New Zealand juvenile Tutukaka set to rise in The Phoenix

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Promising New Zealand juvenile Tutukaka will be out to break maiden ranks when he contests the Listed The Phoenix (1500m) across the Tasman at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

The Tavistock gelding has finished runner-up in his two prior starts, including over 1400m at the Sunshine Coast last month.

“That was a really good run first-up,” trainer Tony Pike said. “That was only his second start and he is a horse that is looking for further, and raceday experience is going to be a huge help to him.

“He galloped really well in company on the course proper at Eagle Farm and I think he is second favourite for the race in the early market. With natural improvement he should be a chance on Saturday.

“His main target is the 1800m two-year-old race two weeks later, which he should be extremely hard to beat in.”

The regally-bred gelding is a half-brother to 14-time Group One winner Melody Belle, and was purchased by Pike out of Haunui Farm’s 2020 New Zealand Bloodstock Book 1 Yearling Sale for $250,000.

Meanwhile, Pike’s Queensland raid will continue at Doomben on Wednesday where he will be represented by Lebanese Trader and Kali.

“Lebanese Trader has worked very well leading into tomorrow’s race. Gate one is going to be a huge help,” Pike said.

“He is still learning his trade, he is still quite new and green so we have put the blinkers on him for tomorrow. Whatever he does he will improve off. He should be a genuine winning chance.

“Kali is fresh-up after 14 or 15 months. She has trialled up well leading into tomorrow’s race and she has got a good gate as well.

“She will probably improve with the run, but ability should take her a long way, and if she could run top three we would be pretty happy going forward.

“If she could win in her next couple of starts then we might throw the dice at a fillies and mares stakes race towards the end of the carnival.”

Back in New Zealand, Pike will have a five-strong team racing on the Cambridge Jockey Club’s synthetic surface on Wednesday.

Pike will have a two-pronged attack in the NZB Insurance Pearl Series (1300m) with last start placegetters Precious Colours and Dark Satin.

“They are both progressive mares,” he said. “They are both going to be better next season, but both of them ran well last start and they should be reasonably competitive tomorrow.”

Pike is enjoying racing on his home track and has labelled Viking in the Morgan Carter Bloodstock (970m) as his best chance of the nine-race meeting.

“Viking in the last should be hard to beat,” he said. “He was extremely unlucky fresh-up. He just ran up into heels on the inside and he probably should have won. He is probably my best chance for the day.

“Racing at Cambridge has been great. Not only with the travel factor, but just a consistent surface at this time of the year. Not all horses want slow to heavy tracks, so it is a great alternative for those horses looking for better ground.”

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