Cambridge-based trainer Tony Pike is well-armed to go back-to-back in Saturday’s Listed El Roca – Sir Colin Meads Trophy (1200m) at Hastings, a race he won with Bostonian last year.
Pike prepares equal second and third favourites for the three-year-old race in Stella Noire and Cyber Attack, a pair that he finds difficult to split.
“They’re pretty evenly matched,” he said. “Cyber Attack will handle any rain that happens to fall before Saturday, while Stella Noire’s probably looking for a reasonable track surface.
“Stella Noire might have more natural ability but she’s going in fresh-up and he’s going to be a fit racehorse going into Saturday’s race.”
That natural ability has shown in Stella Noire’s unbeaten record in three trials and one race day appearance over 1100m at Ellerslie on Boxing Day, and Pike is happy with how she has progressed since then.
“She’s grown into a very big and impressive looking filly,” he said.
“That’s part of the reason that we spelled her after her Boxing Day win.
“She just continued to grow and she’s grown into a big scopey type so we’re really happy with the way that she has developed from two to three.”
Stella Noire has made two public appearances since spelling, winning a trial at Cambridge in early May and more recently winning another at Te Teko.
“It was a pretty soft trial at Te Teko,” Pike said. “It followed a nice hit out on the course proper at Cambridge the week before that and she’s going to be pretty forward going into Saturday’s race.
“Her work on Tuesday morning was outstanding and she galloped again on Thursday morning. It was a lot quieter work on the pretty wet grass but I can’t fault her work and I can’t fault her condition.”
The only concern Pike has with the promising filly is her barrier draw of 11, although he’s leaving the race tactics in the capable hands of jockey Leith Innes who rode her on Boxing Day and in her most recent trial.
“Leith’s got plenty of confidence in her and just depending on how she clears the barriers I’ll leave it completely in his hands how he decides to ride her,” Pike said.
Stella Noire’s stablemate and race rival Cyber Attack fared much better in the barrier draw and he will jump from barrier three with Vinne Colgan aboard.
“He’s a very honest campaigner, he’s going to be one of the fitter runners in the race,” Pike said. “He’s got a few runs under his belt and he’s in good form.
“He was hampered in his last start at Te Rapa and he did a few things wrong after that but he finished the race off really well.
“I think 1400m would probably suit him better than 1200m but he’s going to get a nice trip in transit and I’m sure he won’t be too far away in the finish.” – NZ Racing Desk