Erkelens Has Tough Strickland Decision To Make

24
Jun

Trainer Justine Erkelens remains unsure whether to back-up tough mare Friar Fox in next week’s Group 3 Strickland Stakes (2000m), following her win at Belmont yesterday.

Friar Fox, ridden by Jade McNaught, scored her first win since an eastern states campaign, narrowly defeating the well supported Send My Love in the Happy Birthday 60th Diana Williams Handicap (1600m).

Erkelens said Friar Fox had pulled up well from her win and indicated she was tempted to start the four-year-old in next week’s $150,000 event.

“She’s licked the bin and she’s bright,” Erkelens told TABradio.

“It hasn’t knocked her around.

“It’s a real hard decision to make because she’s still low in the ratings.

“If you’re lucky to win it, you end up in trouble with ratings points.”

Erkelens said she would nominate Friar Fox for the final leg of the Group 3 treble at Belmont for the winter.

The Strickland Stakes will likely feature Hyperion Stakes winner and runner-up Gatting and Galaxy Star respectively, as well as consistent performers Great Shot, Mizlecki and Come Play With Me.

Friar Fox had four starts under the care of Darren Weir in Victoria, which resulted in just one placing.

Erkelens said the Blackfriars mare wasn’t suited by the conditions in Victoria, which made the decision to return to Perth significantly easier.

“I went over there to visit her and just the environment didn’t suit her,” she said.

“She’s the type of horse that needs to be out in space.

“It took her a good three months to get over that.

“She’s taken a while but she is back to herself.”

William Pike, who rode Send My Love, rode four winners on yesterday’s Belmont Guineas program, including the two feature events.

The quartet of wins took him past 200 winners for the season.

Valor Road was heavily supported to take out the Listed Bolton Sprint (1200m), in what was his first start back in Perth since an Adelaide campaign last month.

The Simon Miller-trained three-year-old took a little while to hit top gear in the home straight, but drew away over the final 100m to defeat Lockroy and Floyd.

It was Pike’s fifth success in the sprint event.

Pike then took out the Belmont Guineas (1600m) aboard talented filly Mystery Miss, delivering him a fourth win the race.

It was a second straight success in the race for Pike, trainers Grant and Alana Williams and owner-breeder Bob Peters, after they took out the race last year with State Prosecutor.

The Animal Kingdom filly will progress to the Listed Belmont Oaks on July 6 and, potentially, the Belmont Classic on July 20.

Pike’s other two winners on the program came aboard Festival Miss and the unbeaten Battle Storm.

Elsewhere, War God returned to the winners circle in the Glenroy Chaff Handicap (1400m) almost 12 months to the day since his last win in last year’s Bolton Sprint.

Meanwhile, today’s Carnarvon meeting has been abandoned due to heavy rain overnight.

Julio Santarelli
www.rwwa.com.au