By Matt Markham for Harnessed Media
Photo courtesy of Race Images
Vicki Purdon is keeping realistic about the sale of the horse who shot her back into the harness racing limelight.
News has filtered through this week of the sale to North America of outstanding pacer Christen Me who has struggled to recapture his best form in the past 12 months.
And for Purdon, who co-owned by the 11-time Group One winner with Charlie Roberts, it’s bringing mixed emotions.
“Obviously there is a bit of sadness there that he’s going,” she said.
“But at the same time he has given myself, Paul and Mary Kenny and Charlie Roberts a wonderful ride for such a long time too. So I’m also excited about the next chapter for him and hope that he goes over there and does a great job.”
The news was a bit of a bolt from the blue for the industry with Dalgety suggesting that next month’s Easter Cup could potentially be the pacer’s last start.
But the wheels have obviously gained motion quickly and the sale is now official.
Despite some word about that they would retain a share in the gelding, Purdon confirmed that wasn’t going to be the case.
“We have decided not to keep a share in him, so he’s completely sold.”
That also negates the opportunity for Christen Me to return to New Zealand following the completion of his racing days in North America with the decision on what happens post-career ultimately up to his new owners.
Christen Me leaves New Zealand as one of the greats of the past decade.
After beginning his career with Mark Purdon and Grant Payne he found his way into the Cran Dalgety stable and would win his first eight starts in Kentuckianna Lodge colours.
As a four-year-old, he raced 15 times for 13 wins and two seconds as well as two Australian victories.
He won the Taylor Mile, The Messenger and the Jewels – the latter arguably one of his best performances on Kiwi soil after drawing badly on the second row and working hard the entire trip three wide in a 1:51.5 mile.
But it was his five-year-old career that will go down as his greatest.
He won the Hunter Cup, sitting parked, over a distance that many said he couldn’t handle and then returned to the following year to add to Miracle Mile, sitting outside Beautide, and the Victoria Cup to the mantle.
“That would have to be the highlight for me,” Purdon said.
“Winning those big races over there, especially the Hunter Cup after everyone kept telling me he couldn’t go the distance.
“Just having him at the races was great though, we had some wonderful times.”
In 68 starts down under, Christen Me won 32 races, placed 21 times and won close to $2.5 million in earnings.
Now he gets the chance to revitalise himself in America and hopefully recapture some of that form that made his almost invincible here.