Merlin (NZ) Primed for Harness Million Challenge

17 February 2023

Merlin (NZ) is out to defend his Harness Million Series title.

A familiar challenge awaits star colt Merlin (NZ) (Art Major) in the $200,000 Listed NZB Standardbred Harness Million Three-Year-Old Colts And Geldings Final (2200m) at Cambridge on Friday night. 

The Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan-trained pacer is one of a stellar line up of 13 NZB Standardbred graduates set down for an enthralling clash in the lucrative feature.

Merlin was purchased by Dean Shannon of Montana Park for $120,000 and was offered by breeder-vendors Taffy Ltd at the 2021 National Yearling Sale in Christchurch.

Merlin has had to call on his brilliant speed and incredible toughness in his outstanding career after being handed a run of tricky barrier draws.

The colt faces another tough alley in barrier 11 in his Harness Million quest, which is far from a new challenge for him.

“He hasn’t had a good draw yet, so it is nothing new for him,” Scott Phelan said.

“A lot will depend on what some of the other horses around him do.

“He has definitely benefitted from his first up run.”

“He’s come through it well and we couldn’t have been happier with him.”

The Purdon-Phelan stable also start Sooner The Bettor (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) in the Harness Million Three-Year-Old Colts And Geldings Final.

The colt was purchased by Barry Purdon Racing Stables for $130,000 from Kufra Farm’s draft at the 2021 Auckland National Yearling Sale.

Sooner The Bettor put together back-to-back wins before chasing fellow NZB Standardbred graduate Son Of Mac (NZ) (American Ideal) home in his last start at Alexandra Park.

The three-year-old has fared much better than his stablemate with his draw in barrier 4.

“He is getting better, his last run was OK, it was a race where you had to be on the rails,” Phelan said.

“He has been improving and we have been happy with his work.

“We will definitely be looking to go forward and settle handy.”

Like Merlin, Son Of Mac has been handed a tough draw in barrier 8.

But the Kyle Marshall trained three-year-old has shown he has the kind of quality needed to overcome during his impressive career.

Son Of Mac heads into the Harness Million Three-Year-Old Colts And Geldings Final after impressing in his return to racing at Alexandra Park recently.

The three-year-old was purchased by Kyle Marshall for $60,000 from Leanach Lodge’s draft at the 2021 Auckland National Yearling Sale.

The powerful Mark and Nathan Purdon stable also start three quality horses in an incredibly talented field for Friday night’s feature.

With Style (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight), Sherlock (NZ) (Vincent) and Sinbad (NZ) (Downbytheseaside) have all been handed challenging draws but each horse rates a genuine winning threat.

The $200,000 Listed NZB Standardbred Harness Million Three-Year-Old Colts And Geldings Final is set to be contested at 8.10pm at Cambridge Raceway on Friday night.

Barrier Horse Breeding Driver Trainer Breeder Owner Sale Purchaser  Vendor Sibling in 2023 Sale
1 Frankie Major Art Major x Delight Me Maurice McKendry Ray Green Tate Bloodstock Lincoln Farms Bloodstock Ltd 2021 Christchurch Yearling Sale, $60,000 Lincoln Farms Bloodstock Broadfield Lodge  
2 Two Eye See Art Major x Runaway Star Andre Poutama Logan Hollis & Shane Robertson Dancingonmoonlight S M Robertson, Mrs C Aickin, Miss G M Woolston, A G Mason 2021 Christchurch Yearling Sale, $35,000 L Hollis & S Robertson Dancingonmoonlight  
3 SCRATCHED                  
4 Sooner The Bettor Bettor's Delight x Lucky Pocket Scott Phelan Barry Purdon & Scott Phelan C N Radford, W E Radford, Ms D E Richardson Mrs K J Purdon, Montana Park Pty Ltd, R Cole, Mrs C Nausbaum, Mrs M McKay, D J Tonks, B K Parker 2021 Christchurch Yearling Sale, $130,000 Barry Purdon Racing Stables  Kufra Farm  
5 Alta Meteor Art Major x Alchemist James Stormont Steve & Amanda Telfer & Hayden Cullen Alta Breeding Stonewall Stud Ltd 2020 All Age Sale (Gavelhouse), $25,000 Stonewall Stud Alabar (NZ)  Half sister, B.F (Always B Miki x Alchemist) Lot 7
6 Charlie Brown Art Major x Gold Elite John Dunn Robert & Jenna Dunn D G Moore R K Gordon, Mrs A L Gordon 2021 Auckland Yearling Sale, $75,000 Diamond Racing Hollis & Robertson Equine Services  
7 With Style Bettor's Delight x My Style Brent Mangos Mark & Nathan Purdon Studholme Bloodstock F Tong, W R Pengelly 2021 Christchurch Yearling Sale, $200,000 Mrs JL Feiss Studholme Bloodstock  Half brother, Bl.C (Betting Line x My Style) Lot 334
8 Son of Mac American Ideal x Lusty Mac Tony Herlihy Kyle Marshall K H Bowles, Mrs I Bowles, S M Bowles, Mrs M A Bowles B Barnett, L Dixon, D J Rowe, R L Herbert, S M Bowles, K H Bowles, Dr I H MacKay, R D MacKay, T Walker, Lads Go Trotting Syndicate 2021 Auckland Yearling Sale, $60,000 Mr KJ Marshall Leanach Lodge   
9 Sherlock Vincent x After Party Blair Orange Mark & Nathan Purdon Spreydon Lodge  Mrs J L Feiss 2021 Christchurch Yearling Sale, $67,500 Mrs J L Feiss Spreydon Lodge   
10 Lou Baby Sweet Lou x Mach's Excuse Steven Reid Steven Reid & Simon McMullan Dr A R Grierson L C Purdon 2021 Auckland Yearling Sale, $10,000 Mr J Curtin Woodlands Stud (NZ)   
11 Merlin Art Major x Imaginary Bet Zachary Butcher Barry Purdon & Scott Phelan Taffy Limited Montana Park Pty Ltd 2021 Christchurch Yearling Sale, $120,000 Montana Park P/L Broadfield Lodge  
12 Sinbad Downbytheseaside x Panforte Mark Purdon Mark & Nathan Purdon Woodlands Stud (NZ)  Mrs J L Feiss 2020 All Age Sale (Gavelhouse), $26,000 Jean Feiss Woodlands Stud (NZ)  
13 Who's Delight Bettor's Delight x Cullen Who Peter Ferguson Robert & Jenna Dunn G J McKenzie, G W Simon, Mrs M W Simon, T R Barron, A B Clark, Mi A D Neumann, I M Neumann, B W Clarke, G R Evans, J A Slack 2021 Christchurch Yearling Sale, $130,000 Diamond Racing Barron Bloodstock Full brother, B.C (Bettor's Delight x Cullen Who) Lot 247