Gosford Test For Gospodin

Jim Pender is on a fact-finding mission as he prepares to saddle his first Australian runner in more than a decade.

The Tauranga trainer has crossed the Tasman with six-race winner and last-start Listed placegetter Gospodin, who will make his Australian debut in Saturday’s Listed Takeover Target Stakes (1200m) at Gosford.

Pender’s previous Australian runner was the two-year-old Alkie, who ran third at Canterbury in February of 2011 before finishing fifth in the Gr.2 Silver Slipper (1100m) at Rosehill.

“The last one we sent over was back in 2011, so it’s been a while since we’ve done it,” Pender said.

“I was very happy with Gospodin’s run for second in that Listed race at Hastings last start. He was only second-up in a new preparation, but he did a great job there.

“I’ve travelled over to Australia with him, and he’s handling everything really well. He’s settled in nicely and is eating well and seems nice and happy, so it’s so far, so good.”

Gospodin will be ridden by Brock Ryan in Saturday’s A$200,000 sprint feature, where his opposition includes this year’s Gr.1 Galaxy (1100m) winner Shelby Sixtysix.

“This is going to be a big test for him, but we don’t really have much else to look at back home with a horse like him,” Pender said. “There’s not that much money to race for at home at this time of year, and if he happened to win a couple more races, suddenly he’s carrying 60 kilos.

“This is at least going to give us some idea of where we are with him. If we’re lucky enough to have him run a good race this weekend, I’ll talk to the owners about the possibility of carrying on up to Queensland. There are a couple of nice races coming up that we could look at during the carnival there.”

Pender’s stable is a trans-Tasman operation this weekend, with last-start Pukekohe placegetter El Bandolero lining up in Saturday’s See You At Te Rapa Tavern Mile (1600m) closer to home.

“It’s not easy for a small stable like us to have runners at Gosford and Te Rapa on the same day, but I’ve got a great team handling things back home and I know El Bandolero is in safe hands,” Pender said.

“He ran a nice race at Pukekohe the other day and was possibly a bit unlucky not to win there, and by all accounts he’s going well heading into this race, so I think he’ll be competitive at Te Rapa on Saturday.”

– NZ Racing Desk

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