Pike team out in force at Te Rapa

Hollywood Lass streeting her rivals on debut at Te Aroha.

Hollywood Lass streeting her rivals on debut at Te Aroha, but will be facing a far tougher test at Te Rapa tomorrow.

Tony Pike’s mood changed as he cast his eyes down the list of acceptances for Saturday’s meeting at Te Rapa.

As President of the Cambridge Jockey Club, Pike is thrilled with the quality and quantity of the fields for his club’s popular meeting. But as a trainer his smile turned into a frown as he scanned the acceptance sheet looking at the barrier draws for his runners.

Pike will saddle up seven starters at the meeting, including two acceptors (Koenigsegg One and Hollywood Lass) in one of the features, the Gr. 3 $70,000 Inglis Sales Cambridge Breeders Stakes.

“The draws were looking good until I got to the Breeders Stakes,” said Pike. “Hollywood Lass has drawn 13 and Koenigsegg One, 16, so it will be very tough for them. It’s a shame as they’ve both been going well.

“Looking at the draws, it’s hard to see Xtravagant (two) beaten. Unless he runs a horror, it should be a walk in the park for him.”

Whatever the outcome, Pike believes both Hollywood Lass and Koenigsegg One have bright futures.

Hollywood Lass, a Swiss Ace filly, has impressed regular rider Leith Innes, winning two trials then cruising clear to score by four and three-quarter lengths on debut at Te Aroha. In the first of those trials she defeated Lewis Caroll, who is unbeaten in two starts and a strong chance in the final event on Saturday.

“It’s a huge jump for her and whether she’s got the class for it we’ll see,” said Pike.

Koenigsegg One, also by Swiss Ace, is on trial for a Queensland campaign and is fresh-up, having not started since he cleared maiden ranks easily in a special conditions 1200 on Karaka Millions night at Ellerslie last January.

He had been runner-up on debut at Taupo and he furthered his preparation for the Breeders’ Stakes when winning at the Waipa trials last week.

“His work has been good,” said Pike. “From the wide draw, we’ll have to ride him cold and let him get home. Next season he could be a star.”

Most outside interest in the Pike stable runners at Te Rapa will centre of Raghu, the Derby placegetter who will resume in the Clubhouse Café and Sports Bar Cambridge Premier (1600m).

Raghu is being set for the Gr. 1 $ A600,000 Queensland Derby on June 11 and Pike expects to be giving the thumbs up after Saturday’s race.

“He trialled lovely at Waipa last week (when second) and didn’t have any pressure put on him,” said Pike. “He had a couple of weeks off after the Derby and he thrived.”

Raghu will be reunited with Michael McNab, who missed the Derby ride through suspension. McNab rode him to win the Karaka 3YO Mile and finish second in the Waikato Guineas and third equal in the Avondale Guineas.

Pike will also use the Te Rapa meeting to step out his smart two-year-old Sacred Rhythm, who is unbeaten in two trials, and Abaddon, Private Hero and Parker’s Piece.

“Sacred Rhythm is a promising filly and has drawn well,” said Pike. “Abaddon was unlucky last start and the step up to 1400 will help. Private Hero is just getting fit. He over-raced a bit last time so we’ve taken the blinkers off. Parker’s Piece always runs well at Te Rapa.”