By Ray Hickson
Trainer Greg Hickman couldn’t have asked for a better start to Pierata’s campaign aimed at The TAB Everest but he’s thrown up the idea of a shock change of program for his stable star.
Pierata finished second in a 1000m trial at Warwick Farm on Friday, trailing front runner Cradle Mountain all the way, much to the delight of Hickman and jockey Tommy Berry.
Then the trainer got to thinking – is the Group 3 Concorde Stakes (1000m) at Randwick on September 7 the ideal starting point with the likes of Redzel, Nature Strip, In Her Time, Santa Ana Lane, Zoustyle, Sunlight, Osborne Bulls and Ball Of Muscle all likely to be headed there.
“I could throw a wobbly in, if that race is going to be a bit competitive maybe I could run him in the Show County (1200m on August 24) but he’d carry 61kg,’’ Hickman said.
“We have to see how he pulls up and what we do, it’s just another option. I think we will stick to the A-plan but that’s just thinking out loud.
“It’s going to be a bit cat and mouse along the way. I think you’ve got to focus on your horse, as long as he gets through the runs well and grand final day is the Everest.
“If you pick up something along way well and good. Whether he wins or not I’d just like to see the horse make a progression from race to race into the grand final.’’
Last season it seemed all Pierata was doing was auditioning for his Everest attempt – he won the Missile Stakes (1200m) first-up in August and progressed through the spring to smash his rivals in the Group 3 Sydney Stakes (1200m) on the Everest undercard.
He added a Group 1 win to the CV in the autumn taking out the All Aged Stakes (1400m) and his owners delayed retirement to stud for a shot at Australia’s richest race.
Pierata, now a five-year-old, is $8 third favourite with TAB for the $14m TAB Everest (1200m) run on October 19 and the entire runs in the Aquis Farm slot.
Hickman wanted to start the preparation with a quiet trial and got that wish, not only did he trial comfortably he was on his best behaviour all morning.
“I thought it was absolutely perfect,’’ Hickman said.
“It was a quiet trial to let him go through his gears, nothing you wouldn’t do in trackwork and you get the bonus of horses around him.
“Cradle Mountain was always going to do what he did and we just sat there and did what he had to do.
Pierata runs second in his Warwick Farm trial on August 9
“He didn’t have his blinkers on, he was a little bit wound up but nothing you couldn’t manage. It made me think I’m in a good place with him.’’
Berry said he was most impressed with Pierata’s barrier manners and the fact he was able to land in second place without expending any energy.
“He can be slow away because he can be a bit funny in the gates but he was well behaved and one of the first out of the gates which helped a lot,’’ Berry said.
“You want to see then come back well and trial like they are ready to step up to the big stage.
“There’s nowhere to hide for him this preparation, he’s going to be up against strong fields all the way through so it was good to see him come back in great form.’’
If Hickman continues with the ‘A-Plan’ then Pierata will trial again, with blinkers on, in around two weeks before taking his place in a star-studded Concorde Stakes next month.