Farewell to the stallion who bounced back after falling out of favour

Pentire has left 16 individual G1 winners, nine of them in Australia, of 33 races. Photo: Trish Dunell

New Zealand has lost one of its most successful and undoubtedly versatile stallions with the death yesterday of Rich Hill Stud’s Pentire.

The English-bred son of Be My Guest and the Mill Reef mare Gull Nook was the Walton farm’s foundation sire and subsequently made his mark from his base near Matamata at the elite level throughout Australasia and further afield.

“He was 25, but I thought he was going to live forever - he was still serving and so healthy and well,” Rich Hill studmaster John Thompson said. “We noticed after lunch on Monday he looked a bit uncomfortable and I got a bad feeling about it. In 20 years we’d only had the vet to him twice.

“We got him to the clinic and he went into surgery and when they opened him up they found a tumour that the intestine had wrapped around,” Thompson said. “They removed the growth and the intestine hadn’t been compromised. They got him into recovery, but sadly he didn’t wake up.”

He was trained at Newmarket by Geoff Wragg, who died in September aged 87. A top-quality racehorse with a Timeform rating of 132 at three and four, Pentire was the dual G1 winner of the Irish Champion Stakes (2000m) and the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (2400m) at Ascot before his retirement in 1997.

“He was due to arrive the same day our first born was due. It was a toss-up whether John would attend the arrival of his foundation stallion or his first born,” Thompson’s wife Colleen said. “Fortunately, our daughter Emma arrived on time, but Pentire’s flight was delayed. He arrived three days later and he’s been part of the family ever since.”

Instrumental in Rich Hill securing Pentire was bloodstock agent Michael Otto.

“ShadaiFarm had Pentire and at the time they were looking to break into Australasia and Michael knew we were looking for a stallion and we ended up standing him,” Thompson said.

John Thompson with Pentire and Japanese groom Naoki Sakota soon after the stallion’s arrival at Rich Hill Stud

Pentire has left 16 individual G1 winners, nine of them in Australia, of 33 races, from 1200 to 3200m, with his son Mufhasa a ten-time winner at the highest level, His record was further rewarded with two New Zealand Horse of the Year titles.

Xcellent was another outstanding representative with multiple G1 victories and a Melbourne Cup placing while Prince Of Penzance sparked Rich Hill celebrations three years ago when he won the Flemington feature.

Pentire’s G1 roll of honour also features Xtravagant, now at stud in New South Wales, Zarita, Rangirangdoo, Pantani, Art Success, Penny Gem, Pentane, Recurring, Markus Maximus, Say No More, Chenille, Volatile Mix and Ferlax.

At the time of his death, he was New Zealand’s leading active sire of G1 winners with only Redoute’s Choice and Fastnet Rock boasting more individual G1 winners from their Australasian-bred progeny.

Pentire’s stud career also featured a remarkable comeback after falling out of favour. “He only had 12 foals in 2002 and that would have finished most stallions,” Thompson said. “I was surprised at the time by the lack of interest of New Zealand breeders, but he bounced right back.”

Pentire shuttled between Japan and New Zealand in the early years and, following two shuttle seasons to Germany, he was permanently repatriated to Rich Hill in 2005. He was represented by stakes winners in both Japan and Germany and winners in 24 other countries.

“It just won’t be the same around here without him, but his legacy will live on and Pentire is always going to be seen as a strength in any pedigree,” Thompson said.

“He’s had four Group 1 winners in the last two seasons and I’m certain there are more to come.”

Pentire was laid to rest at Rich Hill earlier today. 

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