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 New Zealand Gallops News 
Saturday, July 29 2017

With the onset of a new racing season just around the corner the anticipation of feature race success and the creation of the next generation of equine stars is building throughout racing stables across the country.

Tony Pike - Trish Dunell

One man who seems to have almost an embarrassment of riches is Cambridge conditioner Tony Pike. Fresh off the back of another solid season that saw him tally 53 local victories while going agonisingly close to tearing off the time-honoured Gr. 1 Victoria Derby with Sacred Elixir, Pike is gearing up for a spring that will see him with multiple contenders for the early three-year-old feature titles.

“I’m pretty lucky in that we had a good year with the two-year-olds and it looks as though they are all coming up well as we start getting them ready to make their return to the track in the next month or so,” he advised.

“Like most trainers we are in a little bit of a holding pattern with the tracks being as wet as they are but we have a few options we can utilise to get them up to speed.

“The new training track at Te Rapa is one of those options and we have already taken a couple there for jump-outs. It looks as though they may be going to schedule more regular jump-outs there so we will definitely be heading back to use the surface where we can.”

Aim Smart, a brilliant winner on debut at Pukekohe last November, is one who has already taken advantage of the Te Rapa opportunity as he continues a preparation that began eight weeks ago after a niggling issue saw him put aside after failing at his second raceday appearance.

“Aim Smart is working along nicely and had a gallop at Te Rapa last Thursday,” said Pike.

“He is one we won’t risk on the heavy tracks so he will miss the Te Teko trials in favour of heading back for another jump-out at Te Rapa.

“He has come back in superb order and is well on track at this stage. He will most likely have the Hawkes Bay Guineas as an early target before we look towards the 2000 Guineas at Riccarton.”

Debut Te Rapa winner Sacred Rebel is another that Pike isn’t prepared to risk trialling on heavy ground as he gears up for a similar campaign to Aim Smart.

“He is a lovely horse who did plenty wrong on debut but still got the job done that day,” noted Pike.

“He’s been back for a while now as we didn’t to give him too big a break as he is a pretty gross character who puts on the condition quite easily. He will also have Hastings and Riccarton as his focus.

“We won’t risk him on heavy ground either so he will be another of the team who will spend some time at Te Rapa in his build-up to his first start for the season.”

Pike’s potential Gr. 1 2000 Guineas contenders don’t end there with Haussman, Felton Road and Bostonian all possibilities to make the journey south provided their form warrants the trip.

“Haussman really impressed in his last win and he would definitely appreciate the roomy Riccarton circuit while Felton Road and Bostonian are another pair who we feel have the ability to make it to a race like the 2000 Guineas,” said Pike.

“The challenge is going to be separating them during their campaigns as I don’t really want to race them against each other unless we have to. It is inevitable they will clash but where we can we will try and keep them all apart.”

Pike also has high hopes for rising three-year-old filly Ujjayyi who will be kept to racing right-handed after making a mess of her only attempt going left-handed in the Gr. 2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes.

“Ujjayyi has any amount of ability but it’s fair to say she will be only be going right-handed at this stage,” he chuckled.

“We will be looking at some of the good filly’s races at Ellerslie with her where we think she can be competitive.”

One of the older brigade who will be missing from the early spring contenders for Pike is promising stayer Sacred Shot who is currently on the way back from a minor injury that halted his summer campaign after finishing third to Tavidream at Ellerslie.

“He is a very promising stayer in the making so we won’t be rushing him back straight away,” said Pike.

“He is more likely to be seen later in the summer where a race like the Auckland Cup will be an ideal target for him.”

Posted by: Race Desk AT 06:35 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email