Kiwi raider Tutukaka will continue his march towards the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) next month when he lines-up in the Listed Super Impose Stakes (1800m) at Flemington on Saturday.
The Tony Pike-trained gelding finished eighth first-up in the Listed Exford Plate (1400m) at Flemington earlier this month and Pike expects him to go close to winning this weekend despite clashing with Derby favourite Gunstock amongst a host of progressive types.
“He has come through his fresh-up run really well,” Pike told The Form.
“Frosty (jockey Damian Lane) is going to stick with him on Saturday, he has marked him as his Derby ride for the spring. You would expect him to be really competitive up to the 1800m on Saturday.”
Pike admitted it isn’t ideal overseeing Tutukaka’s spring preparation from his Cambridge base, but he is getting plenty of updates.
“We have had a few videos and photos from Melbourne. It’s not like being there, but he has settled in really well to his new environment over there,” Pike said.
The son of Tavistock will have one final run before the Victoria Derby and Pike said they have plenty of options.
“Safely through Saturday there are three options heading in the Derby, it is one of the joys of Melbourne in the spring,” he said.
“The Caulfield Classic over 2000m is probably the one we are leaning towards, but you have got the Moonee Valley Vase (Group 2, 2040m) the week after, and also the Geelong Classic (Listed, 2200m).
“Any one of those three are going to be his final lead-up to the Derby.”
Pike is also campaigning former Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) winner Sherwood Forest in Melbourne and was slightly disappointed with his second-up effort at Sandown where he failed to beat a runner home over 1800m.
“He raced last Saturday and I was a bit disappointed in his run,” Pike said. “He loomed like a chance on the corner but admittedly they had gone quite slow and he was left flat-footed when they straightened up.
“He will probably run in the Coongy Cup (Group 3, 2000m) in two weeks. That will give us a good line on where he fits in in Melbourne, whether he heads to the better races or we start looking for some Country Cups.”