Pike on weather watch

Sherwood Forest

Cambridge trainer Tony Pike will be keeping a close eye on the weather ahead of racing at Te Rapa on Saturday where Group One winner Sherwood Forest is set to kick-off his spring preparation in the Super Seth @ Waikato Stud Mile (1600m).

The five-year-old gelding pleased in his 1300m trial at Cambridge earlier this month and Pike is cautious of giving him a first-up run on a heavy track.

“He is entered for Saturday but we are having a good look at the weather. We wouldn’t want to run if it was extremely heavy,” Pike said.

“He is going to get in reasonably well at the weights if Beauden pays up, but it is really getting a run under his belt ahead of a Melbourne campaign.”

Sherwood Forest’s ultimate aim for the spring is the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington in November and Pike is looking at lead-up options including the Group 3 The Bart Cummings (2500m) and Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m).

Pike is also set to line-up a handful of runners on the Te Rapa undercard, including Divine Dive in the Xmas @ Te Rapa Tickets Now On Sale 1200, and La Casa in the Valachi Downs Foxbridge Plate Day 28/8 (2100m).

“We couldn’t find a rating 74 sprint for Divine Dive anywhere,” Pike said. “He is well out of the handicaps and a win would surprise at that level, but he is very consistent, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him running a place.

“La Casa just never handled the very heavy track at Avondale last start. Any improvement in track conditions will see him run an improved race.”

Meanwhile, Pike was pleased with his pair of triallers on the Cambridge Synthetic on Tuesday.

Four Queens ran home well to beat Vername by a short head in her 950m heat and Pike believes a good spring is instore for the mare.

“She trialled up really well,” Pike said. “She just dropped out the back, relaxed nicely, and picked them up really quickly.

“She is nicely rated at 62. She will probably kick-off at Hastings, or maybe Ellerslie on the 5th (of September) with the prizemoney increases, and hopefully work her way through the grades as a spring four-year-old and get some money in the bank for The Oaks (Stud, breeder/owner).”

Three-year-old filly Chanel, who also carries The Oaks Stud’s colours, finished third in her heat and could have black-type targets ahead of her this spring.

“She had one start as a two-year-old before spelling and ran well for third,” Pike said.

“She got back on the inside today and ran on nicely on the bridle. She had a good blow and she will progress through to maiden three-year-old races sometime in the next three weeks.

“Hopefully she gets to a level where she could possibly get some black-type somewhere along the line in the spring.”

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