Pentathlon ready for NZ Cup

After missing a start in the Melbourne Cup, the John Wheeler-trained Pentathlon has been taken home to New Zealand for another 3200-metre feature race.

Wheeler decided not to keep the horse in Melbourne after his third in the Group Three Lexus Quality (2500m) at Flemington a fortnight ago, the winner of which sealed a berth in the Melbourne Cup.

The trainer decided to tackle the New Zealand Cup at Riccarton rather than the Listed Sandown Cup (3200m) on Saturday.

“I didn’t want to back him up in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes the week after the Lexus because that would have meant racing him Saturday-Saturday- Saturday and the Sandown Cup was only worth $150,000, $100,000 less than the New Zealand Cup, so we’ve brought him home,” Wheeler told NZ Racing Desk.

“He flew to Auckland and spent two days with Stephen McKee and then he flew to Christchurch.

“He’s travelled brilliantly, hasn’t turned a hair.”

Wheeler said Pentathlon had picked up a bug on the flight to Melbourne.

“I had him right for the Lexus, but he had missed a bit of work and it cost him the win,” he said.

“He peaked with 50 metres to go, but he was still taking ground off the winner.”

Wheeler said Pentathlon would have a break before the Group Three Wellington Cup (3200m) on January 20 but ruled out a Sydney Cup campaign with the 2018 Melbourne Cup the long-range target.

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