A day that started in perfect fashion for trainer Peter McKay when Purrfect Puss (Sacred Falls x Miss Purrfection) saluted in the second race got even better for the Matamata mentor as Sagunto (O'Reilly x Queen Sabeel) landed his biggest victory with an all-the-way win in the Gr.3 Humphries Construction Manawatu Cup (2300m).
Rated to perfection by Lisa Allpress, the seven-year-old son of O’Reilly never looked like flinching in the run home after setting up a solid speed throughout the 2300m of the contest.
Allpress kept the pressure on as she had Sagunto pinging along at the head of affairs and at the 1000m had five lengths on the chasing pack.
Angled to the centre of the track turning for home, Sagunto kept finding as the challengers appeared and kept up a strong gallop to defeat Subtle Point, Soprano Supreme and Platinum Invador who finished in a line behind him, with just a long head separating the trio.
Stable representative Shaun McKay admitted he felt a pang of jealousy watching the race unfold as he sat on the side-line unable to make the 53kg impost that Sagunto carried.
“It’s a bit different standing on the side-line when I normally ride him, but the 53kgs was too light for me,” McKay said.
“It is outstanding to see him win as he is a horse that normally likes it the firmer the better and when the rain came we didn’t think he could carry on like that.
“He rolled along, put them to it on the corner and won really well.”
The McKay team had felt in the early days of Sagunto’s career that he would make a handy sprinter, but he defied those expectations when tested over more ground.
“We thought he was going to be a very good sprinter earlier on as he was Group placed,” he said.
“The further he went and the older he got the better he has been, so he is really only just coming into his prime now, even though he is seven and we think he is going to be a good Cup horse.”
Bred by Waikato Stud, who also co-bred and own Purrfect Puss along with long-time McKay stable client Trevor Luke, Sagunto has now won seven of his 53 starts and more than $200,000 in prizemoney.
He is the third living foal of stakes winning Savabeel mare, Queen Sabeel and was purchased by McKay and wife Kim for $120,000 out of the Waikato Stud draft during the premier session at the 2017 National Yearling Sale at Karaka.
Peter McKay was also relieved a planned move to test maiden galloper Purrfect Puss on the roomy Trentham track panned out as the Sacred Falls filly displayed an impressive turn of foot in the home straight to claim her first victory at just her fourth start.
“We were a bit worried that it was a strong field, but Shaun has always said to me that she had good ability,” McKay said.
“The wet tracks or the tight turning ones hadn’t worked out for her to start off with but coming down here, with the good straight run, we thought it would suit her and it did.”
Purrfect Puss is the younger half-sister to former top Singapore galloper Kiwi Karma and is closely related to Gr.2 Sir Byrne Hart Stakes (1200m) winner Cheiron. – NZ Racing Desk