Sherwood Forest provides Pike with a quandary

Sherwood Forest
Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) winner Sherwood Forest. Photo credit: Trish Dunell

Trainer Tony Pike breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday morning as he watched Group 1 New Zealand Derby winner Sherwood Forest moving freely after pulling up lame in his campaign opener at Ellerslie the previous day.

The Fastnet Rock four-year-old failed to beat a runner home in the JRA Trophy (1400m) and finished nearly ten lengths behind the second to last runner. The gelding underwent a subsequent veterinary examination which found grade 4/5 lameness in his left foreleg.

Pike had his own vets perform several x-rays on the horse on Sunday morning however he was walking freely and showing no signs of a problem, with the x-rays failing to reveal any explanation for the run. “We just don’t know what has happened,” Pike said. “Michael (McNab) said he lost his action after a furlong and he tailed off.

“He pulled up extremely lame so we took him home and performed some precautionary x-rays this morning but they have revealed nothing at this stage. “He’s trotted up one hundred percent sound so it’s a little bit of a mystery. “We’ll do some more investigations over the next couple of days but thankfully it doesn’t look life threatening which is a big positive.”

Pike believes the horse may have struck himself coming out of the barriers but admits he is only guessing at this stage. “He might have knocked a leg when he jumped but frankly, we just don’t know,” he said. “He was very lame after the race so he has obviously done something.

“It doesn’t look like much at all so we will press on once we have had him thoroughly checked out although we won’t be in any rush to get him to Hastings at this stage.”

Pike will be represented in the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy at Hastings this Saturday with Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) winner Loire set to take her place in the race, however exciting three-year-old prospect The Irishman will miss the age group events at the carnival in favour of an alternative path to the Group 1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November.

“Loire will be going to the Tarzino as the fresh-up run for her spring campaign,” he said. “She’s coming along nicely so it is a good race to kick her off in. “The Irishman will miss the Hawke’s Bay carnival as we are looking at a softer option which will most likely be at Ellerslie on the 26th before he goes to the Sarten Memorial (Group 2, 1400m) at Te Rapa later in October.

“He’s an exciting horse who didn’t really handle the heavy ground when he won at Avondale so when he strikes a better track, we should see more of his true ability.”

The Irishman narrowly won a maiden 1200m contest on a Heavy10 surface at Avondale on September 2 following two impressive trial victories. TAB Bookmakers have him listed as the $7 second favourite behind Need I Say More ($3.50) for the New Zealand 2000 Guineas which will be run at Riccarton on November 7.