Pike gearing up for Karaka assault

Not An Option
Not An Option wins the Group 2 Wakefield Stakes (1100m) at Trentham Photo credit: Race Images

As he puts the finishing touches on star juvenile Not An Option’s bid for the $1m Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) at Ellerslie later this month, Cambridge trainer Tony Pike is already well into the operational requirements for the second phase of his Colts Syndicate initiative that he successfully launched in 2019.

Pike put together a war chest from a group of investors to target a handful of well-bred colts during the National Yearling Sale at Karaka last year in the hopes of developing a future stallion prospect from their racetrack achievements.

He finished up buying six yearlings with Not An Option emerging as the leader of the pack to date courtesy of his stunning victory in the Group 2 Wakefield Challenge Stakes (1100m) at Trentham last month. That result saw Cambridge Stud proprietors Brendan and Jo Lindsay purchase a controlling interest in the Not A Single Doubt youngster for future stud duties and vindicate Pike’s original project decision.

Such has been the demand, Pike will target Karaka again in 2020 for the second edition of the programme while he has also taken the plunge to expand the scheme into Australia this year.

Stage one of the Australian opportunity was completed during the week when Pike outlaid A$300,000 for a Not A Single Doubt colt at the Magic Millions Yearling Sale on the Gold Coast. “We’ve had terrific feedback from our first Colts syndicate and the original investors are keen to go again so we will be back at Karaka this year to look for another half a dozen yearlings,” Pike said. “We have a couple of new people wanting to be involved, which is fantastic and we have even decided to expand into the Australian market for a second group of investors.

“We bought the Not A Single Doubt colt as the first stage to filling that syndicate and we will be looking around the other sales over there in the next few months for some more to add. “Guy Mulcaster and I will start our inspections of the Karaka draft on the Monday before the sale and will work our way down to a short list once we have seen them all. “It was a really competitive market last year and I don’t expect it to be any different this year.”

Pike is pleased with how Not An Option has trained on following his defeat to fellow Karaka Million 2YO contender Play That Song at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day in the Group 2 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) but will wait until he has met with the Lindsays and Cambridge Stud CEO Henry Plumptre before confirming a start in the juvenile feature on January 25. “Brendan and Henry have been at the Gold Coast for the last week so I haven’t really had a chance to catch up with them,” Pike said. “We’ll get together this week to discuss the plans for Not An Option and a start at Ellerslie. “He has come on nicely since New Year’s Day and has pleased me with his work so he will be ready to go if we push the button.”

Pike is also looking forward to the second day of the Trentham carnival this coming weekend where Endless Drama will tackle the Group 1 JR & N Berkett Telegraph (1200m) while Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) winner Loire will make her reappearance in the Group 3 Desert Gold Stakes (1600m). “Endless Drama had no luck in the Railway (Group 1, 1200m) on New Year’s Day as he got caught three- wide throughout so you can put a line through that run,” he said. “He has worked up well and we are hoping for a much better draw this time.

“Loire had a run at the Cambridge trials last Monday and won very comfortably over 1000m so she is forward for her first start back after a nice break in the paddock. “We also have The Bostonian nominated for the Telegraph but I will be having a chat with his owner about whether we go or not. “I just think the race may have come up a bit soon for him and we may be better heading over to Sydney a little later on and then back to Brisbane for the winter.”

Pike also advised that pacey three-year-old filly Kali has gone to the paddock for a short break after finishing unplaced in the Group 1 Sistema Railway (1200m) while Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) placegetter Sherwood Forest will have his next run over a middle-distance at Pukekohe in a fortnight. “Kali is in the paddock having some time off before we get her back for the autumn,” Pike said. “She didn’t get all favours in the Railway so a break will do her the world of good and we can look at some of those good autumn three-year-old races for her.

“Sherwood Forest went a nice race for fourth over a mile last time at Ellerslie but he is crying out for more ground. “That’s why we didn’t take him to Trentham on Saturday for the Levin Classic (Group 1, 1600m). “He is going to Pukekohe on the 24th for a rating 82 2100m and then he will go to the Avondale Guineas (Group 2, 2100m) before tackling the New Zealand Derby (Group 1, 2400m).”

Sherwood Forest currently sits on the third line of betting at $10 in the TAB’s Vodafone New Zealand Derby market with impressive Group 2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) winner Dragon Leap the $2.80 favourite.