Auckland Cup on agenda

Cambridge stayer Petergabriel took a step closer to the Stella Artois Auckland Cup when winning at Te Teko today, but it’s not this year’s 3200-metre Ellerslie feature.

Though Petergabriel has been nominated for the Stella Artois Auckland Cup on March 7, trainer Yves Seguin (pictured) believes he is running out of time to have the son of Senor Pete ready for the task.

“This year’s Auckland Cup will come around too soon,” said Seguin. “Besides he’s still got a bit to learn. Even though he is five, he is still green. He needs to get a bit tougher.”

Petergabriel tracked the leader Lozada in today’s Putauaki Trust Whakatane Cup (2100m) and kicked best over the final stages to grab the honours by a short neck from Lozada.

Petergabriel was ridden by promising Cambridge apprentice Alex Forbes, whose father, Graeme, was on hand to witness the youngster’s first “Cup” win.

With 22 starts under his belt, Petergabrielhas has now won three times and been placed on a further 13 occasions. “He’s run eight seconds and a lot of the time he has just been beaten,” said Seguin, whose wife, Barbara, owns the improving stayer.“Even when he wins, he doesn’t win by much. That’s just him.”

Meanwhile Paul Duncan’s run continued at Te Teko today when Pin Etoile cleared maiden ranks in the Ocean Ford Whakatane Fillies and Mares 1400.

The Cambridge trainer celebrated his third Group One success when Say No More won the Harcourt’s Thorndon Mile at Trentham last Saturday. And it was also on the Trentham track that Duncan has landed his other two Group One wins, the first being the Wellington Cup with Oarsman and the other, the NZ Oaks last year with Midnight Oil.

Oarsman was ridden to his Wellington Cup triumph by Gary Grylls, whose son Craig was aboard Pin Etoile today.

Pin Etoile is in her last season of racing as she is in foal to Red Giant. The win came at her eighth start and followed one previous placing, a second at Matamata last December.

Grylls was full of praise over Pin Etoile’s performance. “We were caught three-wide so it was a good effort from out there,” he said. “It actually turned out alright in the end because it got a bit tight inside.”