Newcastle 12-time Group 1 winning trainer Paul Perry struck the first blow in the 2021 Polytrack Provincial Championship series when his four-year-old Pandano careered away to win the opening qualifier at Newcastle on Saturday. In an all-Newcastle trained trifecta, Pandano which was backed from $5.50 into a pronounced $3.30 favorite scored by 2.6 lengths from Kris Lees Cristal Breeze ($9.50) with another Lees runner Animate ($9) 3.67 lengths away in third place.
Pandano was bred at Scone’s Arrowfield Stud and the latter’s owner and former Racing NSW Chairman John Messara has a share in the horse with Perry and Steve Gillard, a Sydney businessman. The gelding has won 5 of 14 starts for prizemoney of $261,000.
Perry was not at the Newcastle meeting “Pandano is a fit horse and he was too good for them. I probably won’t run him again before the final, but he might trial. He has matured into a nice horse and is improving all the time,” Perry said.
The Lees pair Cristal Breeze and Animate have also qualified for the $500,000 Provincial Championship Final at Randwick on April 10. Lees foreman Cameren Swan was happy with both horses performances “Cristal Breeze had an incident in the barrier last start, so we were expecting a big improvement. I thought he went really well, and he will be much fitter come final day. Animate hadn’t run since the Gold Coast Magic Millions Carnival six weeks ago so he will improve greatly on today’s run,” Swan said.
Two potential group performers were successful on the day. Randwick trainer John Sargent will set his promising stayer Land Ahoy on an ATC Oaks campaign after the three-year old’s outstanding second up win in the 1600 metre Master Builders Association of NSW Class 1 Handicap. The daughter of former champion stayer Dundeel has only had five starts for two wins. She bolted in with a Scone Maiden on debut in June and she had no luck first up this campaign at Hawkesbury on February 9. The filly raced away in the straight on Saturday to win by 1.86 lengths. It was an all-Kiwi victory as Land Ahoy is owned by New Zealand millionaire Sir Owen Glenn and both trainer Sargent and jockey Alysha Collett both hail from the land of the long white cloud.
The New Zealand bred and owned All Hallows’ Eve trained by John O’Shea, unlucky first up at Gosford recently atoned with an easy 2 lengths victory in the 1200 metre Harvey Norman Commercial Class 1 Handicap. She is really talented and the sky’s the limit for her. Veteran local trainer Charlie Porter was back in the winner’s circle on his home track when Mr Polar outclassed his opponents to win the 900 metre Buildcert Conditional Benchmark 68 Handicap by 2.68 lengths.