Leading Perth rider William Pike is banking on his decision to ride Elite Belle will deliver him his first win in the Group 1 $1m Carlton Draught-Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot on Saturday.
Pike had the choice of the three Railway Stakes runners owned by prominent Perth owner Bob Peters, Elite Belle and Respondent trained by Grant Williams and the Adam Durrant trained Ranger.
The top rider has ridden Elite Belle in the majority of her twenty-two starts including her two runs this campaign.
Elite Belle scored first up with Pike in the Group 3 $150,000 Sea Corp Starlight Prince Of Wales Stakes (1200m) on October 25 at Ascot then finished fourth to Magnifisio in the Group 2 $250,000 Waroa-Lee Steere Stakes (1400m) at Ascot on November 8.
“She’s a great ride to have going into the Railway and I wouldn’t swap her for any other horse in the race,” Pike told the Sportsman.
“She’ll give a real good account of herself.”
Pike has dismissed a wide barrier draw as a disadvantage and said that he would have the Canny Lad mare back in the second half of the field anyway and work into the race from the 800m.
“She likes to find her feet a little bit so if we drew in there is a chance we might get swamped and end up a lot further back than we really want,” Pike said.
“From the half mile, whether I get a nice track up or have to cover too much ground and the run into the top of the straight will be quite critical for me.”
Brad Parnham replaces Pike on Respondent who has been around the mark at his three runs back from a spell.
The Western Australian Derby winner finished fourth first up in the Group 3 $150,000 Northerly Stakes (1400m) at Ascot on October 18 followed by a third in the Group 3 $150,000 Auto Classic – Asian Beau Stakes (1400m) at Ascot on November 1.
The Haradasun four year old then showed he was not far off a win with a second to Railway Stakes rival Bass Strait in the Group 3 $150,000 R.J. Peters Stakes (1500m) at Ascot on November 15.
While eight year old Ranger has been struggling to find any form from his three runs this campaign prompting Durrant to put the blinkers back on. Dom Tourneur has taken the ride.
Next in the betting is last start Asian Beau Stakes winner Balmont Girl at $10, Queensland trained Alma’s Fury and local hero Mr Moet at $13, Bass Strait at $14, Smokin’ Joey and Fuchsia Bandana at $15 and Ihtsahymn at $17.