Pike finalising Queensland squad

Tony Pike has ticked off three of his possible four flyers on Thursday’s plane to Queensland and will make a decision on the other horse later today.

Stablemates Rock Diva and Sancerre passed their Queensland tests when doing an exhibition gallop between races at last Saturday’s Cambridge Jockey Club’s meeting at Te Rapa, while Sacred Star is also confirmed for the sole flight to Brisbane.

“The other one, Allez Eagle, is 50-50 on going,” said Pike. “I’ve nominated him for the Gold Coast Guineas on Saturday but I doubt he’ll make the field.

“He’s got the class to take over but he lacks the prize-money. He’s only had the one win (from two starts) and it’s hard chasing your tail trying to earn enough over there to get in the big races.

“If he doesn’t look like getting in the Gold Coast Guineas I’ll probably keep him home and give him a couple of runs here. If he does well I could then look at some of the three-year-old races in Melbourne for him.”

Pike had hoped to boost Allez Eagle’s prizemoney ($7810) in last Saturday’s Cambridge Jockey Club Breeders’ Stakes, but the horse was left on the ballot list.

While disappointed at not getting a start with Allez Eagle, Pike was very pleased with the exhibition gallop between Rock Diva (Leith Innes) and Sancerre (Vinnie Colgan).

“They worked over 1200 metres in 1:18 and the final 600 in 37,” said Pike. “It was nice even work and they pulled up well. They’re both nominated for the Gold Coast Bracelet on Saturday but Sancerre, like Allez Eagle, hasn’t won much prizemoney so she could miss out.”

If Sancerre does miss a start in the Listed A$125,000 Gold Coast Bracelet (1800m) Pike has a couple of other options. “There’s a 2100-metre three-year-old race at Ipswich the same day and on the Sunday at the Sunshine Coast there is a class three 1800 metres. She’ll get a start in one of them.”

Sancerre has recorded a win and a second (to Beauty’s Beast at Tauranga) from three starts and in the other event, the Listed NZ Bloodstock Insurance Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton, she finished fifth to Madam Victoria.

“She had no luck at all in Christchurch,” said Pike. “That put her on the back foot with prizemoney, She’s a nice, big scopey filly and would be a chance in the Queensland Oaks but she’ll have to win some over there to get in.”

If Sancerre does scrape into the Gold Coast Bracelet she will be ridden by Colgan, while Mark Du Plessis will take over from the suspended Leith Innes on Rock Diva.

Rock Diva has been freshened since her third to Miss Mossman in the Gr. 1 Wellfield NZ Oaks and provided she goes well on Saturday she will run in the Doomben Roses as a lead-up to the Queensland Oaks.

Sacred Star has also been freshened since his last start, when second to Viadana in the Gr. 1 NRM Sprint at Te Rapa last February, and Pike is hoping to sneak into the Gr. 1 A$1.3 million AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 7 fresh-up with the exciting galloper.

“He’ll barrier trial at Doomben on May 13 then have another trial and if he’s flying he could go into the Stradbroke fresh-up,” said Pike. “They go hard in the Stradbroke and that would suit him over 1400. If he doesn’t go for the Stradbroke there’s the QTC Cup and plenty of other races for him.”

Kelly O’Reilly, who finished a gallant second to Shandream at Te Rapa last Saturday, could head to Melbourne for fillies and mares races, while Popeye Braggins, winner of the Harness [email protected] May 31 Premier last weekend, is another possible Melbourne candidate.

“Popeye Braggins is absolutely flying at the moment,” said Pike. “Every time he comes back in, he gets better. He was looking for a mile on Saturday and was off the bit but got a lovely run through and gapped them.

“He’s a type for the Winter Cup (at Riccarton in August) but he’s not really a heavy tracker so it could be a risk waiting for that. I might take him to Melbourne for some open handicaps.”