Punters in Melbourne have a saying – ‘Back Weir, drink beer’ – in reference to the success of Victorian trainer Darren Weir.
For punters at the first Bunbury Turf Club meeting of the new season on Wednesday the catchphrase was – ‘Back Pike, drink what you like’ – with the champion hoop scoring four wins and two seconds from eight rides.
The Wizard, as he is affectionately known, won more races last season than any jockey in Australia and got Bunbury fans off to a great start with King River ($1.90) doing his best work in the final 150 metres to take out race one three-quarters of a length.
He then urged second-elect Coming Back ($4.90) to a one-and-a-half length victory in race two, toppling short price favourite Scales of Justice ($1.70) in the process.
Race three saw local trainer Michael Lane capture his first win of the 2016/17 season with Krakka Vision ($5.50) scoring for apprentice jockey Jordan Turner. Seven-year-old Henny Shaker returned brave punters a $31 place dividend for third and may be one for the black book.
A plum ride from jockey Brad Parnham lifted Ripper Rio ($4) to a one-and-a-quarter length victory. Settling sixth and switching off early, the five-year-old grey gelding peeled out just before the bend and was never going to be caught in the final 200 metres.
Pike bought up his treble in race five aboard the up-and-coming gelding Prying Tom. Sired from Melbourne Cup runner Black Tom, Prying Tom stalked the leaders for 1400 metres before finding the front in the straight and kicking away strongly.
Race six, over 2200 metres, knocked out most of the quaddie punters with apprentice jockey Mollie Clark scoring an upset victory with Kirov Boy ($46.20). The seven-year-old chestnut gelding looked unlikely on paper, lugging 62 kilograms, six more than any other horse in the field.
Kirov Boy knows one speed – flat out – so no one was surprised to see the horse kick its way to a five length lead with 1000 metres to run in a ‘catch me if you can’ approach. What was surprising was the chasing pack’s inability to gather up the roughie in the straight, with Kirov Boy still more than a length clear on the line.
There was drama before the $100,000 TABtouch three-year-old classic with favourite Saul’s Special breaking through the barrier before the jump.
Jockey Brad Parnham quickly got the colt under control and after being vetted, rejoined the line.
The field had a number of last year’s best juveniles but it was each-way hope I Am Boudica ($12.10) ridder by Ryan Hill who scored a half-length victory over the fast-finishing Sweet Ora.
Punters will be left wondering whether the barrier incident affected the performance of Saul’s Special who dead-heated for third with Elegant Blast.
The last saw a ding-dong battle between pre-race favourites Heart Starter and Chocolate Holic.
Despite riding Chocolate Holic to four straight wins, Pike elected to ride Heart Starter ($2.80) and he worked his magic to score a head-bobbing win over Chocolate Holic to give trainers Grant and Alana Williams the quinella.
Racing returns to Bunbury Turf Club on Thursday, October 20.