From the Commentary Box – Monday, 25th November 2013


Tony Pike celebrated his 39th birthday in style last Saturday.

The affable local trainer had a field day at the Counties Cup Day training three winners.

Along with training partner Mark Donoghue, Pike saddled up Sacred Star, More Than Sacred and Waterford for success.


Arguably, the most impressive winner on the day was Waterford.

The Darci Brahma mare again showed her class with a stunning win in the Counties Bowl over 1100m.

After a tardy beginning, rider Mark Du Plessis showed commendable patience by settling at the tail of the field.

“She was a bit slow away but the speed was on so I just waited until we straightened up before unleashing her” said Du Plessis later.

When the brakes were released, Waterford produced a stunning burst which saw her quickly gather in the leaders.

It was a performance which left many on course punters shaking their heads.

But Pike was not surprised by what he saw.

“She has been flying in trackwork leading up to this race and even though she got a long way off them, I still thought she’d win” said Pike.

Waterford was sent out a dominant favourite on the strength of an impressive fresh up win at Ellerslie at her previous start.

“She has always shown us she could gallop but what she did today was pretty impressive” said Pike.

Pike said Waterford would be aimed at the Group One Railway Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.

“She deserves a crack at that race after her win today so that’s where she’ll be heading” he said.

Judging on what we saw last Saturday, Waterford would be a huge winning chance.


The other two winners for the Pike / Donoghue combination continued the wonderful success of Raffles Farm.

The Bruce Sherwin managed racing and breeding juggernaut, have had stunning successes over the past two years.

After the wins of Sacred Star and, in particular, More Than Sacred indicated more success is forthcoming.

More Than Sacred who won last year’s NZ Oaks, showed she will be a contender for some of the major staying races over the summer.

Given a gun ride by Leith Innes, More Than Sacred toyed with her opposition when winning over 2400m.

After enjoying a lovely run just in behind the leaders, More Than Sacred quickly pounced on the leaders with 400m to go.

“She was travelling like a winner all the way” said Innes on dismounting.

Pike was thrilled with the win for another reason.

“She has a chink in her armour and that is her ability to race this right handed way” explained Pike.

“Today she was a lot better, not perfect, but a lot better than she has been previously” Pike added.

Staying is obviously her forte and More Than Sacred will be right in the mix for more staying glory over the next few months.


Sacred Star was also impressive when winning over 1600m .

Again with Leith Innes in the saddle, Sacred Star fought bravely to hold off Urban Angel.

The in form rider gave Sacred Star a lovely run in transit before hitting the lead with 300m to go.

“I like the way this horse fights, he just never gives in” said Innes.

Pike will continue to take Sacred Star through the grades and he looks a galloper capable of higher honours.


There is an interesting aside to the memorable day birthday boy Tony Pike enjoyed at Counties last Saturday.

I doubt if Pike will have to buy a beer at a couple of local watering holes in Cambridge after his successful day.

Pike is a member of two Punter’s Clubs run by the two local establishments.

In an uncanny coincidence, it was Pike’s turn to make the selections for both Punter’s Clubs last Saturday.

Pike outlayed his betting pool by taking multi bets on his three winners.

The returns were considerable for both clubs.

Needless to say Tony Pike won’t have to “touch his kick” for a little while.

I’ll catch you later.