Former New Zealand top winter stayer Pacorus turned back the clock at Ellerslie on Saturday as he stormed to victory over 2200m for his first win since he took out a similar event at the venue nearly two years ago.
Capably handled by Darren Danis, the nine-year-old Tavistock gelding kept up a sustained run in the home straight to win convincingly from race favourite Voler Pour Moi and provide trainer Chris Wood with a special moment.
“I got a real kick out of that as he has always been a stable favourite,” Wood said.
“He has been with me since he was a two-year-old and probably knows more about my place than I do.
“He hadn’t been going as well as he could although I thought he still had a win or two left in him.
“Actually, I thought he might have been a run short for this one, but he came out and put them away like he used to do.
“I was also pleased for Darren as he has a good attitude and comes and helps me out by riding work during the week.
“He has just come out of his apprenticeship and it can be hard to get rides, but as he is supporting me then I will try and support him.”
Wood will now set Pacorus, who has won 11 races including the Group 3 Rotorua Cup (2200m), for his fourth attempt at the Kiwifruit Cup (2100m) at Tauranga later this month, a race he won back in 2017.
“It would be a pretty good achievement to win that Kiwifruit Cup four years after he first won it,” he said.
“I’m just hoping the handicapper doesn’t get stuck into him as he should get in on a competitive weight.”
Wood was also delighted with the performance by his promising three-year-old Funtonic at Ellerslie, with the son of Delago Deluxe finishing on well for third behind Oseleta and Butler over 1200m.
“He (Funtonic) was really good as he didn’t handle the track at all but still found the line well,” Wood said.
“I think he is a pretty smart type who will keep getting better when we can run him on a good track.
“He won his maiden nicely on the synthetic track at home (Cambridge) so he will be heading back there for one of those NZ$40,000 races they are having at the end of July.
“He can have a run or two before then to tick him over, but it won’t be on a really heavy track as he just isn’t suited to that type of footing.”
Wood, who is rapidly approaching his 60th birthday, has no plans to give training away while he still enjoys all that goes into working with his boutique stable.
“I’ve got ten in work at the moment and it would be nice to have half a dozen more, but I’m not complaining,” he said.
“I still enjoy getting up in the morning and working the team. I rode four myself during the week, so I’m still fit enough to do that although I’m nowhere near the riding weight I was when I was a jockey.
“I actually contemplated getting my amateur license, but it would have meant losing a heap of weight and buying a whole new wardrobe, so I gave up that idea pretty quickly!”