PIKE HAPPY FOR GRACEFUL BACK UP

1
Jun

Champion jockey William Pike has no doubt Graceful Girl can back up and elevate to stakes company after her impressive win at Belmont on Saturday.

The Grant and Alana Williams-trained filly charged down the outside after being last to the turn and beat Timely Outburst and Divine Pair comfortably.

Raced by Bob and Sandra Peters, the promising daughter of Nicconi gave Pike the first leg of a treble after wins later on Billy Ray and Leading Girl.

Graceful Girl has not finished out of the money in her six career starts, winning three races and placing as many times since her debut last year.

Pike believes if the three-year-old can handle the quick turnaround he’s confident she can make an impact in Saturday’s Listed Raconteur Stakes (1400m).

“I will leave it up to the powers that be, but I think she will be able to handle it,” Pike told Tabradio.

“She is just a professional little racehorse who loves to race.

“I think young horses that are in the zone, which I think she is, put them in anything and they will have a red-hot crack.”

Pike said Graceful Girl didn’t have it all her own way on Saturday and her ability to sprint sharply in the straight was ultra-impressive.

“I was held up and she did it from the back foot,” Pike said.

“It was a really nice effort and I thought it was a good effort to do it without any momentum leading into the straight.

“To gun them down like she did was really nice.”

Pike concedes after a shaky start he is beginning to warm to Billy Ray.

The Sebring three-year-old took out the Crown Towers Handicap (1300m) with authority, winning by 2 ¼ lengths.

“I haven’t been his biggest fan,” Pike said.

“He’s just one of those horses that is always short priced and gets beat.

“It’s not really anything against him as such.

“I was just happy we had a good barrier, we were able to use it and he was strong late.

“You can’t really ask for anymore.

“He let down strongly and right through the line which was good.”

Leading Girl made a successful return from a spell, storming home from the back half of the field.

It completed a winning hat trick after back-to-back victory’s ended her last preparation.

The five-year-old could tackle the Hyperion Stakes (1600m) in a fortnight and Pike is not against the move.

“It’s definitely a big step up and it would be nice if she had one more run under her belt,” Pike said.

“Young horses on the way up like her always perform well, nearly no matter what you put them in.

“If they are good at the time they just go good.

“I know it’s a bit of an elite level, but once you get to the mile it stretches quite a few of them and takes a lot of their brilliance away.”

Julio Santarelli