Pike in a pickle with stipes but trainers praise him
Australian Willie Pike arrived at the races knowing he would be suspended for a wayward ride last Wednesday night, but made the most of his time in the saddle with a double to continue a breakthrough run of good form.
Pike faced an adjourned inquiry yesterday into his winning ride on El Grande, and was given the expected two-meeting ban.
'It was just one of those ones where you know you're gone, you kind of feel bad that they're making a fuss about it,' he laughed. 'You just feel like saying 'Tell me how long I've got, do we really need to go through all this?', but I guess the stewards need to go through their formalities.'
Pike returned to Sha Tin in late April, after two previous short-term stays, but it has been the arrival of partner Jessica and two-year-old son Jet in the last fortnight that has coincided with Pike's good form, the jockey now having three winners at the last two meetings.
Pike's weaving ride on Newswire Too came after he had moved decisively to the rail and then bravely pushed in between horses.
'The horse likes to weave his way through and I'm glad he likes it because we did plenty of weaving,' Pike said.
Trainer Sean Woods said Pike's ride vindicated the jockey's last-start effort on his horse when third, after which stewards quizzed the rider on his tactics.
'He deserved to win on him after a very good ride on the horse last start,' Woods said. 'He has to be ridden like that, he probably feels like he's done enough when he gets on the outside of horses and stops. William was riding to my instructions the other day, yet the stewards gave him a warning. It was a wonderful ride again today.'
Although Pike has attempted to spread his commitments to more stables during this stint, Tony Millard has been one of the genuine lightweight rider's biggest supporters and the pair combined for their first win together with Lifeline Elite, who actually benefitted from a step up into Class Three, according to the trainer.
Millard said 133 pounds was too much for the horse over his pet distance of 1,000m last start in Class Four.
'He is a pretty limited horse and we've got no great aspirations for him, if we can pick up another win with him we'll be lucky,' he said. 'It was a toss-up between running in Class Four and Three, but he can't carry that top weight. He got all the favours today.
'William rode a great race and I like the way he rides, I'm very happy with him and I'm going to support him more.'