Irish bred globetrotting entire Pure Champion (8h Footstepsinthesand x Castara Beach, by Danehill) claimed his first Group I win in New Zealand on Saturday when taking out the Windsor Park Horlicks Plate over 1600 metres at Hastings.
A Group III winner in his native Ireland and in Hong Kong, the winner is co-trained by part-owner Lance O’Sullivan, who races the entire with his wife Bridgette and his parents Dave and Marie.
“It’s a fantastic thrill for all the staff at Wexford Stables, Andrew (Scott, O’Sullivan’s training partner) and the family,” O’Sullivan said.
“He was retired when we got him and Andrew has pretty much done everything with him so all credit to him.”
Pure Champion won the Group III Solonaway Stakes at The Curragh in his eighth and final appearance in Ireland before he was sent to Hong Kong where he was successful in the January Cup HK Gr 3 at Sha Tin and the Centenary Vase HKGr 3. He was also runner-up in the Group I Hong Kong Gold Cup.
His form subsequently tapered off and the eight-year-old found his way to Matamata.
“A jockey up in Hong Kong said to my brother, Paul (who trains in Hong Kong), that he had heard he had a brother training in New Zealand and suggested Pure Champion might have a future down here and that’s pretty much how we came by him,” O’Sullivan said.
A strong third in the Group I Makfi Challenge Stakes behind I Do a his previous start, Pure Champion enjoyed a good run behind the pace on Saturday and let down strongly in the straight to turn the tables on the mare.
“It was a wonderful ride by Craig (Grylls) and we wanted him to hold his ground coming into the first corner with the speed coming from the outside and that’s exactly what happened,” O’Sullivan said.
“He’s a very happy animal and hopefully he’ll get a job at stud somewhere in time.”
Next on the agenda for Pure Champion is the Group I Livamol Spring Classic at Hastings on October 4.