Pike aiming for back-to-back G1 wins

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Willie Pike had a day out at Ascot on Saturday with five wins, including the feature Group 1 Railway Stakes aboard Western Empire.

But ‘The Wizard from the west’ has quickly shifted his focus to this Saturday and his quest to win the G1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m).

“It would be nice, I haven’t been able to get the Winterbottom since it became a Group 1, so it’d be nice if I could add that to my resume,” Pike said.

After already claiming the Railway Stakes with boom gelding Western Empire, who is now a raging favourite to win a second G1 in Saturday week’s G1 Kingston Town Classic, Pike is hoping for a treble of elite-level wins.

“One year there I nearly did the clean sweep of all three and I run second in the Winterbottom, the only leg that let me down,” the star jockey said.

“It’d be nice if I could possibly nab all three, it’d be nice to do that in a calendar year.”

Pike will ride the Grant and Alana Williams-trained mare Graceful Girl in the feature and will be hoping to turn the tables on short-priced favourite Elite Street after running second to the gelding in the G3 Colonel Reeves Stakes.

“She ran a great race the other day, got beat half, three-quarters of a length by Elite Street. She’s got the right attitude this horse,” he said.

“All I can really say is that if I can get a bit of luck around the bend, I know she’ll be attacking the line and I’m sure she’ll be in it at some stage.”

And while there’s no time to dwell on results in racing, Pike says it’s hard to gloss over what was a simply incredible display from Western Empire in the Railway Stakes.

“I’ve watched the replay quite a few times now, and it happened, digesting it all Western Empire was quite dominant and I think it was a very good run,” he said.

“I think the form would’ve held up even if there were eastern-state horses in the race.

“Hopefully he can emulate a Regal Power, that seems to be the sort of trajectory he’s on.

“I think he’s more than good enough to follow across to the east if I got the phone call to go with him.”

Pike backers left Ascot on Railway Stakes Day with full wallets after five winners, but with a bit of luck it could’ve been six or even seven.

“It would’ve been nice if I could’ve picked off one of those last two just to really cap the day off, but I suppose let’s not be greedy,” Pike said.

“To end up with five for the day, if you could’ve told me that at the start of the day, you’d be pretty happy with yourself.”

And when asked about the pressures of riding short-priced favourites in the later races of the day, Pike says the pressure of carrying thousands of punters across the country doesn’t faze him.

“You block it out, everyone being on it doesn’t change the fact I want to win the race anyway, I’m already doing my best,” he said.

“The times I feel bad are when I make a mistake, when the horse should’ve won and it’s my fault, then I definitely feel a bit guilty.”

www.racing.com

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