IN Racing
Pike all smiles with Group One contender
"Our filly has been close up in all the good races and I’m sure she’ll run well again on Saturday."
Paul Vettise, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | April 03, 2024
Archaic Smile will chase Group One glory in the Gr.1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Trentham on Saturday. Photo: Race Images PN

Tony Pike is confident of another bold showing on Saturday from Archaic Smile at Trentham where she has already enjoyed black type success.

The Cambridge trainer can’t fault his daughter of Saxon Warrior who will attempt to turn the tables on Velocious in the Gr.1 Courtesy Ford Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m).

Archaic Smile finished a gallant second behind this season’s leading juvenile in the Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie and Pike is sure his charge will again press the issue at the weekend.

“She has been consistent all season and she worked well at Ellerslie in an exhibition gallop with Full Force and she’ll be right in the finish,” he said.

“Obviously, there are three or four good two-year-olds with Velocious the benchmark, but our filly has been close up in all the good races and I’m sure she’ll run well again on Saturday.

“She is a tough filly and eats well and she’s handled everything well and winning at Trentham (Listed, Wellesley Stakes, 1100m) is always an advantage and I think she’ll run a strong 1400m.”

Pike is currently in Sydney carrying out inspections ahead of the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale on April 7-8 and will be at Randwick on Saturday for Witz End’s Australian debut in the Gr.3 HKJC World Pool Frank Packer Plate (1600m) with James McDonald booked for the ride.

“They are talking about a lot of rain on Friday and Saturday morning, but he will probably have to run, it’s a race we targeted after the Wellington Guineas (Gr.2, 1400m),” he said.

“It looks the ideal race for him, but it will be a bit of a mystery if he handles the track.

“We’ll have to wait and see what happens and we’ll decide afterwards whether he runs in the Frank Packer Plate (Gr.3, 2000m) two weeks’ later.”

The winner of two of his four starts, Witz End finished runner-up in the Guineas at Trentham and travelled without incident to Sydney.

Archaic Smile aside, Pike will also be represented at Trentham by Val Di Zoldo in the Gr.3 Martin Collins New Zealand Manawatu Breeders’ Stakes (2100m) and Investigate in the Gr.3 Higgins Concrete Manawatu Classic (2100m).

War Decree four-year-old Val Di Zoldo was also nominated for the Gr.2 City Of Palmerston North Awapuni Gold Cup (2100m).

“She will have more weight in the fillies and mares but it looks a better fit for her,” Pike said.

“It doesn’t look an overly strong race and she’s knocking on the door and looks like a race she will be competitive in.”

Last season’s Gr.2 Lowland Stakes (2100m) winner has finished third in her last two appearances at Matamata and Ellerslie.

Investigate stepped up to a middle distance at his latest outing and the Dundeel three-year-old thumped his rivals.

“It’s a big step up in class for him, but he’ll stay better than most as he showed at New Plymouth,” Pike said.

“It was a weak field, but he did it nicely and deserves his chance.”

Meanwhile, Rudyard won’t follow through on his nomination in the Listed Bramco Granite & Marble Flying Handicap (1400m) in favour of a start closer to home.

“He’s been very consistent but with the compression of the weights meant Michael (McNab) couldn’t ride him,” Pike said.

“We’ve changed tack and he’ll go to Counties as a lead-up to the Easter Handicap (Gr.3, 1600m) in two weeks’ time.” 

Archaic Smile Tony Pike Witz End James McDonald Rudyard Val Di Zoldo Gr.3 Manco Easter Handicap Saxon Warrior