Cambridge trainer Tony Pike is confident strapping chestnut Field Of Gold can be in the thick end of the prizemoney in Saturday’s Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m).
The gelded son of Starspangledbanner has drifted to +500 with the bookmakers for the Riccarton feature in a market headed by Noverre (+150) and Wakari (+450).
A runner-up last start to Noverre in the Group 3 War Decree Stakes (1600m), Pike believes Field Of Gold can turn the tables and is hoping the two-time winner will relax better on Saturday, with Michael McNab to take the reins, having ridden him to victory at Te Rapa at the beginning of the campaign.
“Kozzi (Asano, jockey) was just a little bit aggressive on him last start,” Pike said.
“He gave him a good dig out of the gates and put him up on speed in a slowly run race, which he probably didn’t need to do. Just due to a lack of tempo he got over-racing a touch and was left in front a long way from home which isn’t ideal for him.
“He’s a lot better with a target and can tend to float and get a bit lost out there when he on his own.
“From a perfect gate tomorrow (barrier 4), Michael is going to have plenty of options where he lands in the run and I’m sure he’s going go very close to turning the tables, he’s trained on in really good order.”
McNab had always been earmarked to ride Field Of Gold in the Guineas, while top apprentice Kozzi Asano, who has ridden several of the Pike team with success in recent months, will partner outsider Ceasar for Michael Moroney and Pam Gerard.
“Michael had ridden him first-up at Te Rapa and it was always his Guineas ride,” Pike said.
“Going down early and with the COVID restrictions, Kozzi’s done a great job on the team down South.
“He’ll stick with There You Go in the New Zealand 1000 Guineas (Group 1, 1600m) next week, so he’s still got a very good Guineas ride coming up and just with the hassles of travelling down South and the clashes with some of the northern meetings, Kozzi has warmed the saddle for Michael.”
Pike also has a pair of runners in Providenceprovides and London Bound running in the Gold Club Premier Rating 74 over 1400m.
“Providenceprovides is going super,” Pike said. “Unfortunately she just missed the kick at Ashburton the other day and ended up a fair bit further back than we wanted her to.
“She still closed the race off well and she will improve off that. I think back to Riccarton is going to be a huge advantage. She’s a big, long-striding filly and I’d expect her to go close to winning on Saturday.”
Pike indicated that should Providenceprovides win well on Saturday, she could potentially push on to Wednesday’s Group 2 Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) as a light-weight chance, while London Bound also holds a nomination for the race.
Meanwhile, Pike has reported that quality three-year-old Tutukaka has returned home to New Zealand following his sixth placing in last Saturday’s Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) won by Hitotsu.
“He got home yesterday and we’ve trotted him up this morning. He pulled-up quite sore in his near fore after the race and when he got back home, he’s actually had a foot abscess blow out the back of his heel which is quite noticeable this morning. Tony Noonan had mentioned that after the race,” Pike said.
“It was a pretty brave effort, James (McDonald, jockey) said he had to go a lot further back than he wanted to in a slowly run race and had to use up a lot of tickets to get into a challenging position on the corner.
“He said he probably did too much work in the run but was really happy with his run, and with a bit of maturity he should be very competitive in the Derby races in Australia in the autumn.”