Birthday boy celebrates in style

Cambridge trainer Tony Pike left the Pukekohe racecourse today with a bundle of birthday wins and the promise of on-going success.

Pike, who trains in partnership with Mark Donoghue, celebrated his 39th birthday with a treble of wins, including one of the feature races on the Counties Racing Club card.

Sacred Star started the ball rolling when living up to his favouritism when winning the Vernon & Vazey Truck Parts 1600 in the hands of Leith Innes. He took his record to four wins from 12 starts and is unbeaten in his two appearances this campaign.

A tilt at the Gr. 2 Rich Hill Mile at Ellerslie over the Christmas-New Year Carnival is being considered for Sacred Star, who is owned by Raffles Thorougbred Racing.

Three races later Pike and Donoghue were back in the winner’s enclosure courtesy of More Than Sacred, who had provided the stable with Group One success last season when taking the NZ Oaks at Trentham.

Also raced by a Raffles Farm syndicate and ridden by Leith Innes, More Than Sacred won with plenty in hand, striding clear over the final stages to be two and three-quarter lengths in front of fellow Cambridge galloper Storming The Tower.

More Than Sacred is now a serious lightweight prospect for the Gr. 2 Waikato Times Gold Cup at Te Rapa next month and could press on for some of the other major cups.

Though Sacred Star and More Than Sacred won well, the performance Waterford produced when taking the Listed $50,000 BNZ Partners Counties Bowl completely overshadowed the efforts of her stablemates.

Settled among the tailenders by Mark Du Plessis, Waterford was hooked to the outside in the home straight and charged home to not only collar the leaders but also race away to score by four and a quarter lengths from the Ralph Manning-trained Civics Rock.

Making the win of Waterford even more special for Pike is the fact that he is a part-owner and co-breeder of the Darci Brahma filly with his parents, Wayne and Vicki.

Waterford is now unbeaten in her two starts this campaign and is on track for the Gr. 1 Sistema Railway Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day. Victory in the 1200-metre feature would be deserving after her close second at Group One level 12 months ago in the NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas at Riccarton.

“She was always going to be outpaced, but she’s got a big finish and it was good to see it today,” said Pike after the race. “She goes very well fresh and won’t run again before the Railway.”