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 New Zealand Gallops News 
Wednesday, March 08 2017

John Wheeler won't be at Ellerslie when his talented pair of Pentathlon and Irish Flame shoot for a Group One double on Saturday - but he has a fair excuse.
Pentathlon  - Race Images Palmerston North
Wheeler and his wife Linda are playing tour guides for a trip of a lifetime to watch the world's best jumpers at the Cheltenham Festival in England and the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan.

Rather than a trip of a lifetime, jockey Lisa Allpress, booked to ride the Wheeler pair at Ellerslie, will be happy with a trouble-free, economical trip in running in each of the features.

She rode Pentathlon in the Nathans Memorial (2200m) at Ellerslie last Saturday and was delighted with the Pentire five-year-old's leadup effort ahead of Saturday's Gr.1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m).

"It was a pretty good run considering he carried 60 kilos. I really wanted to stay on the fence but managed to tack on to the back of Chenille and let her drag us into the race," Allpress said.

"With his big weight he couldn't stay with Chenille but it was a good run and dropping back to 55 kilos on Saturday, he should be a big chance.

"He's proven over 3200m. He went massive in the Melbourne Cup and in a couple of leadup races over there. I won the Chalmers [Handicap, 3200m] on him last year and he was close-up in the Wellington and Auckland Cups, so the distance won't be a problem."

Pentathlon is one of the most experienced horses in the field over 3200m, though he has yet to win in seven starts on tracks rated worse than dead.

"He's not as comfortable on a rain-affected track. He was all at sea on a rain-affected track in the Taranaki Cup. Either way, I will just aim to kid to him all the way around and hopefully he can finish it off," Allpress said.

Allpress has also picked up the ride on stablemate Irish Flame for the Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1200m), the Zed gelding looking for a repeat of his last-start win in the Gr.3 Phoenix Park 2YO Classic (1200m) at New Plymouth.

"I rode him in a jumpout on Monday in a heat they ran the reverse way [right-handed]. He jumped really well, settled in the trail and accelerated nicely," Allpress said.

"He hasn't raced right-handed but he's had that jumpout and Wheels has galloped him that way around at home.

"It's a strong race and it's always hard to beat those northern two-year-olds, especially the ones who have had a run around Ellerslie."

Allpress has five rides at Ellerslie on Saturday and was especially looking forward to riding New York Minute first-up in her new preparation.

"She's come up really well. She's had a couple of jumpouts and in both of them she's bounced away and done everything right."

Posted by: Racing Desk AT 08:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email