A capacity field of Stradbroke Handicap hopefuls...
The final Group 2 race of the year gets underway from Ascot on Saturday as a strong field of nine gets set to contest the Group 2 $400,000 Ted Van Heemst Stakes (2100m).
Perth’s leading jockey William Pike will be the man to watch aboard Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) winner Galaxy Star. The pair drew gate 7 during Wednesday’s barrier draw, and have opened as the early $1.70 favourite with Ladbrokes.com.au.
Pike, who has ridden 10 winners at Ascot during the month of December, has been a punters pal so far this Summer.
Likewise, the Ted Van Heemst Stakes has proven a strong hunting ground for the champion jockey having won the race three times over the last five years.
Alongside Galaxy Star this weekend will be the ever-improving Material Man, who is now third-up following a second placing in the Group 1 Kingston Town Cup (1800m) a fortnight ago on the same track.
The seven-year old veteran has drawn the inside gate ahead of Saturday’s race, and opens as the $4.00 second-elect in the market.
For Pike, this will likely be his last feature race before January’s $10 million Magic Millions on the Gold Coast.
The 32-year-old has been heavily scouted by Queensland based syndicate 2K Thoroughbreds, who hope Pike will ride Champagne Jet in the 2YO Classic (1200m) and Unconditional in the 3YO Guineas – both of which could pool a combined $4 mil in prize-money.
“He’d be a good chance of riding there with a meeting at Pinjarra on the same day,” Pike’s manager Dale Verhagen told The West.com.au.
“The only issue could be they wanted someone to ride on January 5 too because one of them (Unconditional) isn’t guaranteed a start yet.
“I did say if it was just for January 12 he’d be there.
“We’re pretty keen to do some riding for those owners.”
Full Ted Van Heemst Stakes Odds can be seen below.
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