All eyes on Not An Option

Not An Option
Not An Option will contest the Group 1 Champagne Stakes on Saturday. Photo: Race Images Palmerston North

Not An Option will be carrying the weight of his stable when he contests the Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday. The promising two-year-old has become the only active runner for Cambridge trainer Tony Pike and he is hoping his charge can deliver on Saturday.

The son of Not A Single Doubt pleased his connections with his first-up effort in Australia when placing in the Group 3 Kindergarten Stakes (1100m) at Randwick a fortnight ago and Pike said he has pulled up well since that run. “We were really pleased with his run in the Kindergarten,” Pike said. “Over the 1100m, from the outside gate and to go back to last, it was always going to be a bit sharp for him. He was very strong over the final stages.

“Reports are really good and he has bounced through it in great order. “He galloped on the course proper at Rosehill this (Tuesday) morning with an older country cups horse and worked really well over 1200m. “Apparently he has pulled up very well. As long as we are happy with him over the next 24 hours he will line-up in the Champagne Stakes on Saturday.”

Not An Option hasn’t been tested over further than 1200m, but Pike believes the mile will be ideal for him on Saturday. “He is bred to get over a little bit of a trip and we have always thought once he can stretch out over further it would really suit,” Pike said. “It gives him a chance at a Group 1 race in Australia and improved track conditions will help him on Saturday as well. “It doesn’t look like being a big field, but there is a fair bit of quality in it.”

While Pike is looking forward to Saturday he said a further Group 1 target awaits Not An Option in Queensland. “If he runs well on Saturday we will probably wait and go straight into the JJ Atkins (Group 1, 1600m) in Brisbane. “That will give him time to get over the trip up there and I might just give him a quiet barrier trial in Brisbane before the JJ Atkins.”

Meanwhile, the autumn campaigns of Pike’s two other Australian raiders The Bostonian and Sherwood Forest have come to an end.

The Bostonian was recently transferred to John O’Shea’s Randwick barn, but after consulting with Pike the decision was made to spell the five-year-old gelding. The son of Jimmy Choux had a near perfect campaign having won the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) first-up last month before a solid runner-up effort in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m).

“We have just decided to pull pin on him,” Pike said. “Talking with John, he wasn’t 100 percent happy with him since he arrived. “That last run might just have taken a bit out of him, it was a pretty good performance. “We are just erring on the side of caution and have decided to send him to the spelling paddock. “He had done a great job in his two runs over there. We will bring him home and we will set him up for the Winx Stakes (Group 1, 1400m) in Sydney at the end of August.”

Sherwood Forest will join his stablemate in the spelling paddock after a successful campaign which included victory in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) before finishing unplaced in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) after a tough run. “It was a very tough run for him in the Derby, but he never gave it away,” Pike said.

“He has had a long, hard season and has done a great job for us. He will head to the spelling paddock and will come back to New Zealand when we are able to get them back on a plane. “He will have a nice, long spell. We won’t be in too much of a rush in the spring and we will look at targeting a nice race over the summer months and upping our sights heading into the autumn as a four-year-old.”

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