Pembrook Benny retired

By Michael Guerin

It is not often you can say a horse, who won over $900,000 and beat the likes of Christen Me at Group One level, is under rated.

Unless that horse is Pembrook Benny.

The Grand Old Man of New Zealand pacing has been retired, slipping out of the Auckland Cup last week, a race where he had produced some of his best performances in the past.

Benny’s career ended after his fifth in the City Of Auckland Free-For-All seven days earlier, the type of race he would have won last season when he had a dramatic and lucrative return to form.

The then nine-year-old broke through for his first group one winning the New Zealand Free-For-All 17 months ago, downing among others Christen Me and Caribbean Blaster.

He then was fantastic over the northern summer, winning regularly and again beating Christen Me fair and square in the Flying Mile at Cambridge.

But the Free-For-All was the highlight of a career than included 22 wins and over $900,000 in stakes as well as two booming Auckland Cup thirds and a NZ Cup fourth.

“He was a wonderful horse and a lovely horse to work with,” said Purdon.

“But he is 10 now and was just starting to battle a bit.

“So he deserves to go into his retirement sound and happy and he is already at a lovely home where he is being ridden and looked after beautifully.

“Rod MacKenzie’s wife Raewyn is looking after him now and she has already rung to tell me we can’t have him back,” laughs Purdon.

After qualifying brilliantly Pembrook Benny was an instant hit for Purdon but had the great misfortune to run into a string of champs in his career --- Auckland Reactor, Smoken Up, I’m Themightyquinn, Blacks A Fake, Christen Me, Monkey King and Terror To Love to mention a few.

 That meant his defeats were some of his greatest performances, his two Auckland Cup thirds in great field while his effort to come from well back, sit parked and run fourth in the NZ Cup 17 months ago was amazing for a nine-year-old at his second run in a campaign.

“He was a great trier and never had an luck when we took him to Australia and easily could have won over $1million.

“But he did a great job and we were very proud of him.”