The Group 1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) remains on Pareanui Bay’s radar, although Cambridge trainer Tony Pike does admit to reservations about the Classic being his most suitable autumn target.
Pareanui Bay has excelled in a brief career to date and will bid to add to his record in Saturday’s Group 2 Life Direct Wellington Guineas (1400m). His performance at Trentham will prompt a round table chat with breeder-owner Trelawney Stud on the three-year-old’s future.
“We will have a discussion after the weekend and make our minds up. He could stay here for the Levin Classic (Group 1, 1600m), I personally don’t think he’s a Derby horse and think he’s a bit too brilliant for that,” Pike said.
“Obviously, Sydney is still an option as well. He could have a freshen-up for 10 days or so and then something like the Hobartville Stakes (Group 2, 1400m) into the Randwick Guineas (Group 1, 1600m) and the Rosehill Guineas (Group 1, 2000m).”
Pareanui Bay’s first three wins included successes in the Group 2 Sarten Memorial (1400m) and the Listed Eagle Memorial (1500m) before he suffered his first defeat when a close second in the Listed Uncle Remus Stakes (1400m).
“He was pretty unlucky the other day, as well as the bad barrier he got knocked over on the corner and then bumped again at the 200m and still went close,” Pike said.
“It was a bit unfortunate to lose that unbeaten tag, but such is racing. He galloped brilliantly on Tuesday and it’s probably not the strongest Wellington Guineas we’ve seen and barring bad luck, I’d think he’d go very, very close.”
Pareanui Bay will be opposed in Saturday’s Guineas by improving stablemate Habana, winner of his last two on the bounce.
“He’s still learning his trade and even at Taupo he put them away very quickly and then pricked his ears and floated around,” Pike said.
“He’s definitely on an upward plane and he hasn’t run into a horse like Pareanui Bay yet, but the way he is racing I would expect him to run well again.”
Pike will also be represented in the Group 3 Mode Technology Trentham Stakes (2100m) by Sherwood Forest and in the Group 3 Dixon & Dunlop Anniversary Handicap (1600m) by Providenceprovides and London Bound.
Sherwood Forest has yet to return to the form that won him the New Zealand Derby with subsequent Victorian and Sydney campaigns going unrewarded, but his last-start third in the Taupo Cup was an improved effort.
“I think we’re getting him back to somewhere near his best, I don’t know what went wrong in Aussie last time as I wasn’t over there,” Pike said.
“His two runs back this time have been very good and at Taupo he was set a bit of a task with a long and wide sustained run and probably peaked at the furlong.
“Third-up at 2100m on a big roomy track like Trentham will really suit him and I would be expecting him to go close, especially at set weights and penalties.”
Sherwood Forest’s main target is the Group 2 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m).
“It looks the ideal race and I definitely think he’ll get the trip. He ran the Derby out strongly so I don’t think the two miles would be a problem. We’ll keep him ticking along that path,” Pike said.
Providenceprovides placed in the Group 3 Canterbury Breeders’ Stakes (1400m) and the Group 3 J Swap Sprint (1400m) and Pike wasn’t disappointed with the Real Impact mare when she was out of the money in the Group 2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m).
“She is definitely a better filly going left-handed, but she still ran well and would have probably been beaten only a length and a-half or so if she wasn’t checked late,” he said.
“I think back to Wellington on the big track she will be hard to beat. I’ll leave London Bound in the Rating 74 as well, but we might have a throw at the stumps and try and get some black type with her if everything fell her way.”