Tony Pike is bullish about the chances of Tutukaka in Friday’s Taupo Cup (2000m) with the step up in trip on a good surface fuelling his confidence.
The Cambridge trainer also has the capable Field Of Gold in the Harcourts-sponsored feature and while he has been happy with his lead-up work, it’s Tutukaka who gets top billing.
“I think he’s a really good bet. He’s third-up this preparation and his last run was good and just peaked the last bit,” he said.
“They’re going to go like lunatics in this race, they will be running along. He maps to do nothing three back on the fence and if he doesn’t get held up I think he’s a really big chance.
“He will probably go on to the Stayers’ Cup (2200m) on Karaka Million night.”
A two-time Listed winner in Australia, Tutukaka most recently finished sixth over 1600m at Te Rapa where he raced wide without cover and from the inside gate will be ridden by Michael McNab.
Field Of Gold beat one home in the same Te Rapa contest with Vinnie Colgan to again partner last season’s Gr.2 Waikato Guineas (2000m) and Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) placegetter.
“His work has been super and his trials have been good, but he has been disappointing to be fair,” Pike said.
“Hopefully, back up to 2000m on a firm deck we will see an improved performance, but if he does run poorly again he will be out in the paddock.”
Rudyard will be Pike’s sole representative in The Kinloch Country Club Trophy (1300m) with Sam Weatherley aboard while Get Lit, an in-form sister to dual Group One winner Mo’Unga, will be saved for another day.
“She’s been scratched from that wide gate and she’s entered for Tauranga on January 2. She’s a nice filly with upside,” he said.
“Rudyard’s run at Wellington last time was really good and he didn’t go in the ground.
“He’s third-up and heading the right way. He will get back a touch, but if they run along he’s a chance of getting over them late.
“If he wins well, he will probably head to the Wellington Guineas (Gr.2, 1400m).”
Pike will also have a trio of three-year-olds in action at Hastings on Saturday with DiMaggio to be ridden by McNab in the Monstavision Handicap (1600m) and Colgan will partner Patton in the Power Farming Handicap (1200m) and debutante Preferential in the Racing Again 26 January Maiden (1400m).
“I wanted to scratch DiMaggio when the rain came at Te Rapa, but they hadn’t downgraded the track and he was just hopeless on it. Back on a firm surface, I would expect him to go close,” he said.
“Patton is a limited little horse who tries hard and is probably a place chance.”
Pike’s team at Te Rapa on New Year’s Day will include Keenasabean in the Gr.2 Jamieson Park Auckland Guineas (1600m) and Val Di Zoldo in the Gr.2 Elsdon Park Royal Stakes (2000m).
Keenasabean was a tidy last-start maiden winner at Te Rapa and is another to be ridden by McNab.
“The penny hasn’t dropped yet, but he’s a nice staying three-year-old and probably not sharp enough to beat Waitak or Prowess,” Pike said.
“If he could run third or fourth we would be more than happy and he’d be a chance to back up a week late in the Salver (Listed, 2100m) at Pukekohe.
“It’s a bit of a throw at the stumps with Val Di Zoldo with Legarto not in the race.”
To be partnered by Jake Bayliss, Val Di Zoldo has been consistent without winning and was a last-start fourth in the Gr.2 Eight Carat Classic (1600m) on Boxing Day.
“That was probably my fault as I took the blinkers off going up in trip. It was a funny race when Wessex took off and Michael (McNab) went early on our filly and said she lost a bit of focus so the blinkers are back on,” Pike said.
Another good showing is also expected from Rapid Falls in the Gr.3 Windsor Park Stud Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2400m) with Joe Doyle to ride her following their fourth placing in the Gr.3 Waikato Cup (2400m).
“She hates wet ground, the harder the better for her. She’s hitting peak form now and I think she’ll go close to running in the money,” Pike said.