Melbourne still on cards for Carrick

Cambridge galloper Carrick could still get to Melbourne if he performs well in Saturday’s Group I $300,000 NZ Bloodstock Spring Classic at Hastings.

Carrick could have been preparing for a Melbourne race now had he not made up for lost time when pushing his way into the 2040-metre weight-for-age feature.

The NZ Derby placegetter  didn’t begin his current campaign until last month when sixth over 1400 metres at Ellerslie and it was a do or die bid to get into the Spring Classic when he headed to Hastings on September 22.

Trainers Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue had feared they were running out of time to have him ready for the last leg of the Hawke’s Bay Triple Crown and were instead looking at Australian races for him.

But Carrick put his best foot forward on the second day at Hastings, despite stepping straight from 1400 to 2000, and in a game bid he scored by a short head.

“We were running out of time, but it has all fallen into place,” said Pike.  “It wasn’t really a suitable race for him second-up, but he still won it. And he has shown obvious improvement out of it.”

Pike says Carrick may head over to Melbourne for the tailend of the Spring Carnival with races such as the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Sandown Cup being options.

“But we don’t want him to have a hard campaign because we’ll look at Brisbane next winter,” said Pike. “He could be ideal for a race like the Brisbane Cup.”

Carrick boasts a record of three wins and three placings from seven starts and two of those placings last season where thirds behind the top three-year-old Silent Achiever (Avondale Guineas and NZ Derby).

Carrick will be ridden as usual by Leith Innes, who will also be aboard stablemates Sacred Falls and Aspinal, other leading chances at Hastings.

Sacred Falls is unbeaten in three starts and has drawn the ace (one) in the Group II $85,000 DHL Global Hawke’s Bay Guineas.

“He’s tightened up nicely from his Ruakaka run and safely through this he will go to Te Rapa for the James and Annie Sarten Memorial,” said Pike.

Aspinal will be looking for a change of luck in the Group III $70,000 Traderacks Stakes after being held up over the final stages when fourth to Ginner Hart at Hastings.