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Grip (3 c Exosphere – Pentolite, by Pentire) looked like a horse with a future when winning the $10,000 Maiden 1600 metres on Saturday at Pukekohe.

A stylish winner despite a wide trip when trialling in August at Te Teko, and sustaining a very good gallop wide on the track for fourth on the same course in September, Grip went to the races having shown natural ability. He finished fifth in a good form race when debuting in the Maiden 3YO 1400 metres on 23 September at Matamata, and given time (38 days) he stepped up to win in progressive fashion.

Allowed to find his feet back in the field, Grip swept up to lead early in the home straight and after drawing clear rider Michael McNab had to keep him interested over the concluding stages.

In the same race, stable-mate The Green Dragon (Rothesay) found the line solidly for fourth under the urgings of Chad Ormsby.

Heavy showers that downgraded the track from Good3 to Dead5 were forecast and something co-trainer Pam Gerard felt would not detract from the performance by Grip.

“He stepped out against older horses and we felt that getting to a mile on a big roomy track and some rain expected by the end of the day could suit,” Gerard said.

“He’s a big boy and looked fantastic going into the race and we expected him to be finding the line strongly. He’s holding his condition and I’d been happy with the way he worked leading into it.

“Michael (McNab) gave him time to settle and I think he was a bit surprised by how fast he got to them and went past in the straight. But, he summed it well in the finish.

“It’s good to get the Maiden win out of the way early. We bought him to be a Derby horse and would like to get to a race like the Levin Classic or Karaka Million 3YO Classic along the way.

“He’s shown us he’s got the ability to relax and he’s got a quick turn of foot. He’s such a laidback character, eats well, and casual in his work, so hopefully those attributes help him stay.

“He showed today he can drop the bit and then sprint to them quite quickly.”

In the race sponsored by Roger Gill Agriculture, Grip ran the 1600 metres in 1:38.4 and shortened his fixed odds: $10.00 & $3.30 to pay $6.30 & $2.00 on the NZ TAB tote.

Owned by Rupert & Cheryl Legh, Wayne Boyd, Mike Danrell, Craig McKay, Jason Roberts, Wally Campbell, and Ballymore Stable NZ, Grip was selected as a yearling by Paul Moroney and purchased for $100,000 at the 2019 Karaka Book 1 Sale, from the draft of Bradbury Park.

From a mare by high-quality sire Pentire, his family of hardy gallopers includes Avondale Cup (Gr. 1, 2200m) winner Regal Chief, winner of eight races from 1400m – 2400m, Valley Chief, winner of 13 from 1400m – 2200m, including Hawkes Bay Cup (Gr. 2, 2200m) and Aim for Glory, winner of 11 races from 1200m – 1600m. Grip is also inbred on his dam lines to quality speed sire Biscay (Marscay).

He is from the first crop of Exosphere (Lonhro), a stallion with an incredible sire line that has already sired two stakes winners.

Lonhro (Octagonal) won 26 of his 35 starts (11 Group One), World Champion Miler and Australian Hall of Fame. Just as impressive, his sire, Octagonal (Zabeel), won 10 Group 1 races in a total of 14 and also Australian Hall of Fame. And of course, his sire, Zabeel (Sir Tristram), is the Prince of the ultimate King: Sir Tristram (Sir Ivor).

Exosphere won five of his 10 starts, including the Golden Rose (Gr. 1, 1400m) at Rosehill, and rated higher than Exceed and Excel, Redoute’s Choice, and Fastnet Rock.

“Paul (Moroney) and I both wrote the same thing in our catalogues: ‘Xcellent’,” said Mike Moroney. “Thrown to Pentire, we saw so much of Xcellent in him.

“He’s got plenty of strength and we thought he could develop into a lovely three-year-old. A great walking horse and he took our eye straightaway.”

Grip was strapped by Michael Thompson. 
[31 Oct 20]


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