WA jockey William Pike has tested his Newmarket Handicap mount Graff (l) in a Flemington jump-out.
Western Australia’s premier jockey William Pike has made a flying visit to Melbourne to partner Newmarket Handicap contender Graff in a jump-out over the Flemington straight course..
Pike will ride the Kris Lees-trained Graff in Saturday week’s Group One Newmarket (1200m) and was impressed with the colt’s work on Friday morning.
Graff finished about three lengths behind star filly Sunlight who was given a good hit-out by her Newmarket rider Barend Vorster in the four-horse heat.
“I thought he went very well and felt very good,” Pike said.
“He was nice and fresh. He’s quite a strong horse and he gave me a good feel.
“It felt like we were moving along out there and I had a good hold of him.”
Pike said it was a good opportunity to come across to ride Graff, believing he has a great chance in the Newmarket with 51kg and can turn the tables on Sunlight when they get to the race.
“It was the first time I have sat on him this morning and I’m expecting him to run a great race just off that trial,” he said.
“I tracked in behind her then and she was strong through the line but so was I.
“We’ll know on race day, I guess.”
Sunlight was third in the Lightning Stakes first-up in which Graff was fourth, and her trainer Tony McEvoy was delighted with what he saw from the filly in the jump-out.
McEvoy has raced Sunlight in major races on one-week back-ups in the past and considered running her in the Listed Bob Hoysted Handicap on Saturday but opted for a trial in cooler conditions instead.
“It was really good,” McEvoy said.
“She’s a gross filly and she just knocked up a bit in the Lightning.
“I had the option of running her tomorrow and the thing that swayed me was probably the heat.
“I thought I could get the same benefit out of today and she looked good to me. She showed her beautiful natural speed and then quickened when he wanted her to.”
Vorster, who has just arrived in Australia from Singapore to become McEvoy’s South Australian stable jockey, will ride Sunlight in the Newmarket at 50.5kg which is below regular rider Luke Currie’s range.