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Ever Loyal boosts Pike’s Guineas hopes

28 October 2017, 5:57 p.m.

Cambridge horseman Tony Pike has strengthened his hand for the Gr.1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) with Ever Loyal booking his spot.

Following a hollow win in Saturday’s Listed Zacinto Stakes (1600m) at Riccarton, the son of Sebring confirmed his spot in the Al Basti Equiworld-sponsored classic in a fortnight’s time.

Ever Loyal Photo: Race Images South

Ever Loyal’s barn mate Bostonian will also take his place in the Guineas with Aim Smart and Sacred Rebel also still in contention.

“We had to scratch Aim Smart from Ellerslie, but that doesn’t necessarily count him out,” Pike said.

“He’s not a heavy horse and we could send him south early and give him a couple of good gallops.”

A wet track also forced Pike to withdraw Sacred Rebel from last Friday’s Pukekohe meeting and he will run at Avondale next Wednesday in the hope of reasonable footing allowing him to boost his chances of a Riccarton trip.

“The weather’s made it one of the most frustrating springs I’ve ever had in my time as a trainer, it’s been a nightmare,” Pike said.

Ever Loyal is now an $8 chance in the Guineas after his victory romp on Saturday under jockey Jason Waddell.

They crossed from a wide gate to race in second spot and were left sitting ducks before the turn, but they still had a length and a quarter to spare on Scott Base with the filly Swing Note completing a northern trifecta.

“It was a confident ride from Jason on Ever Loyal,” Pike said. “He had to do plenty of work early on and when the leader rolled off 500m out our horse was left in front.

“He’s a lovely horse and we’ve always had a good opinion of him and he’s still learning and improving.”

Pike had earlier won the Pryde’s Easifeed Rating 75 (1800m) with the Waddell-ridden Sacred Empire.

Meanwhile, Grazia’s quest for black type ended successfully when she careered away with the Listed Christchurch Casino Spring Classic (2000m).

The Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards-trained Savabeel mare was ridden close to the pace by Sam Weatherley and when he asked an effort the five-year-old cruised clear to score by a wide margin from Aspen Lass. – NZ Racing Desk.