Star Sprinter Primed For Galaxy Challenge

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Pierata

Greg Hickman has left no stone unturned in preparing Pierata for what is likely to be his final racing preparation before he is retired to stud.

The top sprinter resumes in Saturday’s Group One Galaxy (1100m), a year after he was narrowly denied by Nature Strip in the corresponding race.

Since then he has won the Group One All Aged Stakes, The Shorts and the Redzel Stakes, shooting up in the ratings and weights.

Pierata has 59kg, three kilos more than last year, but more importantly he has to concede four kilos to his nearest-weighted rivals and nine kilos to three-year-olds Cosmic Force and Anaheed.

The last horse to lump a similar weight to win the Galaxy was Mr Tiz, who carted 58.5kg in 1991 while Temple Of Boom scored with 57kg eight years ago.

Hickman knows the statistics are unfavourable and the competition fierce but he says his only focus has been getting Pierata to the race in top shape.

And he believes he has ticked that box.

“All I’m hoping for is a good run, give him every chance and I will be happy with that because I know I’ve got the horse 100 per cent right on the day and win, lose or draw we will come home happy,” Hickman said.

Compounding Pierata’s task is his awkward gate, 11.

But given the horse’s weight, maintaining his rhythm and momentum will be key and on that basis, Hickman believes the draw could work in his favour.

The onus will be on Pierata’s regular rider Tommy Berry to get it right, a scenario Hickman says is no different from any other major.

“Tommy has just got to try to give him a 10 out of 10 ride,” Hickman said.

“But most races at this level, jockeys have to give them perfect rides to win.

“He obviously needs a bit more galloping room and I would rather barrier 11 than barrier one.”

The Galaxy has attracted a crack field including Pierata’s one-time nemesis Kementari, who will race for the first time in more than a year after being brought out of retirement and gelded because of fertility issues at stud.

He will be one of four runners for James Cummings along with high-class mare Savatiano, Deprive and Soothing.

Pierata will follow the same race template as last autumn and progress to the Group One sprint double of the TJ Smith (1200m) and All Aged Stakes (1400m), both at Randwick in April, before a decision is made on his future.

“We haven’t really talked about down the track any further,” Hickman said.

“But I thought if we ran very well in all those races, I don’t know that there’s a lot more he can do.”

Despite the challenge, Pierata heads betting at $4.60, ahead of Savatiano at $6.50.

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