Roy Purdon, Tony Herlihy, Mark Purdon and Barry Purdon

Roy Purdon, Tony Herlihy, Mark Purdon and Barry Purdon

The Purdon Family - Harness Racing Royalty

It is no secret that the Purdon family have dominated Harness Racing in New Zealand over the past 7 decades - but where did it all start?

Barry's Great-Grandfather, Joe came out from Glasgow in 1922 with wife, 4 Boys & 2 Girls in tow.

They originally settled in Lyttleton and it all started with coal being sold from the Draught Horses and also carrying bags around the streets. But after the depression some of the family moved to Auckland.

In around 1946 one of the boys (Barry's Grandfather, Roy's father) found a old running track in Mt Roskill, where they cut down gorse and got the small track up and running, and started to break in horses.

When Roy was 19 or 20 his Dad, Mum & family moved to Puni, where his Dad purchased a property. And thats when Roy Purdon really came into his own. Roy has been a masterful great trainer and a gentleman throughout. His lovely wife, Margaret was a real lady and a New Zealand golfing representative before she was married. While she continued to play for 50 years she retired from competitive golf when just 24 years old after getting married and committing herself to her family. Margaret passed away in 2015 after a short illness.

Roy Purdon will go down as one of the greatest (if not the very best) harness racing trainers New Zealand has ever produced. In 1988 Roy was awarded an MBE. Among many other awards he was also made a life member of the Auckland Trotting Club.
He has trained more winners and won more training premierships (21 between 1970 and 1995) than any other horseman.
He saw his first New Zealand Cup at Addington Raceway in 1937. Forty years later he trained the first of his four New Zealand Cup winners when Peter Wolfenden saluted the judge with Sole Command.

The others were Luxury Liner (1988), Christopher Vance (1991) and Chokin (1993).

Mr Purdon is of course the father of top New Zealand trainers Barry and Mark, and father-in-law of New Zealand's leading driver, Tony Herlihy (MNZM) - who married his daughter Suzanne. His grandson, Mark is also an accomplished trainer in Ontario, Canada.

Barry Purdon Racing Stables History

Barry obviously grew up around horses. At 21 he started training horses in partnership with his father, Roy. Barry and Roy won 17 trainers' premierships between 1978 and 1995, adding to Roy's four earlier ones. His total of 2,021 winners was a New Zealand record, but has since been overtaken by Barry's 2,228 (by mid-2012).

Barry has not only trained many many winning horses, but many famous faces withinNZ harness racing have passed through the stables to learn from the master. These include: Brent Mangos, Brent Lilley, Lee Evison, Cran Dalgety, Scott Phelan, Steve Telfer, Chris Garlic, John Dunn, Ross Houghton, Andre Poutama, Derek Balle, Shane Eeles, Robert Butt, Rachel Wright, Kelly Stuart, Simon Spicer - to name a few.

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