Stable on stakes mission

Cambridge trainers Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue have a very interesting weekend ahead.

The pair will be chasing black type events at Rotorua tomorrow and Te Rapa on Monday. The stable representative will run the unlucky Aspinal in the Listed $50,000 Lion Red Plate, a weight-for-age 1200 metres at Rotorua, while exciting youngster Sacred Falls and stablemate Waterford will clash in the Group III $70,000 James and Annie Sarten Memorial (1400m) at the Waikato Racing Club meeting.

Most attention will naturally be focused on Sacred Falls, who produced an unbelievable effort to maintain his unbeaten record when easily winning the Gr. 2 DHL Global Hawke’s Bay Guineas at Hastings after knuckling over at the start.

After such an ordeal there was obviously some concern Sacred Falls may have suffered an injury when spreading himself, but Pike says he has shown no cause for concern.

“We had the chiropractor out on the Tuesday to check him over and he was fine apart from some minor stiffness issues,” said Pike. “He came through it surprisingly well. His work on Tuesday morning was fantastic.”

The James and Annie Sarten Memorial is, as Pike puts it, “a hot field” and Sacred Falls will be the horse to beat.

“He looks the best colt among the three-year-olds, but he hasn’t run up against the best fillies yet. He’ll get his chance on Monday.”

A change of plans has seen Waterford entered for the James and Annie Sarten Memorial after the original intention was to send her to Trentham rather than have her clash with Sacred Falls.

“But Wellington has had wet tracks for the past few years and we don’t want to go all that way and risk it,” said Pike. “She’s very well and after this will head to Riccarton for the One Thousand Guineas.”

Before focusing on Sacred Falls and Waterford, Pike and Donoghue will be concentrating on Aspinal and stablemates Best Command and Kelly O’Reilly at Rotorua.

Aspinal will face Veyron, a strong late entry, in the Lion Red Plate as well as the inform warhorse Fritzy Boy, Antonio Lombardo and Kekova.

Aspinal was an unlucky second to Fritzy Boy last start and will be attempting to finally win a stakes race. She is currently in foal to Zabeel and Pike says she is thriving and ready to run another big race on Saturday.

Best Command should appreciate the drop in class to a Rating 65 event after a game fourth to Misstrum in the Listed Macleans Soliloquy Stakes at Ellerslie last start. Beforehand she was third in the Listed Fordell O’Leary Fillies Stakes at Wanganui.

Kelly O’Reilly is a candidate for the three-year-old 1200 metres at Rotorua and is also a last-start runner in the Macleans Soliloquy Stakes, in which she finished eighth. In her only other start she won well at Taupo.