Cautious approach with Pentathlon

Former Melbourne Cup runner Pentathlon could be retired. Photo credit: Trish Dunell

The racing future of tough stayer Pentathlon is in doubt after the seven-year-old pulled up a bit scratchy following his sixth-placing in the Egmont Cup (2100m) earlier this month.

The son of Pentire has banked $400,000 in prizemoney and proved competitive in some of Australasia’s feature staying races including placings in the Group 2 Wellington Cup (3200m), Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m), Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m) and Group 3 New Zealand Cup (3200m).

Trainer John Wheeler will take a cautious approach before confirming whether the gelding races on.

“I got him x-rayed after Hawera and he was just a bit scratchy and there are some changes in a fetlock joint,” Wheeler said.

“Within four days he has come right and is working soundly again. I am just marking time with him. I am definitely not going to Melbourne with him and I am definitely not going to the New Zealand Cup.

“I have informed the owners that I will probably retire him, but I haven’t actually done it.

“I would hate for him to break down as he is such a neat horse and he will make someone a great hack.

“It was a reasonably firm track and he probably gave something a bit of a tickle up. He’s got a bit of age on him now, but he’s only had 39 starts. The x-rays showed some changes, so I am just being really cautious.”

Wheeler said he would refrain from turning Pentathlon out for another spell because he is such a good-doing horse.

“He’s the most relaxed horse you would ever see, and he just eats. It takes a long time to get him back to fitness.

“If I turn him out, he’s retired.”

Meanwhile, Wheeler is likely to be represented at the New Zealand Cup carnival by progressive four-year-olds Abacus and Irish Flame.

Abacus romped to a five-length success at Trentham last Saturday over 2200m.

“I wasn’t at all surprised, he had been working well,” Wheeler said.

“He was ridden perfectly by Jason (Waddell) and I will probably take him down for the grade races at Riccarton and see where we go from there.

“I will probably look at the Dunstan Stayers series, but I actually bought him off Murray Baker as a jumper and he is very capable.”

Irish Flame finished runner-up at Trentham over a mile behind Guineas bound three-year- old Sir Nate and will also head south.

“He will go to Christchurch as well for the grade races down there and he is going super,” Wheeler said.

“I think the three-year-old that beat him is pretty smart and he is at 14-1 for the Guineas which is pretty generous. It’s not often that I think the TAB is generous.”