Exciting three-year-old Pareanui Bay made it three wins from three starts when he took out the Listed Trevor & Corallie Eagle Memorial 3YO (1500m) on Saturday at Te Aroha.
The Tony Pike-trained Lonhro gelding hadn’t been seen since recording a stunning win in the Gr.2 James and Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes (1400m) at Te Rapa last month and was sent out a dominant $1.90 favourite on the strength of that performance and a strong midweek trial.
Rider Michael McNab had the long-striding individual away well from the starting gates and he strode forward to sit outside pacemaker La Crique, who most felt would be the biggest threat to him after her win at Tauranga a fortnight ago.
McNab had Pareanui Bay travelling sweetly on the home bend and he sent him to the lead early in the run home, where he looked set to record a comfortable victory.
That wasn’t the case as Pareanui Bay was inclined to loaf over the concluding stages, looking to go to the line with plenty in hand but only recording a short neck margin over runner-up Flash Mary, with La Crique the same margin away in third.
Pike was delighted with the win and noted a key ingredient was the ability to give the horse a 950m trial on the Cambridge synthetic track on Tuesday to sharpen him up for his race return.
“He hadn’t raced since late October as we couldn’t get him to the 2000 Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m) at Riccarton due to the debacle around the late nominations for the race, so he needed something to fit him for today,” Pike said.
“That trial was perfect and brought him on nicely for the race.
“He did the job we expected today, although each day gets a little bit harder as he is now expected to win.
“He is still green, with plenty of learning to do. He is the type of horse that won’t generally win races by big margins, but he is also the sort that always seems to have something in reserve when you really need it.”
Pike is not sure what path he will now take with the horse but is mulling over several options.
“He drew poorly again today (barrier 8), and Michael had to use him up to get handy,” he said.
“He is not brilliant from the gates and took a few strides to get going today, but thankfully he relaxed nicely once he did get outside the speed.
“It was also his first time going right-handed so that will be another lesson that will be good for him in the long term.
“At the moment we are not too sure where we will go next, as he is being spruiked for the New Zealand Derby (Gr.1, 2400m) at Ellerslie, but I still don’t know if he is a true Derby horse.
“I will have a good chat to Brent and Cherry Taylor, who own him and see what they think before we make any future plans.
“There are two nice three-year-old races at Ellerslie over the Christmas Carnival which I have looked at and then we can firm up where we go after that.
“There is a lot of water to go under the bridge, but a race like the Rosehill Guineas (Gr.1, 2000m) in Sydney during the autumn is a possibility as is the Doncaster Mile (Gr.1, 1600m).
“The three-year-olds have a very good record in the Doncaster as they get in with a light weight and it is a race that I think could really suit him.”
Bred and raced by the Taylors at their Trelawney Stud in Cambridge, Pareanui Bay is out of their Flying Spur mare Okahu Bay who won the Gr.3 South Australian Fillies Classic (2500m) and comes from a family that includes Gr.1 Easter Handicap (1600m) winner Calveen. – NZ Racing Desk