Maurice finds himself a good one

By Michael Guerin

Maurice McKendry may have found the right boy to join his glamour girl during her southern invasion this May.

And he says he could be the best horse he has trained for a while.

McKendry is in the prime position of looking forward to driving The Orange Agent as pre-draw favourite in both the NZ Oaks and Nevele R Fillies Final at Addington in early May before she moves on to the Jewels to end that month.

The Northern Oaks winner is currently enjoying a quiet time for trainer Brian Hughes before stepping up her preparations for the huge month.

But McKendry, who only trains four horses, could have one of his own at both Addington and Ashburton for those premier meeting after Shandale thrashed his older rivals at Alexandra Park last Friday.

In what was anything but a comfortable race for punters who took the $1.90 price, Shandale spent the first half of the race gawking around and even looked to be struggling as he refused to keep him mind on the job.

But once he had some company in front he started to stretch out and the son of Art Major looked a different horse up to something like top speed.

So much so he raced clear at the top of the straight and put six and a half lengths on his rivals with a 27.7 second last 400m for a 2:43.4 time over the 2200m.

“He is a pretty smart horse but he is very lazy,” said McKendry.

“I had the pulldown blinds on him and he was mucking around but when I used them at the 400m he got serious.

“He has a lovely stride at full speed and I think we haven’t finished winning with him yet.

“It is hard to win those good two-year-old races but he deserves a shot at them.”
 Bred by Breckon Bloodstock, Shandale was purchased by McKendry’s main owner Gerald Shand for “around $50,000” at Karaka so is eligible for both the Sales Series and Sires’ Stakes at Addington.

“It make sense to go down for those two and give him his chance and after that we can decide on the Jewels because he will already be down there.”

While he only ever trains a small team, McKendry has a good strike rate with age group pacers through the likes of Ho Wong, Mr Bojangles and Percy The Punter.

“Good two-year-olds are hard to get but this one has speed so he would be up to the good ones I have had at this stage.”