 Group Two Maori Mile.
This season in New Zealand Highview Tommy has been placed three times from five starts and at his most recent assignment on New Year’s Eve was beaten under five metres when fifth to Pembrook Benny in the Manukau Summer Cup.
His best performance this campaign was in the Group One New Zealand Trotting Cup (3200m) in November, when he finished a close second to Terror To Love.
“He (Highview Tommy) is a seasoned traveller and I am looking forward to tackling the Cups in Victorian,” Purdon said.
The trainer also spoke glowingly about rising star Escapee.
“This season will make her and we definitely like what Victoria has to offer for her,” Purdon said.
The four-year-old Sundon mare, who won the Group One Northern Trotting Derby in New Zealand in May, has finished runner-up to New Zealand’s best I Can Doosit and Stig in two of New Zealand’s best trot races this season.
Escapee was beaten 1.6 metres by the mighty Stig in the Group Two Trotters Flying Mile on Christmas Eve.
Stig clocked 1:55.2 and Escapee’s time was 1:55.6 for the mile. Stablemate I Can Doosit finished fourth in that race, but a few weeks earlier had Escapee’s measure beating the mare in the Lyell Creek Stakes (2200m) in Auckland.
Tim Butt’s Mah Sish, runner-up to Caribbean Blaster in the Group One Victoria Cup last month, is also expected to race in the Bendigo Pacing Cup.
The Mach Three six-year-old has earned more than $200,000 with top three placings at 20 of 29 starts.
Trainer Paul Rowse has also confirmed that Decorated Jasper will shoot for back-to-back Bendigo Pacing Cup wins.
Decorated Jasper won the Coca-Cola Amatil Cup at his home track at Ballarat on Boxing Day and is engaged in tomorrow’s Group Two Horsham Cup.