IN Racing
Proven Harlow Rocks gets the nod from trainer
Tony Pike has tipped Harlow Rocks as the stable’s best chance of stakes success at Taupo on Friday.
Paul Vettise, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | March 07, 2024
Harlow Rocks will contest the Gr.2 Little Avondale Lowland Stakes (2000m) at Taupo on Friday. Photo: Peter Rubery (Race Images Palmerston North)

Tony Pike has tipped Harlow Rocks as the stable’s best chance of stakes success at Taupo on Friday.

The Cambridge trainer will be represented by the in-form Roc de Cambes filly and the promising Sign Of Peace in take two of the Gr.2 Little Avondale Lowland Stakes (2000m) following the abandonment of last week’s Hastings meeting.

“That was very disappointing the other day, but they both need a lead-up to the New Zealand Oaks (Gr.1, 2400m) so we’ll head to Taupo and see how we go,” Pike said.

To be ridden again by Ryan Elliot, Harlow Rocks produced a strong front-running performance last time out to finish runner-up to Molly Bloom in the Gr.2 David & Karyn Ellis Fillies’ Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa.

“She’s got the runs on the board and she puts herself up on speed and the Taupo track should suit her,” Pike said.

“She is clearly the favoured one and Sign Of Peace stepping up to 2000m will help her, but she is jumping up in class so we’ll find out where she fits in.”

Preferment’s daughter Sign Of Peace broke her maiden two runs back at Te Rapa under Michael McNab, who rides her again, and with placings from her other three appearances has made an encouraging start to her career.

Harlow Rocks is currently an $8 equal third favourite in the market for the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks at Trentham on Saturday-week with Sign Of Peace at $41.

“Ideally, it would be nice to get them both there as long as they race well and pull up well,” Pike said.

He also has another promising three-year-old in action at Taupo with Witz End to step out in the NZB Insurance (1300m) and Sam Weatherley will continue his association with the unbeaten son of Savabeel.

“He is a really nice horse and is still a bit new and green, but he has been impressive in his first two starts,” Pike said.

“He has taken good improvement out of both runs and we’re hoping to get to the Wellington Guineas (Gr.2, 1400m) with him. Should he win again or run well, that will be the next option.”

Pike also has in-form contenders in Archaic Smile and Poetic Champion chasing top honours in Saturday’s Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie.

Archaic Smile boxed on well to run fifth in the Gr.2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) after racing three deep without cover and Poetic Champion overcame a wide gate, albeit in a small field, to finish runner-up in the Gr.3 Matamata Slipper (1200m).

McNab partners Archaic Smile while Per-Anders Graberg guides Poetic Champion’s fortunes.

“I’m really happy with both of them and their work on Tuesday was very impressive,” Pike said.

“They are both drawn to get much softer runs than they got at Matamata where they had tough trips and ran well considering.

“The two favourites (Velocious and Captured By Love) look hard to beat, but I’m sure my two will run extremely well and there’s not a lot between them.”

Pike is also upbeat about the chances of last-start Pukekohe winer Hat Trick in the Thank You To The NZB Kiwi Slot Holders (1400m).

“He’s a promising horse going forward and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win again,” Pike said.

“We’ve got nice each way chances at Taupo and Ellerslie and with an ounce of luck we can hopefully get a few winners.”

Harlow Rocks Tony Pike Archaic Smile Poetic Champion Witz End sign of the peace