Two-pronged Champagne Stakes bid

Cambridge trainers Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue will stage a two-pronged attack on the Listed $50,000 Novotel Champagne Stakes at Ellerslie on Saturday.

The stable will be represented in the country’s sole 1600-metre juvenile event by last-start winner Waterford and the promising Sentorial.

Waterford was bred and is raced by the VTW Breeding Company Ltd, which consists of Pike and his parents, Vicki and Wayne, while Sentorial races in the ownership of Raffles Dancers (NZ) Pty Ltd.

Waterford, a half-sister to Roger James’ stakeswinner Veronica Franco, has shown promise from the outset, winning an 800-metre trial at Cambridge last November then finishing an encouraging third behind Oasis
Rose on debut 11 days later at Te Rapa.

Pike believes Waterford has come a long way since that debut effort and that showed when she reappeared at the Cambridge trials last month and won then followed up with a big effort to score at Te Rapa. In the latter outing she got into trouble early, ended up back and widest on the home turn then charged to the finish to win by a length and a quarter from Epicurean, who will again be a rival on Saturday.

“She’s a big, scopey filly and not a natural two-year-old,” said Pike. “She’s going to be a better three-year-old, but this is the last opportunity for her to earn some black type this year. And I don’t think the jump up to a mile will worry her.”

Waterford has been ridden in each of her outings by Chad Ormsby, but with that rider retiring after last Saturday’s Te Aroha meeting the mount this weekend will go to Leith Innes.

Though unsuccessful yet in three starts, Sentorial has also shown promise for Pike and Donoghue, having picked up three placings, all at Pukekohe. She was fourth on debut, then second to Swiper The Fox and third last start behind Mato Grosso. Both Swiper The Fox and Mato Grosso are also entered for the Champagne Stakes.

“She’s a tough, honest filly and is she draws well she’s a place chance,” said Pike.