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Fraher brothers celebrate high-Pentane victory

"I read somewhere that if you haven't got a hangover the morning after you've won a Group One race you don't deserve to win it. So I've made sure I deserved it!"

That was NZTBA member Peter Fraher the day after Pentane (Pentire-Tuff One by Prince Raider) won the $600,000 ARC Skycity Auckland Cup G1.

Peter bred and owns Pentane in partnership with his Christchurch-based brother Michael Fraher. Joined by Peter's son Nathan – who named Pentane after the most volatile member of the hydrocarbon family - and Michael's five children and their families, the brothers made sure the 2006 Cup celebrations were undertaken as thoroughly as possible.

The story of Pentane's breeding and background is even more amazing than his barnstorming run for victory at Ellerslie.

Peter, managing director of Abilities, a non-profit organisation which employs people with disabilities, was introduced to racing as a child, on the country racetracks of Canterbury. His father worked for the Bank of New Zealand and managed the cash required by the on-course totes at courses like Rangiora and Motukarara.

Racing attracted a little more of Peter's attention after he saw Serendiper win the 1978 Air New Zealand S. G1. (Now known as the Second Century Stakes, the 2006 running of the race is being sponsored by Paul Makin and Arrowfield Stud, and will be run this Saturday as the Starcraft Stakes.) The horse and the performance made such an impression on Peter that he decided to breed a horse by Serendiper's sire Serenader II, a half-brother to champion New Zealand sire Oncidium.

Three years later, he borrowed a mare called Red Rosa, by Red Jester out of a half-sister to the dam of 1979 Auckland Cup winner Tamboura, from L.R. Grace and sent her to Serenader II. The result was a colt called Prince Raider who won once in 16 starts. This relative lack of success didn't deter Peter, who promptly decided to stand Prince Raider at stud. In four years he served five mares who left a total of three foals, two of them fillies, Tuff One and Rosa Bella. In a story that quite possibly could only happen in New Zealand, these two mares comprise the Frahers' broodmare band, and one of them has now left a Group One winner!

Tuff One didn't race until she was seven years old and showed some ability in training, but was retired after suffering a leg injury. Peter, seeking a stallion who might inject classic speed into a tough, staying pedigree, came upon a brochure advertising Rich Hill Stud's Pentire during a visit to the NZTBA office.

He says, "Pentire was a damn good racehorse who trained on at four and looked likely to leave a good, fast stayer. And that's exactly what we got."

Tuff One has visited Pentire three more times since Pentane was born in 2001, producing another colt, Pentola, placed this season, a filly Penthouse Sweet, who has just returned to pre-training, and a yearling colt.

Pentane's rise to the status of Group One winner seems unusually rapid, but in fact he has demanded considerable patience from his owners and trainer Lance O'Sullivan. The gelding didn't make the racetrack until he was a late autumn three-year-old, in April 2005, winning his debut at Ellerslie and then placing second and fourth at Te Rapa. Some trainers may have pressed on, but Lance recommended putting him aside to grow and mature, and that has proved to be the best possible advice.

Pentane returned to racing in November and has won five of his eight starts this season, including the ARC Dunstan Feeds Championship Final on New Year's Day. With six wins, four seconds and a fourth from eleven career starts, and more than $450,000 in stakes, he's obviously as genuine and gritty as he is talented.

Peter Fraher expresses warm gratitude for his trainer's skills. "Lance works so hard, he's an absolute professional and makes sure nothing is left to chance. Like us, his first question is always 'What's best for the horse?'

"Pentane is a gross horse, and hard to get fit, so he's been walked every afternoon. And in the last 100 metres of the Cup he needed all of that fitness."

Pentane now goes for a well-earned spell, leaving Peter and Michael Fraher to celebrate and cherish his magnificent fulfilment of their 28-year-old dream.

We acknowledge as always Arion Pedigrees for pedigree, performance and statistical data.


- Susan Archer