Cambridge trainer Tony Pike has changed tack with Group Two winner Field Of Gold following his fifth place finish in Saturday’s Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) won by impressive filly La Crique.
The son of Starspangledbanner was beaten less than six lengths after setting the tempo for much of the contest, but a regression in trip is now more likely than a tilt at the Group 1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) on March 5.
“Field of Gold was solid, but I doubt he will stay the Derby trip,” Pike said.
“That was D-day for him on Saturday. He didn’t go overly quick, it was a good honest run but to be fair I think he is going to struggle with the mile and a half.
“He will probably be freshened up and either head for the WFA 2000m race at Ellerslie (Group 1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes, 2000m) or alternatively the Levin Classic (Group 1, 1600m).
“We will make our mind up with that over the next week to ten days.”
Pike will still have Derby representation with Tutukaka to take his place in a fortnight.
The son of Tavistock closed reasonably for eighth on Saturday after getting back to last and Michael McNab will take the ride, having hitherto been linked to Field Of Gold.
Tutukaka had previously finished second in the Karaka Million 3YO Classic (1600m) and would relish a Derby with good pace.
“In the Karaka Million he landed midfield and they went along at a very solid tempo that day,” Pike said.
“Given a decent barrier draw, he could easily slot into the first five or six in running.”
Pike was full of praise for the Simon & Katrina Alexander-trained La Crique and said she would take some beating in the Derby.
“I think she is as good a filly that has contested the Derby in a long time. She is probably a filly in that Silent Achiever class,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pike is looking forward to Saturday where he is likely to have a handful of runners at Matamata including juveniles Stimulant (Group 3 Fairview Matamata Slipper, 1200m) and Pacific Dragon (Group 2 J Swap Contractors Ltd Matamata Breeders’ Stakes, 1200m), with the latter finishing fifth in the Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) despite a tardy beginning.
Pacific Dragon had previously been relegated to second when first past-the-post in the Group 2 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
“Pacific Dragon had a week in the paddock and is good,” Pike said.
“It was a good honest run in the Karaka Million. She is probably a length or two off the best couple of fillies, but she is very genuine and honest, and it was a good run considering she walked out of the gates.
“We will run at Matamata and see the lay of the land. It would be nice to win a stakes race for her connections — we have, and lost it.
“This will tell us whether we press on to the Manawatu Sires’ (Group 1, 1400m) or give her a little freshen up and try and snag a Listed race heading into the autumn.”