Perth’s leading jockey William Pike will be reunited with Group 1 winner Elite Belle in the Group 2 $250,000 LD Total – C.B. Cox Stakes (2100m) at Ascot on Saturday.
Pike had been the regular rider for Elite Belle during her career with the pair sharing eight of her nine wins including a victory in the Group 1 $1m Carlton Draught-Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot on November 22.
But Pike jumped off the Grant Williams trained four year old mare to stick with three year old Disposition in the Group 1 $500,000 TAB Touch – Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot on December 6.
Pike was also the regular rider for the Grant Williams trained stalemate Disposition, owned by the same connections, whom he rode into second spot behind Rommel in the Group 2 $400,000 Sky Racing-W.A. Guineas (1600m) at Ascot on November 22.
Three year olds have a huge weight advantage under the weight for age scale and Pike’s decision nearly paid off when he was beaten in a tight photo finish by the Chris Waller trained Moriarty in the Kingston Town Classic.
Perth jockey Peter Hall picked up the ride on Elite Belle with the Canny Lad mare running home from back in the field to finish third, two and a quarter length away in the third spot.
Even though Elite Belle has a sprinting pedigree, owner Bob Peters is willing to give her another go over a middle distance and Pike is certain to give her every chance from barrier four in the fourteen horse C.B. Cox Stakes field.
“She hasn’t won beyond 1800m,” Peters told The West Australian.
“Three-year-olds can run in Oaks and derbies because they have brilliance, but they are not true stayers.
“It is the only option available to her so she’ll go in it and we’ll see if she can defy her breeding.”
Elite Belle was tested over the 2400m Classic distance as a three year old when third in 2012 Group 3 $250,000 W.A. Oaks at Ascot followed by a twelfth in the Group 2 $400,000 Schweppes W.A.T.C. Derby at Ascot two weeks later.
While the furthest she has won over is the 1800m in the Listed $100,000 Ascend Sales Trophies – La Trice Classic at Ascot on January 1 at the beginning of this year.
And Peters is hoping to do better than ninth to Ihtsahymn in last year’s C.B. Cox Stakes.
“She is coming on well, and she is probably going better this year than she was last year,” Peters said.
The Paula Wagg trained Balmont Girl has been posted the early favourite for the weight for age C.B. Cox Stakes at $3.50 just ahead of Elite Belle at $3.80.
Bass Strait is next in the betting at $5 with veteran Mr Moet marked as a $10 chance with 2013 winner Ihtsahymn at $11.