Pike happy going into Telegraph

Vinnie Colgan showing his delight in winning his first Telegraph Handicap on Sacred Star. (Photo: Race Images).

Vinnie Colgan showing his delight in winning last year’s Telegraph Handicap on Sacred Star. (Photo: Race Images).

Contrasting draws face the Tony Pike-trained duo in the Gr. 1 $250,000 J.R. & N. Berkett Telegraph Handicap at Trentham on Saturday, but the Cambridge trainer isn’t concerned.

Sacred Star, an impressive winner of last year’s Telegraph, has drawn nicely at barrier five, but stablemate Allez Eagle, who was narrowly beaten by Ryan Mark in the Gr. 1 Sistema Railway Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day, has to contend with the outside draw in the 1200-metre feature.

“It’s a nice draw for Sacred Star and there should be an even speed so Vinnie (Colgan) should be able to park him up wherever he’s comfortable,” said Pike. “As for Allez Eagle, he’s drawn out in the carpark, but at the end of the day it’s not so bad at Trentham with the dog leg and long straight. It would be different if it was Ellerslie. It’s not ideal but not the end of the world.

“Danielle (Johnson) will roll forward on him and most the speed looks out wide so she can decide whether he goes to the front or takes a sit.

“I’m happy with both horses. It’s not long since they ran in the Railway so it’s just been a case of maintaining their fitness.”

Sacred Star was inconvenienced by the slow7 track in the Railway and under the circumstances did exceptionally well to finish as close as he did (two lengths from the winner, Ryan Mark, in fourth placing).

“He’d been seven months without a run and he was going backwards on the corner,” said Pike. “It wasn’t until he got out wide that he got going again and he hit the line well.

“If the track had been good, I’d say he would have won it.”

Sacred Star won last year’s Telegraph Handicap by four lengths then trekked to Te Rapa and also won the Gr. 1 NRM Sprint. That is the path he will again take provided he does well on Saturday.

Allez Eagle will receive 3kg from Sacred Star (59kg) on Saturday and he rates a huge chance, even from his wide draw. He was fresh-up from his fourth in the Gr. 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile when he contested the Railway and went down by a neck.

Pike also has four other acceptors at Trentham with the most interest of the quartet focused on Rangipo in the Gr. 1 Woodridge Homes Levin Classic, in which he will take on the exciting Xtravagant.

“We’ve got to work out how we can somehow beat Xtravagant, but hopefully he’ll give him a bit of a fright,” said Pike. “I couldn’t be happier with him. His work has been first-class since he won at Ellerslie.”

Rangipo has won four of his last six starts, topped off with his sound win in the Gr. 2 The Hits Great Northern Guineas (1600m) at Ellerslie. Beforehand he was a handy fourth to Tavago in the Gr. 3 Fasttrackinsurance Wellington Stakes at Otaki.

“Provided he goes well on Saturday he’ll head to either the Avondale or Waikato Guineas before the Derby,” said Pike.

Pike’s other runners at Trentham on Saturday are Snowdrop, Flying Ibis and Chenelle who all rate chances.