Horse racing: Kiwi harness racing great Mark Purdon turns talents to thoroughbreds

  • 29/09/2023

Champion harness racer Mark Purdon has trained more than 2,500 winners. But this weekend, he's hoping for a first victory in another racing code.

Purdon is having a crack at thoroughbred racing after establishing a stable of four gallopers.  

Purdon's used to being in the sulky but now he's keeping a close eye on his debut galloper - promising two-year-old colt Captain Roy.

"It's always been a passion and I've always wanted to have a go," Purdon told Newshub. 

Australasia's most successful harness trainer will make his thoroughbred debut at Riccarton on Saturday. 

Known as just 'Roy' at the stable, the Savabeel colt is named after Purdon's late father - a trainer of over 2000 winners himself.  

A $200,000 purchase at the Karaka yearling sales, Purdon owns Roy in a partnership with his three siblings.

"He is a special horse to us sentimentally," he admitted. "So far, so good with him. I've been pleased with his progress and it'll be interesting on Saturday."

There's another nod to Purdon's roots in the use of All Star Stables' colours that have become synonymous with dominance in harness racing. 

On Saturday, they'll be also donned by jockey Kin Kwo whose been helping Purdon with day-to-day operations.

The cross-code method of training is also a first for him.  

"They're still pretty well behaved," Kwo said. "They don't run the cart over.

"I was a bit worried when I first started but now I'm pretty confident with him." 

 If Purdon can achieve even a fraction of his harness racing success, there's sure to be plenty of winners to come.

"I've really enjoyed the challenge and the journey with them so far, and I'm just hoping one of them's a fair nice horse."