Strong Gold Trail Stakes hand for Tony Pike

Tony Pike will line-up Loire (pictured) and Kali in the Gr.3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders’ Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings on Saturday. Photo: Trish Dunell

Cambridge trainer Tony Pike is feeling double-happy leading into Saturday’s Gr.3 Hawke’s Bay Breeders’ Gold Trail Stakes (1200m) at Hastings.

Pike will saddle promising fillies Kali and Loire in the three-year-old fillies sprint, both coming off terrific age-group performances on the first day of the carnival.

Kali was promoted to win the 1100m three-year-old fillies race to retain her unbeaten record from two starts, while Loire closed nicely for third in the Listed Sir Colin Means Trophy (1200m) against the male three-year-olds, whose number included impressive winner and subsequent Gr.3 Northland Breeders’
Stakes winner Catalyst.

Darci Brahma filly Kali endured a chequered run in the straight and was later promoted from second at the expense of winner and Gold Trail rival Jennifer Eccles.

“For a three-year-old filly having only her second start, it got pretty tight there but she kept bulldozing her way through and she only just missed before she got it in the room,” Pike said.

“It’s an unfortunate way to win a race but Leith (Innes, winning jockey) was pretty confident that if she’d clear air she would have won easily.   She was pretty fresh that day and over-raced in the trail a wee bit. 

“She went to Te Rapa last Thursday and Troy (Harris, Kali’s rider on Saturday) galloped her. She worked extremely well in company with Loire.  She’ll improve a lot off that first-up run. 

“She’s got a perfect gate (barrier seven) and she’s a pretty promising filly. She’ll be extremely competitive barring bad luck.

“I can’t fault her condition. Her weight has held well, her work has been great and her coat is starting to come through so we’re pretty confident heading into the weekend.”

TAB bookmakers have installed Kali as a $3.70 favourite ahead of Group One performer Aretha and Jennifer Eccles as equal $6 second favourites and Loire on the third line of betting at $8.50.

Pike was happy with Redoute’s Choice filly Loire but said she was already looking for more distance.

“We hummed and harred whether we ran her in the Gold Trail. I’ve always said 1200m was a touch sharp for her and you probably saw that last start that she got a bit lost when they quickened but closed off really well behind Catalyst,” he said.

“But she’s back in her own sex against the fillies and we’ve put the blinkers on just for this one run, just to sharpen her up a bit. She worked extremely well last Thursday. 

“She’ll probably settle back from that wide gate and if they do go hard, she’ll be getting home very strongly late.”

Pike has both fillies aimed at the Gr.1 1000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton on November 16, the pair likely to use the Gr.3 Partners Life Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) at Ellerslie on October 26 as their lead-up.

Meanwhile, Pike has made new plans for last month’s Gr.2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) winner Endless Drama after a hoof abscess ruled him out of Saturday’s Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at Hastings.

“We’ve been battling a foot issue with him. He’s never had the best feet and on Wednesday morning just before withdrawals he was significantly lame and we popped a foot abscess,” Pike said.

“Just with the firm track coming up on Saturday, it was just going to be pushing it a bit too hard to get there in perfect order. We’ll give him a short break and he’ll freshen up and we’ll probably take him to the Winterbottom (Gr.1, 1200m) fresh-up in Perth on the 30th of November.”

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