IN Racing
Former Kiwis shine at Sandown
Named after a dual AFL premiership winning coach, Pagan looks set for a promising career after scoring at Sandown on Wednesday.
NZ Racing Desk | December 23, 2021
Photo: Reg Ryan (Racing Photos)

Named after a dual AFL premiership winning coach, Pagan looks set for a promising career after scoring at Sandown on Wednesday.

The son of Shamexpress picked up his maiden win at the second time of asking over 1300m on Wednesday after finishing runner-up over 1200m at Pakenhman when on debut last month.

Easing late in the betting to start the $2.60 favourite, Pagan held off Newly Wed ($3.90), and then survived a protest, to score by a short-neck with Midivani ($11) a further 1-½ lengths off third.

His namesake Denis Pagan, is now a trainer, with his biggest win in racing coming courtesy of New Zealand-bred Johnny get Angry in last year’s Gr.1 Victoria Derby (2500m).

Pagan shares the trainers hut at Flemington with Pagan’s trainers Ben and JD Hayes. 

Ben Hayes was taken with the win of Pagan and impressed with gelding's turn of toot. 

"It looked to me that he hit the front and thought that he had done his job and went to pull up a bit," Hayes said. 

"We were holding our breath in the last 25 metres, but he's got stacks of talent. 

"It is really good to get the win for Peter Lam, a new owner for us and he will be thrilled with the result." 

Prebble had planned on riding Pagan closer to the speed on Wednesday, but after a slow beginning had to resort to Plan B. 

"He's still very new, raw and it was his ability that got him through," Prebble said. 

"He's got a beautiful action, a beautiful stride, but he's still a bit dumb. 

"I think racing is going to be his best friend for him to get that experience and for the penny to drop. 

"I thought he was going to really put them away and win by panels, but he got there, got onto the rail and then battle on his own and he'll be better when he's got a bunny to chase." 

Pagan was initially purchased out of Windsor Park Stud’s 2020 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 2 Yearling Sale draft by bloodstock agent Chris Rutten for $45,000.

He subsequently won his sole New Zealand trial over 800m at Cambridge for trainer Jamie Richards in July before being purchased in a deal brokered by bloodstock agent Andrew Williams.

Meanwhile, the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Can’t Go Wong made it two wins from two starts, both at Sandown, with the son of Per Incanto patiently handled under John Allen and finding the line at the right time over 1600m.

Purchased at the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run Sale from the draft of Kiltannon Stables for $70,000, Maher and Eustace called upon the skills of two former employees after being unable to attend the Karaka Sale due to COVID restrictions.

“Conor Fahy and Sarah Worker, who used to work for us, found him for us in New Zealand,” Eustace said.

“They have set up shop on their own (under Kawa Park) and we couldn’t get over to New Zealand for the sales. Conor said to Ciaron ‘I think you should buy him’ and he was relatively inexpensive.

“We then went to Mahjong, one of our favourite restaurants in town on Fitzroy street, run by Max Tsang and he bought the horse and sold it down amongst friends. It is a really good ownership group.”

Also successful on the Sandown card was Kiwi import Tigertiger, who continues to race successfully for Rob Blacker since transferring from Foxton trainer Ian Shaw last year, with Shaw remaining in the ownership.

The son of Zed did his early ground work in New Zealand but had just one placing from 11 starts.

He powered over the top of his rivals to win over 2400m on Wednesday, recording his fourth victory since arriving with Mornington trainer Blacker, for whom the six-year-old has yet to finish out of the money in nine starts.

Blacker is keen to keep the progressive stayer stepping through his grades and will likely head to a Benchmark 70 over 2400m at Caulfield on January 8.

“He tries so hard and he stays,” Blacker said.

“My mate Adam Shaw, his father Ian bred him and trained him in New Zealand. He won the New Zealand Cup (Gr.2, 3200m) with his mother Hoorang.

“Ian trains at Foxton and he had younger horses and they sent him over here. We have plenty of races at the right distance range for him, whereas they can be quite hard to place at times in New Zealand.”

Pagan Shamexpress Denis Pagan Johnny get Angry Victoria Derby Ben and JD Hayes Windsor Park Stud New Zealand Bloodstock Chris Rutten Jamie Richards John Allen Andrew Williams Ciaron Maher David Eustace Can’t Go Wong Kiltannon Stables Conor Fahy Sarah Worker Kawa Park Max Tsang Tigertiger