Star jockey William Pike believes Taksu gives him his best chance of saluting in what will be a bumper afternoon of rides at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Pike will compete in eight of the 10 races scheduled for Queensland Derby Day, and he has plenty of confidence in Joe Pride’s six-year-old for the $250,000 BRC Sprint (1300m).
The $6.50 winning chance with Ladbrokes has triumphed in two of his past three starts – both worth $130,000 – at Randwick and Rosehill, respectively.
“Taksu is one of my main rides for the day. He’s flying and in great form,” Pike told HorseBetting.com.au.
“All of his form has been on really heavy tracks. That’s my only slight concern.
“He’ll probably strike a much better track up there. But he’s a fantastic ride to pick up and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Pike also has a high impression on Sheeza Belter ($18 for Peter and Paul Snowden) heading into the $1 million BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m).
“I think she does (have a good future), and I think she’s a horse to follow even for next time,” he said of the two-year-old filly with two wins from five starts, including the $250,000 Magic Millions WA 2YO Classic (1200m) at Pinjarra Park on February 6.
After a disappointing 10th in the $1 million Percy Sykes Stakes at Randwick on April 9, Sheeza Belter showed a lot of improvement with Pike in the saddle to finish third last start in the $150,000 Ken Russell Memorial Classic at Gold Coast Turf Club on May 7.
Both were also over 1200m.
“She didn’t race that well first-up, and then she took a few good steps in the right direction second-up,” Pike said.
“So if she can take those steps again for the weekend it would be good.
“I’ve drawn sticky (barrier 15) and it’s a really tough field, but I’m really happy riding her.
“And whatever happens I know she’ll be hitting the line hard.”
Pike conceded Zaaki deserves his $1.40 favouritism for the $1 million Doomben Cup, with his staying mount Great House for Chris Waller given generous odds of $31.
But you can never write off champion mentor Waller’s credentials, particularly in the Doomben Cup – he’s won three of them.
Waller is aiming to join Lee Freedman as the most successful Doomben Cup trainer with four victories.
And he is a chance of challenging Annabel Neasham’s superstar seven-year-old, with three stablemates in the feature.
They are Kukeracha ($14), Yonkers ($26) and Polly Grey ($9), set to join five-year-old Great House at the starting barriers.
“Great House – it’s always nice to pick up a ride for the Waller camp. Zaaki is awfully hard to beat, but hopefully we can pull a rabbit out of the hat and give him a scare,” Pike said.
Pike will take a winner’s feeling into Saturday after showing all his nous to win on the line with Aspen Chase for Paul Perry in a $35,000 Benchmark 64 Handicap (1100m) at Gosford on Thursday.
Adios Steve for Allan Denham was a nose behind in second place.
“It was a good battle. They’re always good, especially when you come out as the victor,” Pike said.
“I suppose your experience helps. I’ve been in that situation a few times. Sometimes it’s tempting to do too much, or not enough.
“I’m just trying to find that balance, which is the key.”
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