IN Racing
Pignan causes an upset in Group One feature
Irishman Joe Doyle claimed the biggest win of his short riding career in New Zealand when he guided Pignan to an upset victory in the Gr.1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni.
NZ Racing Desk | April 01, 2023
Photo: Peter Rubery

Irishman Joe Doyle claimed the biggest win of his short riding career in New Zealand when he guided Pignan to an upset victory in the Gr.1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni.

The two-year-old daughter of Novara Park Stud stallion Staphanos was overlooked in the betting for the race despite never being out of the money in five previous races including finishing third in the Gr.2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) at her last start.

Doyle, who emigrated to New Zealand in November last year to further his development as a jockey, sits in the top 30 on the National jockeys’ premiership ladder with 18 wins and had won more than 180 races before arriving from County Tipperary, but none at the highest level.

That was rectified in accomplished fashion as he sat the Lisa Latta-trained runner in behind the pace from barrier one, before looming into contention early in the home straight,

After claiming the lead from favourite Trobriand, Pignan held out a late challenge from runner-up Aprilia and third-placed To Catch A Thief and set locals alight as they celebrated the success at odds of better than $23.

Latta admitted the victory continued on her run of success this season which includes taking the Gr.2 Auckland Cup (3200m) with Platinum Invador last month and the Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) with He’s A Doozy back in January.

“I’ve had a great season and I definitely can’t complain,” Latta said.

“She is a really good little galloper and he (Doyle) said to me he wasn’t concerned by the inside draw as he knew she would see the 1400m out.”

Purchased by noted bloodstock agent Adrian Clark for $15,000 out of the Westend Partnership draft during the 2021 National Weanling Sale at Karaka, Pignan is raced by former All White Andy Rennie, All Black legend Christian Cullen and Cullen’s former manager David Monnery.

Rennie was bouncing around the birdcage with excitement after the victory as he explained the win was the culmination of a plan set after Pignan won over 1100m at Trentham back in December.

“It is great to be involved with these guys (Monnery and Cullen), as we have probably half a dozen horses now,” he said.

“We knew this filly was tough and that she would get the 1400m.

“It was a great ride by Joe and we stuck to the plan all the way through after she won at Trentham (second start) and this was her grand final.

“We got a great draw, which makes a big difference and we tracked the favourite into the race, which helped.”

Doyle was beaming from ear to ear as he brought the filly back into the Awapuni birdcage, with his only regret being that his parents weren’t on hand to witness the win in person.

“I’m absolutely over the moon with that,” Doyle said.

“I’m so grateful to Lisa and her team, who have done a fantastic job with this filly as she has been on the go for quite awhile and doesn’t know how to run a bad race.

“I got onto Opie’s coat-tails (Bosson aboard Trobriand) and stayed there the whole way and my filly is as tough as nails.

“She showed that today and I’m just so excited for next season.

“Unfortunately, this came a week too late as Mum and Dad were here until last week, but I’m sure they will be drinking champagne to celebrate.”

Pignan becomes the first stakes and Group One winner for Staphanos, a son of international sire sensation Deep Impact, from his first southern hemisphere crop after commencing stud duties at Luigi Muollo’s Novara Park Stud in Cambridge in 2019.

Staphanos himself was a maiden winner at two but went on to far greater things as he matured. He won three races up to Group Three level as a three-year-old, then was a multiple Group One placegetter in Japan and Hong Kong at the ages of four, five and six.

Pignan has now won two of her six starts and over $240,000 in prizemoney.

Adrian Clark Aprilia Awapuni Christian Cullen David Monnery Gr.1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes Joe Doyle Karaka Lisa Latta Novara Park Stud Staphanos