Cambridge trainer Tony Pike picked up a winning double at Te Rapa last Saturday and he was at it again at Ruakaka just seven days later where he produced tough two-year-old filly Pacific Dragon and veteran River Run for a similar result.
Well credentialled Charm Spirit filly Pacific Dragon showed her undoubted class as she overcame the outside barrier (11) to lead throughout in the final of the ITM/GIB Two-year-old Winter Championship series.
Rider Michael McNab pushed the button on the filly after she dwelt slightly as the gates opened and sent her straight to the front where she dictated the speed from eventual runner-up Belthil.
Despite being hotly challenged in the run home, Pacific Dragon dug deep to repel the challenge of Belthil by just under a length with Mighty Bright running on well for third.
“She is a pretty talented galloper and she had footed it with the best two-year-olds in the summer, running fifth in the Karaka Million (1200m) as well as being relegated to second behind Wolverine in the Eclipse Stakes (Gr.2, 1200m),” Pike said.
“She got beaten first up here last month, but I think she resented the kickback that day when Michael took a trail on her.
“Today he took the initiative and went forward and with the on-pace bias that there seems to be, she was a little too good for them in the run home.”
Pacific Dragon carries the colours of Swettenham Stud after being purchased by Victorian trainer Henry Dwyer out of Windsor Park Stud’s draft at the 2021 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale for $70,000.
Pike is mindful of his charge heading across to Dwyer at some stage in the spring but in the meantime will try to add winning black type to her record.
“At this stage we could head to the Ryder Stakes (Listed, 1200m) at Otaki at the end of the month to see if we can get a stakes win with her,” Pike said.
“I keep in regular touch with Henry and Swettenham Stud, but at this stage they are happy keeping her here for a while longer.
“She could also contest one of those early three-year-old races at Hastings during the spring, but we will have a round table with everyone after she gets through the Ryder.”
Pike was also confident of a winning performance from River Run in the ITM/GIB Whangarei Gold Cup Stayers’ Final (2100m) after the rising eight-year-old had won well at Te Rapa over a mile last weekend.
“The old boy is going better than ever and is a very happy horse at the moment,” he said.
“His win last week was very good and I couldn’t see why punters had deserted him as he ended up paying better than $17.
“He relished the 2100m and when he was sitting handy turning for home, I thought he would be hard to beat.
“He will back up in the Taumarunui Gold Cup (2100m) at Te Rapa on July 30 and he should go well again the way he is handling his racing at the moment.”
River Run is raced by Matt and Mandy Browne under their Ngapuke Racing banner and has now won five of his 35 starts for the pair.