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Perth’s premier rider William Pike has opted to ride Grant Williams’ La Trice Stakes winning mare Elite Belle in Saturday’s 2014 Roma Cup as she takes on multiple Group 1 champion Luckygray.
Despite being given the option to partner Adam Durrant’s more experienced Group 1 performer Ranger, Pike has opted to jump back aboard Canny Lad mare Elite Belle in this year’s $125,000 Group 3 Roma Cup (1200m).
Last start back on New Year’s Day at Ascot the five-year-old had top hoop Damien Oliver in the saddle for her win in the Listed La Trice Stakes (1800m).
She runs for the first time since on Saturday in the Roma Cup then with Pike in the saddle.
Pike has had plenty of rides aboard Elite Belle including all six of her other spring – summer starts last season leading up to her La Trice success.
Among those were two other victories including the Listed Carbine Club of WA Stakes (1400m) on November 23 on the back of her second to fellow Roma Cup hope this weekend, Kerrific, in the Group 3 RJ Peter Stakes (1500m) where she was blocked for a run on the home straight.
Elite Belle trialled over 1000m at Belmont Park on May 5 with Pike in the saddle, the jockey impressed enough to stay on her for her first-up run this weekend after her fourth behind likely Roma Cup favourite Luckygray.
Testa Rossa seven-year-old Ranger meanwhile is looking to break a lengthy drought when the race in the Roma Cup.
A former gun on the turf, they earned a trip east for the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival two years ago after some promising form that included three straight wins and a second to Playing God in that year’s Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m).
Barakey however hasn’t won a race since November of 2011.
Their most recent run was in last year’s Kingston Town where they beat home just one other runner finishing 10th behind Ihtsahymn, after which they pulled up lame.
That day Jarrad Noske was aboard after Pike decided to ride Elite Belle having been given the same options he had for the Roma Cup.
It was a poor effort from Ranger but one that connections have forgiven as they came into it having missed their lead-up run in the Railway Stakes two weeks before after getting scratched after stewards found he’d been treated on course.
Pike trialled them last Friday week for a second over the 1000m behind Liveandletdie, but he has opted not to ride them in their resuming run.
The dissing by Pike hasn’t broke the confidence of Ranger’s owner-breeder Bob Peters however.
“I would not read too much into the swap,” Peters told The West Australian.
“William has had many disappointments with Ranger.”
Instead the veteran galloper will have Peter Hall in the saddle as he looks to go one better than their long neck second to Power Princess, when ridden by Pike, in last year’s Roma Cup.
Hall is yet to ride a Roma Cup winner.
Make sure you stay tuned to view the Roma Cup 2014 field out on Wednesday.
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