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Patience is paying off for veteran New Zealand horseman Jim Pender after Gospodin reeled off his second consecutive victory when winning the Aquaholics Plumbing 3YO (1300m) on his home track of Tauranga on Saturday.
Pender has always had a high opinion of the three-year-old despite the son of Proisir not filling a placing in his first four starts.
But Pender persisted and he’s been rewarded with two impressive all-the-way victories and the promise of further to come.
“His form didn’t read too good to start with but he always showed us he had the ability,” Pender said.
“However, he was a little bit of a rogue early on and he needed some time to mature. He’s a lot better now and he looks like he will go on with it.”
Pender also puts some of Gospodin’s improvement down to getting Jonathan Riddell on board. He’s now ridden the gelding three times for two wins and a second.
“I think that with his jumps riding background he’s very good at sitting quietly on a horse. He doesn’t try and fight them and they seem to relax and go kindly for him.” Pender said.
Pender’s biggest problem with Gospodin right now is finding the right race for him. The victory takes his rating up to 68, meaning he needs to find Rating 74 events for him.
“It’s a bit of a problem, because he’s going to be down in the weights in those races right now and Jonathan is unlikely to make the weight,” he said.
“Also, there aren’t that many suitable races for him. Of the next six Saturday race meets, three of them are at Ruakaka, which is really too far for us to go, and a couple of the others don’t have suitable races. It looks like we’ll need to wait until the 24th of July at Te Rapa.”
Bred and owned by Markwood Lodge, an operation set up by the Matijasevich brothers of Te Aroha, Gospodin is a granddaughter of Tough Call, whose five victories include the Listed Cambridge Breeders’ Stakes (1200m).
Pender, 68, has been training at Tauranga for more than 30 years and has been especially successful on his home track. Of his 284 race victories, about 115 of them have been at Tauranga.
“My father trained in Rotorua and though I was a stock agent for a while, I ended up beginning my training career in Tauranga,” he said.
“It’s not always easy finding staff, but that’s a problem right around the country from what I can see. However, I’ve enjoyed racing the whole way through. The buzz of winning races is great, and I love living in Tauranga.”
Pender’s outstanding record at Tauranga includes a great record in feature races at the track, the Group 2 Japan Trophy (1600m) in particular. He’s won the race four times, with Power Chief (1992), Ginga Dude (2008), Casabella Lane (2010) and Our Star Pupil (2011).
Given its location in a city where demand for housing has been intense, there has been suggestions that the course, which sits on lease land from the crown, be sold and a new one built a little further out of the city centre, but Pender is very much against the idea.
“I can’t see the point of building another course when the one we have is fine. More housing here is just going to create more traffic problems,” he said.