Leading NZ sire Pentire dies after surgery at 25

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Rich Hill Stud stallion manager Damien Kirwan parading Pentire.
Rich Hill Stud stallion manager Damien Kirwan parading Pentire. © Trish Dunell

Pentire, the sire of 2015 Melbourne Cup winner Prince of Penzance, has died in New Zealand following surgery to remove a tumour from his abdomen.

The English-bred son of Be My Guest and the Mill Reef mare Gull Nook did not wake up after the surgery on November 20. He was aged 25.

Rich Hill studmaster John Thompson said staff noticed the stallion looked uncomfortable after lunch on Monday. “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.”

Pentire 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,” Thompson said.

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

A top racehorse with a Timeform rating of 132 at three and four, Pentire was the dual Group One winner of the Irish Champion Stakes (2000m) and the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (2400m) before his retirement in 1997.

Thompson’s wife Colleen said Pentire was to arrive at the stud from Japan the same day their first child was to be born.

“It was a toss-up whether John would attend the arrival of his foundation stallion or his first born.

“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.”

Pentire has left 16 individual Group One winners, nine of them in Australia, of 33 races, 13 across the Tasman, from 1200 to 3200m with his son Mufhasa a 10-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 Group One victories and a Melbourne Cup placing while Prince Of Penzance sparked Rich Hill celebrations three years ago when he won the Flemington feature with Michelle Payne on board. She was the first woman to ride a Melbourne Cup winner.

Prince Of Penzance and Michelle Payne power to the lead in the 2015 Melbourne Cup.
Prince of Penzance and Michelle Payne power to the lead in the 2015 Melbourne Cup.

Pentire’s Group One 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 Group One winners and only Redoute’s Choice and Fastnet Rock could boast more individual Group One 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 One winners in the last two seasons and I’m certain there are more to come.”

Pentire was laid to rest at Rich Hill on Tuesday.

NZ Thoroughbred Marketing

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