Puntura claims Group 2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes

Puntura comes over the top of Belclare to reign supreme in the Group 2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Trentham. Photo: Peter Rubery (Race Images Palmerston North)

Puntura showed he will be a force to be reckoned with over the coming months as he scored in dominant fashion in Saturday’s Group 2 Manawatu Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Trentham.

Having his first start since a memorable victory in the Group 3 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton during New Zealand Cup Week, the Robbie Patterson-trained six-year-old was fitted for his first up run with a comfortable win over 1000m at the Foxton trials during the week.

Unlike his Riccarton victory where he led most of the way, this time regular pilot Craig Grylls let the son of Vespa settle near last and remained there until making a wide run approaching the home turn.

With a wall of horses across the track it looked like Belclare would get the victory when she hit the front at the 200m however Grylls had Puntura wound up and finishing powerfully to grab the game mare at the 50m and win drawing away by half a length.

Patterson had expressed plenty of confidence leading into the race and was well satisfied with the result.

“It didn’t pan out the way I had envisaged it although the final result did,” Patterson said.

“He actually did that in the Glasshouse (Listed, 1400m) at the Sunshine Coast during the winter and flashed home then, so we might end up riding him that way.

“He was fantastic today and it is fantastic for the Lynskey’s, who put a lot into the game and he is finally backing things up now as he has come of age.”

Patterson has expressed doubts in the past about the horse’s ability to take the step up to Group One company but is now prepared to take that gamble as he targets the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham next month.

“We are going to have to go to the Thorndon after that,” he said.

“He loves a big roomy track and his work has been enormous so we have to have a go.”

Grylls admitted he had to go to Plan B shortly after the start when he wasn’t anywhere near the lead.

“He lost his back end out of the gates as he slipped and I had to ride him back from there,” he said.

“He was nice and relaxed and travelling that good he was always going to get over the top of them.

“I think he is in career best form and deserves his shot at a Group One.”

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