Champion jockey William Pike likes what he sees from Marocchino and says there’s no reason why they can’t continue their successful association at Ascot on Saturday.

Pike holds a perfect record on the Lou Luciani-trained gelding and remains bullish they can extend their productive strike rate to a winning hat trick in the Diggers Cup (1800m).

Pike got his first good handle on what Marocchino could produce when he booted home the four-year-old to a strong on pace victory over 2200m at Ascot in March.

He then followed up in the Albany Cup (2100m) with the son of Maschino surging clear at the top of the straight to record a decisive 1 ¼ length winning margin.

Marocchino holds Tabtouch favouritism, despite easing out to $3.80 from his opening price of $3.10.

That’s Funny Az, chasing five straight wins, has firmed from $8.50 into $5.50.

Trap For Fools, who opened at $4.60, has tightened to $4.

Pike said Marocchino had shown improvement and is confident he can run another sound race in the Diggers Cup.

“He is a nice progressive staying horse,” Pike told The Races WA.

“He’s shown improvement in each of the two runs I’ve had on him.

“Not in ability, but in getting to understand and know his job and what it’s all about.

“The penny is starting to drop with him.

“I’m confident he’ll run well again.

“He’s drawn well to get a nice run in transit.

“Hopefully I can put him into the race at the right time and he can use his stamina.

“I have high hopes and the three weeks between runs will help.”

Marocchino jumps from barrier six and carries 55kg.

Group 1 champions Come Play With Me and Trap For Fools lump the 62kg top weight.

“They carry weight, but you have to respect them,” Pike said.

“They have the runs on the board on what they’ve performed before.

“They’ll be the hardest to beat and for Marocchino it’s a step up in quality of opposition.

“They are older horses, but still pretty classy.”

Julio Santarelli