Eagles landed on Boxing Day

Leith Innes returning to scale on Huka Eagle after a courageous win yesterday. (Photo: Trish Dunell/NZ Racing Desk).

Leith Innes returning to scale on Huka Eagle after a courageous win yesterday. (Photo: Trish Dunell/NZ Racing Desk).


Cambridge trainer Tony Pike is tempted to steer clear of a couple of immediate major races with Allez Eagle and Huka Eagle despite their wins at Ellerslie yesterday.

Ridden by Rory Hutchings, Allez Eagle led throughout to decisively win the $40,000 NZ Herald 1400 by a length and a quarter from Fast Dragon, while Huka Eagle came out three races later to stage a determined win in the Tip Top 3YO 1400.

Allez Eagle’s win, his fifth from 10 starts, suggested he would rate a strong lightweight chance in the Gr. 2 Rich Hill Mile at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day. But Pike says a start in the feature might not be in the best interests of the horse.

“He’s just got his confidence back and I want him to keep it,” said Pike. “I don’t think dropping him in the deep end by running in the Rich Hill Mile will be the right thing. It comes around a bit too soon.

“He’s nominated for the Thorndon Mile at Trentham and it could be better to wait for that.”

Allez Eagle was impressive in his debut at Te Rapa last October, but disaster struck in his next start, the Gr. 3 James & Annie Sarten Memorial when he was injured in the barrier and allowed to start.

After the race he required veterinary treatment to his injured right foreleg and later underwent an operation to remove bone fragment.

Allez Eagle returned to record two wins before heading to Melbourne where a fourth from three starts was his best result.

“He’s basically taken 12 months to get over what happened at Te Rapa and get his confidence back,” said Pike.

Allez Eagle is raced by Colin Keane under the W. Eagles Plumbing Supplies’ banner and therefore races in the same ownership as Huka Eagle.

Huka Eagle was headed by No Tricks in the final stages of yesterday’s race, but kicked back bravely to win by a nose.

“He’s a funny horse as he tends to float when he gets to the front then as soon as he gets headed he sticks his head down and comes again,” said Pike. “That’s what he did again today. He did that last time when Volkstok’n’barrell beat him here, but it’s just that the winner got him right on the line that day.”

Hula Eagle has now had four starts for three wins and the second and holds a nomination for the Gr. 1 $240,000 Levin Classic at Trentham on January 17.

“He’s still got a lot to learn so it might be best to wait and run him instead in the Karaka Mile on Karaka Million night,” said Pike.