A trans-Tasman association dating back 15 years has come up trumps with another promising three-year-old prospect in Matter Of Honour, who will chase his fourth win on the bounce at Te Rapa on Saturday.
The son of Pride Of Dubai has been in fine touch this preparation and will bid to add a first black type victory to his burgeoning record when he steps out in the Listed Trevor & Coralie Eagle Memorial (1500m).
Matter Of Honour is trained at Cambridge by Tony Pike for Sydney businessman Colin Keane and following a debut fifth last season has returned from a break to reel off wins at Avondale, Rotorua and Awapuni.
“He’s a really nice type, a big, strong horse and I’ve always liked him. He was a bit new and green in his first couple of runs this prep and he’s really starting to put it all together now,” Pike said.
Matter Of Honour was purchased out of Curraghmore’s draft at New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sale for $80,000.
“This is the first horse Colin has raced in New Zealand for about three years, obviously COVID took care of that, and we bought this bloke last year,” Pike said.
“Colin’s business in Australia is called Eagle Plumbing Supplies and we’ve had a bit of luck together with Allez Eagle, Huka Eagle and Vinnie Eagle. He’s had some pretty handy ones.
“He used to race his horses with the Eagle suffix and this one is the first one that hasn’t.”
His initial contact with Keane dates back to 2007 with the sale of a Ruakaka maiden winner.
“Many, many years he bought a horse off me, Enzedex Eagle, and he ended up as quite a handy staying horse,” Pike said.
The son of High Yield won a further five races in Australia from Chris Waller’s stable, including the Listed Manion Cup (2400m).
“The first horse he had with me was Allez Eagle. I bought him at the sales and Colin wandered past and said I quite like him,” Pike said.
“He asked if I had an owner for the horse and that’s how he ended up with him and the association has kept ticking quietly away ever since then.”
By Guillotine, Allez Eagle won eight races including the Gr.3 Kelt Memorial (1400m) and finished runner-up in the Gr.1 Railway Stakes (1200m) and the Gr.1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m). He ended his racing days in Macau, as did Huka Eagle.
He won on three occasions for Pike and ran third in the Gr.1 Levin Classic (1600m) while Vinnie Eagle also won three races, including the Gr.3 Eclipse Stakes (1200m). He was subsequently sold to Hong Kong where he doubled his winning tally.
Their latest success story Matter Of Honour has improved his racing manners with race day experience.
“He has wanted to do things upside down and went a bit keenly in to start off with,” Pike said.
“In his last couple of runs he has learned to relax a lot better and at Awapuni he was the most professional he has been.
“He should continue to progress through the grades pretty well. There are so many nice three-year-old options coming up and we’ll take it one at a time.
“Obviously, he is entered in the New Zealand Derby (Gr.1, 2400m), but whether he will get that sort of trip we’ll find out in due course.”
Pike will have up to six representatives at Te Rapa on Saturday, depending on the state of the going.
“Not Guilty is in the 1100m race and she’s progressive and I’ll have a few others in the graded races if the track is reasonable,” he said.
The Not A Single Doubt four-year-old overcame a wide run to successfully resume last time out at Pukekohe for her second career victory.
Not Guilty has also placed twice, including a runner-up finish at Trentham last season behind subsequent Golden Eagle winner I Wish I Win.