Perth’s leading jockey William Pike fears the Eastern State raiders as the main dangers to his chances on State Solicitor in the Group 1 $1m Crown Perth-Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot in Perth on Saturday.
Pike rides the Grant and Alana Williams trained State Solicitor who has earned a start in the weight for age Winterbottom Stakes after winning his last five starts in restricted grade at Belmont and Ascot.
“I think we’re as good a chance as any of the locals but the Melbourne horses throw a spanner in the work for me as there are some very nice ones in there so I sort of got to hope that maybe they didn’t travel quite so well as it would probably help my chances some more,” Pike told racing.com.
“He’s taking a massive step.”
“He’s been very impressive in the restricted races and in the way he’s handled them and he’s taken those steps very well but while it is a massive step, I think he’s going well enough to do it.”
State Solicitor was sent out as the odds on favourite at both his runs this campaign and hasn’t let his loyal followers down with two wins in a BenchMark 72+ Handicaps over the same course and distance as the Winterbottom Stakes on October 29 and two weeks later on November 12.
State Solicitor drew barrier eleven in the twelve horse Winterbottom Stakes field and is currently listed at $9 with Ladbrokes.com.au.
The Peter Gelagotis trained Malaguerra has drawn the rails with Ben Melham to ride and the last start Group 1 Darley Classic winner heads the market order at $3.40 just ahead of Joe Pride’s Sydney sprinter Terravista at $3.50.
Rock Magic from Chris Gangemi’s Ascot stables is the best of the local sprinters at $8 while the Gary Moore trained Takedown shares the $8 line with State Solicitor.
Even though State Solicitor is facing a huge step up in grade from restricted class to Group 1 level, Pike is behind the move from the Williams Team to give him a chance at the top grade while he is racing in good form.
“That’s the way it is over here. If you wait, we’ll you’ve got to wait twelve months for the next Group 1 so it’s a catch-22,” Pike said.
“You might be a year too soon, but then you might not have the horse in a year.
“The races are there and they are there to race so that’s what we do.”
Pike has been Western Australia’s leading jockey for several years with eight jockey premierships under his belt as well as winning the Winterbottom Stakes on two previous occasions on Ellicorsam for Lee Freedman in 2004 and on Hadabeclorka for West Australian trainer Brent Larsson in 2010.