Impressive Debut Victory for Expensive Pierro 3YO
A $1,050,000 Inglis Easter purchase for Hermitage Thoroughbreds Pty Ltd / Wexford Stables / Andrew Williams Bloodstock from the Coolmore draft, exciting three year-old Dragon Leap (3g Pierro x Pontiana, by Redoute's Choice) underscored his potential staying talent when he stormed home on debut to score over 1400m at Te Rapa in New Zealand on Monday.
Raced by Hong Kong couple Eugene and Karen Chuang under their Hermitage Thoroughbreds banner, the Pierro gelding is prepared by Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott from their Matamata base.
O’Sullivan and Scott have enjoyed success for Hermitage Thoroughbreds through horses such as talented sprinter Spring Heat and Group I winners Summer Passage (Sistema Stakes, 1200m) and Willie Cazals (Livamol Classic, 2040m).
The duo look to have another potential topliner on their hands judging by the way Dragon Leap rounded his rivals up in the closing stages at Te Rapa after spotting the leaders a conservative seven lengths at the entrance to the home straight.
Pocketed between runners with 350m to run, rider Craig Grylls didn’t panic as he pushed Dragon Leap into the clear before he unleashed a powerful finishing burst to accelerate past race favourite in the shadows of the winning post.
“We did like his chances as his work has been very good, but he is bred to run a trip so we thought whatever he does today, the further he goes the better he will get,” O’Sullivan said.
“If he is good enough, he could go up to Hong Kong and maybe one day run in a Derby as that was what he was bought for.
“That was a good way to start today but he still has a long way to go.”
O’Sullivan was quick to acknowledge the patience of the Hermitage Thoroughbreds team when speaking about the future of the horse.
“They have been very patient with this horse and in fact, any horse we have been able to purchase for them,” he said.
“They give us a free reign so we are indebted to them as they are fabulous owners and hopefully, they will be rewarded for it long-term.
“Once we get this guy up running a trip in those three-year-old races then a Derby could be his target as he was certainly purchased to run in a Derby.”
The last horse Hermitage purchased ‘to run in a Derby’ was Champion 3YO The Autumn Sun, who ended up winning five Group I races before retiring to stud at the end of last season.
Foaled and raised at Coolmore, Dragon Leap was the equal highest priced yearling by his sire Pierro sold in 2018.
Dragon Leap is a half-brother to Group I ATC Randwick Guineas winner Inference, who was also third in the Group I VRC Victoria Derby. He is the second winner from stakes-placed Redoute’s Choice mare Pontiana, who has a yearling colt by So You Think and a two year-old filly by Vancouver called Montia that is being trained at Lindsay Park.
Pierro has already sired Levendi to win the Group I ATC Australian Derby and will have the favourite this Saturday in the Group I VRC Victoria Derby in Shadow Hero, a last start winner of the Group I ATC Spring Champion Stakes (2000m).