Rippa result for Pike stable

Rippa Eagle (Michael McNab) fighting on between Prise De Fer (inner) and In A Twinkling on his way to being awarded victory in the inquiry room at Ellerslie today. Third placed Tolemac is charging down the outer.

Luck went against Rippa Eagle over the final stages of his Ellerslie assignment today, but he was awarded the win which keeps him on the path to the Gr.1 $1 million Vodafone New Zealand Derby on the same course on March 2.

The favourite Prise De Fer was first past the winning post in the Monstavision 1600 in a blanket finish, beating Rippa Eagle by a short head with the same margin back to Australian visitor Tolemac with a mere nose to fourth-placed In A Twinkling.

Prise De Fer had burst between runners halfway down the home straight and had looked set for victory until he shied outwards with 50m to run and cannoned into Rippa Eagle with a domino effect resulting in In A Twinkling (on his outer) cannoning into Tolemac.

It was obvious an inquiry would be held and the siren sounded even before the horses had returned to the birdcage.

The Cambridge three-year-old Rippa Eagle, ridden by Michael McNab, had raced in fourth spot and edged closer approaching the home turn then after appearing to hit a flat spot early in the run home he mounted a solid finish and was coming back hard at Prise De Fer when the interference occurred.

A protest from each of the three runners behind Prise De Fer saw the Judicial Committee determine sufficient interference had occurred to warrant a change of placings and after lengthy deliberations Rippa Eagle was promoted to first with Prise De Fer relegated to second and the other placegetters retained their finishing positions.

Trainer Tony Pike was obviously pleased with the final result which took Rippa Eagle’s record to two wins and a second from just five starts.

Rippa Eagle cleared maiden ranks in his previous start, over 1400m at Tauranga on January 2, when getting home by a nose from Qiji Crystal and Pike believes he will appreciate more ground than the 1600m today.

“He’s a big, scopey horse who we’ve had a bit of time for, but he has been a bit of a slow learner along the way,” he said.

“The penny has dropped of late and he was good winning his maiden last time at Tauranga, although he still did a fair bit wrong.

“A few gear changes have sorted that out. However, it was a big step up today from a midweek maiden to a small but quality field.

“He was very brave over the concluding stages as he got a decent bump from the winner then cannoned off the one outside him, so to stick on augurs well for his future.

“Once we got in the (judicial) room and saw the footage it was pretty clear-cut that there would be a change of placings.”

Pike has the Rip Van Winkle gelding nominated for the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) and he is keen to press on to the race.

“I think he will only get better over ground,” he said.

“There is plenty of staying blood in his extended family and he has always appealed as the type to go over ground.

“We have him nominated for the Derby back here in March, so if he comes through this race well, we will press on.”

Rippa Eagle is the second foal of O’Reilly mare Penny Whistle, who is also the dam of Treasure, a Listed winner for Pike over 1800m last season. His grand-dam is the useful staying mare Seraphic, who won eight races and was Group One placed in the New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie.

A Reliable Man filly from Penny Whistle will be offered as Lot 291 from the Hallmark Stud draft in Book 1 at the National Yearling Sale at Karaka.