Pinzaara the brightest star on the planet

 She’s no champion, but in the eyes of her legion of fans she’s the brightest star on the planet.

Pinzaara is her name and on Boxing Day she’ll step out on her “home” track for what may be the last time. Ellerslie has been her favourite hunting ground, the scene of four wins and five minor placings from 21 appearances. For the past three years she has shone like a beacon for the Auckland Racing Club Winners Circle Syndicate No. 1.

The $50,000 Hallmark Stud Newmarket Handicap is well within Pinzaara’s grasp, blessed as she is at last with an inside barrier draw to complement her on-pace style. If she wins, it’s on the cards that she’ll be back on New Year’s Day for Ellerslie’s premier sprint, the Gr. 1 Sistema Railway Stakes. If she doesn’t, no harm done as she heads home to Waikato Stud to nurture the Savabeel embryo she’s carrying.

This little chestnut has been no ordinary racehorse; in short she has endeared herself to her horde of syndicate members and supporters since the lease papers were signed back in 2011.

Pinzaara’s early career was unspectacular as she took time to develop her style, but from the time she broke through at Dargaville in early 2012, she’s hardly looked back. On the middle day of the 2012-13 Ellerslie Christmas carnival she scored her first win at headquarters, another followed last December and then another on Auckland Cup day in March. In October she made it four on the track when she refused to let two smart sorts in Albany Reunion and Kelly O’Reilly past for her first open class victory.

Another step up in grade for the Gr. 2 Valachi Downs Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes at the New Zealand Cup carnival almost produced a dream result when she was run down late. Returning to home base, again she gave her all to lead from a wide gate in the Gr. 3 Concorde Handicap before being swallowed up in the last 100 metres.

Ask anyone who knows her well and they’ll say she deserves to win the Newmarket on Boxing Day. Trainer Stephen McKee admires the tough streak that might have tested his patience early on but which he now recognises as her most potent weapon. Sam Spratt, her jockey more often than not, also appreciates what makes her tick to the point that she still laughs about the time she got dumped on the track after that win at Ellerslie last March.

“She’s such a cool little horse,” says Spratt. “You can’t knock her, no matter what race she’s in she gives it everything.

“If they all tried as hard as she does, my job would be easy.”

Then there’s Brent Cooper, Auckland Racing Club director and the energy behind his club’s racehorse syndication initiative. “When we got the Winners Circle off the ground it was meant to last three years, but it’s largely down to this little girl that it’s been five years and we’re now stronger than ever,” he says.

“She’s brought all these people together and made them appreciate just how much fun it can be to race a horse that leaves nothing on the track.

“Every member of the syndicate just loves her, she’s no champion but she’s our little star. Look at her record and you realise that every time, without fail, she’s given all she’s got. And to do it so often at Ellerslie is just perfect for what we’re about.”

The Auckland Racing Club Winners Circle No. 1, made up of 100 shares requiring a $75 monthly payment, made an auspicious beginning when one of its first horses, the Waikato Stud-leased filly Masquerade, won her second start as a two-year-old and then added the Listed Soliloquy Stakes at Ellerslie in the spring of 2009.

Other horses have followed – some winners, some losers – and now the syndicate finds itself as the owner, thanks to a healthy bank balance, of the last-start Ellerslie winner Elucidate.

Come Boxing Day, syndicate members will be out in force again at Ellerslie with eyes only for one, that brave little chestnut who they just know will jump and run, pin her ears back when the challenges come and do her darnedest to deliver her cheer-squad a Christmas present to cherish.

“It’s a shame that it’s nearly over, but it’s been a ball,” says Coops. “If she wins we’ll pay up for the Railway, if she doesn’t you won’t hear anyone complaining. Either way, you couldn’t ask for more from our Pinzy.”

Dennis Ryan, The Informant

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