Perth’s premier jockey Willie Pike is usually spoilt for choice on any given raceday but he didn’t have many options when offered the ride on Top Of The Pops in the Furphy Hcp (1400m) at Belmont this Saturday.
Pike hasn’t been aboard any rivals of Top Of The Pops in recent months and he would have been impressed when the Oakland Park homebred came from last at the half-mile to finish third to Vane Tempest (Snippetson) over 1300m a fortnight ago. Bookmakers also took note and opened him a $4.20 equal-favourite for the final event at the Beaufine Stakes meeting.
Top Of The Pops (3g Spirit Of Boom – Molto Allegro by Fast ‘N’ Famous) is prepared by Dan Morton for Oakland Park owners Neville and Susan Duncan and is a younger half-brother to LR Perth Stakes winner Beethoven (Helmet).
Another half-brother by Blue Point (Ire) made $600,000 at this year’s Inglis Easter Yearling Sale. He was purchased by trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace on behalf of a partnership that includes Colin McKenna who has raced Group 1 winners like Jameka (MRC Caulfield Cup) and Merchant Navy (VRC Coolmore Stud Stakes).
Neville Duncan called the colt a ‘dude’ at Riverside Stables and early reports rate him a ‘machine’ with the mind of 10yo!
Top Of The Pops will finalise another strong book for Pike following a four-timer last Saturday highlighted by Ihts Closing Inn in the LR Belmont Oaks (2000m). She defeated Sesswa to lead home a black-type quinella for Oakland Park and its resident sire Sessions.
Unlike Top Of The Pops, Pike’s association with Ihts Closing Inn was far from a fait accompli. “Neville had to convince me her wins were better than I thought they were,” Pike recalled. “She’s so unassuming and, because I usually have so many options, I’m always looking for another ride that’s bigger, faster and stronger.
“Now she has a picket-fence next to her name and has proved us wrong just about every step of the way.”
Trainer Adam Durrant is more than happy to have Pike on board after the guarded start. “Ihts Closing Inn is racing out of her skin and will keep progressing over the next twelve months,” Durrant predicted. “Willie rides to her strengths and she really travels for him.”
Sessions (Lonhro) stands with Shooting To Win (Northern Meteor) at Oakland Park and they’re both priced at $11,000 service fees (inc GST) this season.