Carrick emerges as big Derby hope

Cambridge trainers Tony Pike (pictured) and Mark Donoghue can rightftully start to feel a bit optimistic over their prospects of going one better in this year’s Group I Telecom NZ Derby at Ellerslie in March.

Last year the pair was represented in the 2400-metre classic by Historian, who ran a slasher for second to Jimmy Choux. And now 10 months later the stable has the promising Carrick being aimed at the $750,000 feature.

Carrick impressed when winning pon debut at Te Teko on October 26 then after being freshened he maintained his unbeaten record when overcoming a downgraded track at Tauranga last Saturday to win the Aztech Signs Tauranga 1400 in good fashion. With Matt Cameron aboard for the first time, Carrick took the short route home after trailing the leaders and won by a short neck.

Pike had been in doubt about Carrick’s chances on the slow track, but opted to press ahead after summing up the chances of getting him to the Derby. “He needed to run to get his Derby prep underway,” said Pike. “It worked out well in the end.”

Pike is now looking forward to stepping Carrick up over more ground. “ He was only just warming up at Tauranga,” he said. “He’s always worked like a stayer and he’s racing like a stayer.”

Carrick is likely to now encounter his first trip outside the Waikato — Bay Of Plenty district with a tilt at the Group III $70,000 Wellington Stakes (1600m) at Trentham next Saturday as the mission. That will give Carrick’s fans a good guide to his ability as he will take on some smart three-year-olds, including Knight’s Tour, Ocean Park and Burgundy.

All going well Carrick will then be at Te Rapa on February 4 for the Group III Waikato Guineas (2000m) and Avondale on February 18 for the Group II Avondale Guineas (2100m). Those two features were part of Historian’s Derby buildup last season, the results being a third to Jimmy Choux in the Waikato Guineas and a fourth to Icepin in the Group II Avondale Guineas, his final leadup to the Derby.

Pike prepares Carrick for Lynton Ltd, a company of which he is a member as well as his parents Wayne and Vicki Pike.

“I bought him privately from Henk Smit, who stands Shinko King (at Paxton Park),” said Pike. “Michael Wallace told me about him and another horse. I bought them both as weanlings and the other one won a trial by six lengths and we’ve sold him to Hong Kong.”

Carrick is currently on the fourth line of Fixed Odds betting for the NZ Derby with the TAB offering odds of $10, the same  as smart Cambridge filly Zurella. Rock ‘n” Pop and Knight’s Tour are early favourites at $5 with Ocean Park at $6 and Nashville at $9.