Enigmatic three-year-old Pendragon demonstrated just how tough he is as he took out the Gr.2 Shaw’s Wire Ropes Auckland Guineas (1400m) at Pukekohe with a strong front-running performance.
The Mike Moroney and Pam Gerard-trained son of U S Navy Flag was ignored by punters to start at the juicy odds of $26 in the race, despite having beaten two of his more fancied rivals in Tokyo Tycoon ($3.60) and Quintessa ($4.80) by nearly two lengths at his previous start over 1200m at Te Rapa.
Seeking a hat-trick of victories after breaking maidens at Te Aroha in late November, regular rider Niranjan Parmar adopted familiar tactics as Pendragon began well and dictated terms throughout.
Rounding the home bend the pair drifted to the middle of the track in search of better footing on the Soft5 rated surface, but in doing so Pendragon began to race erratically as he was challenged by Quintessa on his inner and Tossuforit and Luberon further out.
Parmar used all his skill to keep his mount on a straight course as Pendragon fought like a tiger to down Quintessa by a long head with two lengths back to Luberon who shaded Tossuforit for third.
“He has been good right from the word go although he probably needed gelding as a two-year-old,” Gerard said.
“When they jump and lead like that I’m always nervous but he got there very easily today.
“He has run around a little bit in the straight but hats off to Parmar as he gets on really well with him.
“He did it to them last week and credit to the horse as he has gone under the radar a little bit.
“He is just a gorgeous horse to look at, he is flying and he deserves it.”
Gerard confirmed the horse would now head to the $1.5million TAB Karaka Millions 3YO (1600m) at Ellerslie on 27 January where he sits at $10 in the TAB Fixed Odds market.
“We have been heading to the mile as we buy these horses at the sales (Karaka) and we want to get them to the $1million races,” she said.
“He has stepped up from 1200m and now we will see if he can step up to the mile where we will put him in and find out.”
Purchased for $110,000 by Paul Moroney Bloodstock and Ballymore Stables from the Valachi Downs Book 2 draft at Karaka in 2022, Pendragon hails from an extended family that features a number of European stakes winners including Gr.1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) winner Solemia.
He has now won three of his six starts and more than $182,000 in prizemoney.
He becomes the first Group winner and fourth individual stakes winner for The Oaks Stud stallion U S Navy Flag who will have 16 individuals on offer during the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale at Karaka next month including a half-brother to Pendragon by Time Test as Lot 790 from the Leanach Lodge draft during the Book 2 session. - LOVERACING.NZ News Desk