Robbie Patterson and jockey Craig Grylls were again to the fore at Riccarton where they combined with Puntura to claim the major prize on Wednesday’s program.
They have proven to be a formidable pairing in recent seasons and joined forces on the middle day of the New Zealand Cup carnival to claim top honours in the Group 3 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m).
“He’s a big horse and it was great to have Craig on him, we gel really well and he’s a great mate of mine. He’s a champion to me,” Patterson said.
While it wasn’t the pre-race plan to go to the front, circumstances dictated Puntura made the running and he revelled in the role to land the biggest prize of his career.
“I never tell Craig to do anything, apart from telling him to get the first round in when we have a winner,” Patterson said.
“He’s a good galloper though, a beautiful big horse and he’s come back from a wind operation.”
Puntura stepped well from the barrier and worked his way to the front before the six-year-old forged clear in the straight.
He comfortably held the challenge of the favourite It’s Business Time at bay with Diss Is Dramatic and Times Ticking next to cross the line.
“The plan wasn’t to be in front, but he began as well as anything and I was looking to slot in when they eased up,” Grylls said.
“I was able to let him stride forward and got a pretty soft lead and once we got passed the 400m mark he was still travelling pretty well.
“He’s been going good races and been a bit unlucky and showed he’s more than capable.”
Patterson and Grylls have now combined for 36 winners and most notably with the now-retired Coventina Bay in the Group 1 New Zealand Stakes (2000m) and the Group 1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m).
Her former stablemate Puntura has been well-travelled during his career, which now includes six domestic wins and complemented by victories in Queensland at the Sunshine Coast (twice) and one at Doomben.
“He’s not a Group One horse so we have to pick around now and see what else we get, he’s an older gelding and done a lot of miles,” Patterson said.