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Rail Position: TRUE | Expected Track Condition: Good 4



Betting Strategy

Race 9 | #8 Rokanori

Could have made any of Pike’s final 3 rides my best, but I do like the setup for Rokanori in the last. Won a very similar race first up at this time last year and gets Pike in the saddle for the first time. Trialled well and lands near the one-one in a race without a huge amount of depth.


9. Blazing Emerald
8. Petula
3. Dialling
6. Pin Deep

Betting Strategy

The youngsters kick off the Belmont season, with Petula sure to be popular. After winning her trial well, she was gifted a soft lead on a day which suited those in front and won as she should have.
I really like her as a horse, but that was a gift – it’ll be interesting to see how she goes with the rise to 1300 and possibly not getting the rail (Pin Deep, not to be confused with Dig, has shown good gate speed in his trials and you’d suspect can hold the top).
If they allow her to cross and find the fence again, it’s probably lights out – lets start the Belmont season with some competitive racing aye. Blazing Emerald has beaten 3 horses’ home in her two trials, but will still have plenty of admirers. Chopped out at her most recent, she was clearly travelling.
Likely ridden quietly, she’ll be aiming to make her presence felt late with the 1300m and Pike booking looking ideal for a first up assignment. Suspect she’ll run the quickest L200, but what type of motor/maturity does she have on debut? Likely gets some of mine just on price. Dialling sat deep and kept coming behind Petula on debut. Very likely stalks her here, which closes that 2.8L margin significantly.


1. Glasgow Girl
7. Playz With Fire
5. Valency
3. Lucky Landing

Betting Strategy

Playz With Fire is one of the more intriguing runners of the day, making her return to the races after 501 days. She’s got more talent in one leg, than most of these do in all 4, but the difficulties in winning after such a lengthy lay-off cannot be under-stated. Both trials were super, but it’s a different kettle of fish under race day conditions.
Clear favourite, but there is a price which is acceptable, and one which is not (I’m mid to high 2’s). The speed map of this race is crucial, and maybe most crucial for Playz With Fire.
Mordor went super being ridden Tony Greig (hard and fast) from barrier to post and I can’t see them changing that. Glasgow Girl should breeze and Luke Campbell will stalk those two on Ultimate Command. The interesting part of the map starts after that is there is very little ‘secondary’ speed.
Who lands behind that lot? Does Jade McNaught take a risk and try boot across with Valency from the wide alley? Pontiff on Yoyo’s? Somebody will take up that spot, but it’s crucial it isn’t Playz With Fire doing the chasing behind a likely very hot tempo. Might be found out late if so. I’m happy having something small each way on Glasgow Girl.
She’s not a 1000m horse at this stage of her career (forget she went round a fortnight ago) and it’s better off looking at her recent 1200m efforts. December 2022 she ran 2nd to Sockoff (beating home Vane Tempest) at the 1200 and more recently, ran second, with what looks like a near identical map to this, to No Dice.
That from has been franked with her going super in a 72+ last week and Civvy Street also finishing behind her and winning a week ago. Doubt there is any real support around for her and she’s worth a small each way play on the likely drift.

BACK (EW) — Glasgow Girl each way


6. Kings Sicario
5. Zouboltz
3. Rusty Dreams
1. Catch These Hands

Betting Strategy

This feels like a trap race. Rusty Dreams went far too quick over the mile and was a sitting duck late for Catch These Hands. He’s been freshened up here and drops back to 1400, but how much has that run taken out of him?
At a pretty short quote, I won’t be paying to find out.
Catch These Hands is chasing 5 in a row. He goes from a hard run mile to what is likely to be a sedate (no obvious leader and you can almost guarantee if Pike finds the front on Rusty, the anchor comes out) 1400. 5 in a row under differing conditions would be the sign of a very nice ‘orse. I think the winner might be hidden.
Kings Sicario perhaps is better suited back to Belmont, drawing wide where he can unleash down the centre of the track? Nunes was DQ’d last start it appears (still can’t get any info on why?), but maps very close to the one-one. Is getting a milk drinking rep however.
Zouboltz is one likely to go around a big price, who is going better than that. No luck at his last two, beat Universal Flair two starts ago and goes around double that quote. Think the inside gate may end up sticky.
Feels like a good race to give a wide berth.


11. Royal Elite
9. First Encounter
2. Advanced
4. Dani Bella

Betting Strategy

This should be a high tempo affair with both leaders unlikely to be there in the finish. Expecting Dani Bella & Butterlea Lad to come across from the wide alleys and take up the running.
El Patron, Jolly Lace, Great Fortune & Ace Command should be the next few, which to me looks like a nice race for something settling rearward and utilising the longer Belmont straight to finish over them.
Royal Elite could be the one. It’s been a very unique 9 start career to date (rushed preparations into 3 feature races), but there does feel a touch of continuity with the rise to 1600 after racing at 1400m 18 days ago.
While she was beaten a long way in a lowly class one (Belgrano Belle smacked them and was stiff a week ago), she had no luck and absolutely savaged the line (and was humming past the post).
I’ve always thought this was a really nice horse, just poorly placed and would love to see her midfield with cover and letting down. Happy to find out if I’m right at the big price, if not she might be going in the bin.
Cobbanco’s form is elite and has something on these, but it looks a sticky steer for Brandon Louis, while Advanced is a funny runner. Trialled like Winx before looming like the winner first up and completely giving up the ghost. Fitness perhaps?
If you stopped watching the race at the 400m and priced this race from that point, he’d be a quarter of his current price. Map should suit those ridden quietly.
First Encounter is my market elect, but well under my price. Will end up as the best horse in this race, but has plenty to learn still.
Looks likely to end up 3 or 4 back the fence needing (and probably getting) a Pike special – can win without me at even money.

BACK (EW) — Royal Elite each way


3. Lord Gannicus
10. Little Silver
1. Thorogood
2. Cold Shizzle

Betting Strategy

Lord Gannicus is one of many surprising ‘Pike first time’ runners on the card and while he hasn’t quite lived up to his early hype, this does look a nice map.
Thought his trial was good (line through Playz With Fire earlier in the day) and maps to land very near the one-one. On paper gets every conceivable. The other 3yo, Little Silver looks the main threat.
Was ridden for speed at his most recent when not only leading, but also kicking to run the quickest L200. Always like to see that from a horse in front. Drops 2kg’s to Saturday grade, but it could be argued this is almost an easier race.
Plenty of respect for fresh specialist Thorogood and I liked the way Cold Shizzle trialled, but I do think the draw does favour the two youngsters. I’ve marked them both around the $3-4 dollar range which is fairly constant with their current quotes.

Watch the market. Would love an opportunity to back/save Lord G & Little Silver but don’t want to shop bare bones to do so.


9. Mack Mack
5. Knot Secret
7. Kaymay
4. Ginger Baker

Betting Strategy

I don’t think it’s impossible we see a William Pike quadrella here. Mack Mack will be all the rage in the first, in a race where map will be so crucial.
My feel is that with the rise to a mile they may look to sit Excellent Dream (shades off) and Kaymay might be happy coming out in neutral. If that occurs, Pike should find the fence, lead and dictate.
Hard to catch from there. Alternatively, if one of those two kick up, leaving Pike in the breeze, I think he’ll be susceptible to a backmarker like Knot Secret late. Mack Mack steps up from a 60+ to a 72+, but it really needs to be seen as more of a C1 to 72+ – it was a very weak, midweek event. If this is a fair and even deck with no on speed bias, I’d suggest he’ll go around under the odds.
Not knocking, just wary of the rise in grade. Knot Secret is the best of the backmarkers, but if Pike does control with Mack Mack from the rail, what type of splits is he going to have to run?
Kaymay wins one soon – would love to see the claim utilised (race in a lower grade) or use an apprentice. Racing super and the form lines are all positive.


12. Probity
8. Nurhaci
6. Trade War
11. Hint Of Mint

Betting Strategy

The jury will be out with Probity on a drier deck, but this looks a tremendous setup for a fresh specialist. Won like a proper horse first and then second up last prep, before pushing out to the mile (1200 his trip) and perhaps continuing a campaign which should have ended 5 starts earlier.
The positive from that now is the 5 points he dropped, meaning he carries only 55.5 rather than 58. His trial was elite and William Pike rides for the first time – the exact type of horse he is worth lengths on. His effort first up 2 campaigns ago when third to The Velvet Queen (and nearly went through the running rail) allays some fears about the ‘wet track only’. Confidence only increases if the rain is more significant than forecast.
With Double Spice & Man Crush scooting along, there will be plenty of tempo on here. While I suspect Nurhaci lacks a killer blow, I think he can run a race form position A, on the back of the two quick ones. Think he can run a drum at a price. Trade War was a brilliant trial and the inside gate looks a nice spot for this map.
May come down to Campbell needing to outride Pike. Hint Of Mint has run a pair of superb trials (shades on in most recent, now off) but likely gets well back, while Catalpa will have admirers but finds a stickier setup than his win first up. Happy taking him on.
Good competitive race, but Probity a standout for me (as well as monitoring a Nurhaci place price).

BACK (WIN) — Probity to WIN


3. Dom To Shoot
13. The Velvet Queen
4. Resortman
2. Comfort Me

Betting Strategy

The Northam Sprint field meets Resortman, Bustler, Minsk Moment & The Velvet Queen – a cracking race with opinions likely to be varied.

Funny little speed map here with no obvious leader. Red Can Man is likely going to be forced into the role of pacemaker, while Comfort Me will amble across always wanting cover (shades removed further emphasizes that).
No Apology and Staralign are possibilities to be ridden for speed and land forward, but the majority of the others are get back runners.
Despite the lack of perceived tempo (with Red Can drawing wide, there will be a natural tempo in the race with his early acceleration to get forward), I still think they’ll all get their chance here and I don’t think any of those on speed runners will be necessarily suited or get a chance to ‘steal it’.

Bit of a no-brainer for me, with Dom To Shoot a clear market elect. Once again, we saw exactly how much William Pike is worth to a sit and sprint runner, when he negotiated the outside draw to beat a very sharp Northam Sprint field.
Draws better here, the rise to 1400m should only suit and gets 1.5kg’s on Comfort Me for beating him home. Repeats that run and he has to be hard to hold out. The Velvet Queen is the real X factor runner.
While she was placed to perfection for her 4 wins last prep (didn’t carry above 56kg’s and didn’t claim any huge scalps), she has real upside.
With Chris Parnham chasing Group One glory in Adelaide, Jarrad Noske takes the ride and she should be able to use the good gate in a race devoid of a heap of speed. Lands forward of midfield in her acid test.
Resortman missed the Roma Cup which could have been a plan heading to this race, but always worries me with a horse known for some historical soundness issues. Felt both the run in the Roma & Quokka were terrific and can use gate 1. 1400m his pet trip.
Minsk Moment is a watch from the outside alley after a super run in the Gold Rush, while Bustler just doesn’t look that well in for me under late season WFA conditions. Beat nothing a fortnight ago and felt his run in the Quokka was only fair.
At the time of writing Red Can Man and Bustler are the two market elects – both are double figures in my book. This means we get to have a bet.

BACK (WIN) — Dom To Shoot to WIN
BACK (WIN) — The Velvet Queen to WIN (save)


8. Rokanori
5. Snowdome
9. Can’t Be Done
3. Mood Swings

Betting Strategy

No real surprises here, as Pike once again goes on top to round out the quadrella. While this is a nice little 78+ sprint, it really does lack many runners who look well placed to win.
With Snowdome likely to be desperately ridden for the front (interesting to note, Brad Parnham is 3 from 3 on Snowdome), Mood Swings looks your likely breeze horse with Can’t Be Done on Snowdome’s back and Rokanori in the one-one.
Turbo Power the pest runner, luckily drawn outside. Rokanori won a similar race first up a year ago (beat Searchin Roc’s & Em Tee Aye) and amazingly, this is the first time Pike hops aboard.
Loved the trial and for me he backs himself (marked $2.2). The Brad Parham on Snowdome theory will be well and truly tested here. Can he get him to jump and lead?
I think so – Mood Swings will be content breezing (is a rare horse who is better from the breeze, chasing one home).
Rokanori and Snowdome are the only 2 I’ve got sub $14 in my book.

BACK (WIN) — Rokanori to WIN

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