It will be a rare occurrence for Tony Pike on Saturday when he heads to Avondale to line-up five runners.
With Ellerslie out of action with the installation of a StrathAyr track, the rarely utilised Avondale track has been called upon to take up some of the slack left by the absence of its Auckland contemporary.
“Back at Avondale is something a little different, it hasn’t been happening for a while,” Pike said.
“Getting back on a new track will be good considering a lot of the other tracks have had plenty of work over the last couple of years.
“We are going to be under pressure through winter and into the spring with tracks and the extra workload on some of the others, so it is good to be back at Avondale.”
Pike’s charge will be led on Saturday by promising juvenile Patton who will contest the Auckland Alarms (1300m).
The son of Shamexpress won on debut before running seventh in the Gr.3 Platinum Homes 2YO Classic (1200m).
“He raced in a stakes race at Te Rapa and didn’t handle the softer track that day. Admittedly it was up in class but he really floundered in the ground,” Pike said.
“Back on a better track surface on Saturday, I think he will find a much-improved run.”
Patton will be joined in his race on Saturday by stablemate and debutant Leica Model.
“Leica Model is a really nice staying filly in the making,” Pike said.
“Both of her last two trials have been good. She will probably drift back from that wide gate (10) and I am sure she will hit the line strongly.
“She is definitely one to follow.”
Consistent galloper Tellall will line-up in the Western Lock Services (1200m) in a fresh state and Pike said he is due a win.
“We had a little hiccup and had to scratch him in his last start,” Pike said.
“He curbed a hock in his box unfortunately but he has recovered from that. 1200m in a fresh state shouldn’t be too much of a concern and he is definitely due a win.”
Pike will also line-up Doubtful Sound in the Bryan Jackson Memorial (1600m) and Double O’Seven in the National Security (1600m).
“Doubtful Sound has been a bit of an enigma,” Pike said. “He is a very talented galloper on the training track and in his trials.
“I will just forgive him his last start, I think the Counties track was a lot wetter than the Dead4 they put up.
“The jockeys were saying it was closer to slow. He is a real firm track horse, so if he gets that tomorrow he will improve a lot from that last start.
“Double O’Seven is a bit of a work in progress but his last run was quite good after doing a lot of work early. I think he is one to follow next preparation but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him go close tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Pike will keep a close eye on Awapuni where Providence Provides will line-up in the Listed Bramco Granite & Marble Flying Stakes (1400m).
“She has had the one trial and she is a better mare left-handed, so we have targeted this race fresh-up,” Pike said.
“It has come up a pretty strong field. She gets in on the minimum (54kg) and she is never far away in these sort of races.”