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From Maiden to Group Two winner inside a month, Pendragon (3 g U S Navy Flag – Kerre, by Pour Moi) won the $225,000 Shaw’s Wire Ropes Auckland Guineas (Gr. 2, 1400m) on Boxing Day at Pukekohe.

Having capped good juvenile form with a strong second-up victory in the Maiden 1200 metres on 29 November at Te Aroha, Pendragon then stepped up with aplomb to beat home Gold Trail Stakes (Gr. 3, 1200m) winner Quintessa (Shamus Award) and the Champion Two-Year-Old from last season Tokyo Tycoon (Satono Aladdin) in the Wentwood Grange 3YO 1200 metres on Waikato Cup Day (16 Dec.) at Te Rapa.

Pendragon had pleased co-trainer Pam Gerard in the interim, when saying: “Stretching out to 1400 metres, he’s been going super, absolutely magnificent, and high in confidence after consecutive wins.

“He’s drawn out (10), but we won’t be changing his racing style of going forward. He’s jumping out of his skin and full of himself.”

Ridden again by apprentice Niranjan Parmar, Pendragon utilized his gate speed to cross and lead as he wished, travelled at a comfortable tempo, and after quickening to an advantage at the 400m he showed plenty of resolve to stave off the challengers.

Pendragon exacted the last start result from Te Rapa, when beating Quintessa.

“He’s a good horse and has ability,” said Parmar, who has been aboard for each of three wins. “He’s tough and he’s still learning, but he’s going to be a really good horse and I appreciate the support.

“I keep going and riding work for Pam (Gerard), so hopefully she keeps putting me on good horses.”

On footing upgraded to Soft5, Pendragon ran 1400 metres in 1:23.0, last 600m in 34.0 (approx.), and rather incredibly paid $21.80 & $4.90 on the NZ TAB tote.

“He’s been good from the word go, even as a two-year-old, and probably just needed gelding,” Gerard said.

“When they jump and lead like that I’m always nervous, but he got there easily today and hat’s off to Parmar, he seems to get on really well with him.

“He did it to them last time as well, so credit to the horse, and he’s probably gone under the radar a little bit.

“U S Navy Flag is flying, he’s a gorgeous horse to look at and just grown in confidence. He deserves it.

“We’re heading to the mile ($1.5m TAB Karaka Millions 3YO (Restricted Listed, 1600m)). Obviously we buy these horses at the sales with Mike (Moroney) and Paul (Moroney) and want to get them through to the million dollar races.

“He’s stepped up from 1200 metres, but can he step up again to the mile (1600m)? We’ll put him in and find out.”

In attendance at Pukekohe, co-trainer Mike Moroney said: “He’s a pretty classy horse, I think.

“It’s a hard track to lead throughout, especially when the rail is off, and he got the wanders a bit in centre track, so I thought it was a good, gutsy, win from a very good horse.

“He’s got plenty of gate speed and we were trying to take it away from him in early days, but we learnt we couldn’t.

“But we spent the first couple of trials trying to teach him to relax and it wasn’t working, so we let him do his own thing.

“I think he rates himself once he gets to the front, so he doesn’t overdo it, so that’s a big help.

“He’s a lovely sort and he was a quality yearling, too. He’s an outstanding type of horse and he looks in great order.

“Pam’s got the team peaking at the right time, but it’s a Ballymore thing that we usually do to try and have them right at this time of year.

“In other years, this time has been good to us when the weather gets better and the horses have sun on their backs.”

Adding a story, Moroney said: “I actually won this race about 25 years for a good friend of mine, Craig Lindberg, and we lost it in the inquiry room. She (Furama Nights) lost two stakes races in the inquiry room, but she ended up racing against Octagonal later on in life.”

Owned by Dame Sian Elias & Hugh Fletcher, Ned Fletcher & Natalie Walker, Wally Campbell, and Ballymore Stables, and carrying the Fletcher tartan, Pendragon was selected by Paul Moroney Bloodstock and purchased by Ballymore Stables for $110,000 at the Karaka 2022 Book 2 Sale from the draft of Valachi Downs.

Pendragon is from the first New Zealand crop of Champion Two-Year-Old and European Champion 3YO Sprinter U S Navy Flag (War Front), a triple Group One winning sprinter, and Champion New Zealand First Season Sire.

The first foal from Pour Moi (Montjeu) mare Kerre, who placed in Great Britain, Pendragon was a very well balanced and solid individual in every respect from the outset.

Accepting on behalf of the owners, Ned Fletcher said: “I think we had Harlech finish second in this race, but it’s been awhile since we’ve won a big race like this.

“It’s an enormous thrill and we wish to thank everyone involved in his purchase, and he’s grown into a lovely gelding under Pam’s stewardship.

“It’s always wonderful to go along to the stables and see Pam, Mikey (Thompson), and the rest of the team, looking after the horses beautifully.

“This horse seems to be getting better and more and more professional, and a real credit to Pam who has always had a high opinion of him.

“Thank you to the club and sponsor, also to Parmar for the way he rode him and it’s a thrill to win such a great race.”

Pendragon was strapped by Joe Nishizuka.

[26 Dec 23]


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