Willie Pike quipped that thinking can be a dangerous thing for a jockey, and he had to do a bit of it to get Skyman into the clear to win the W J McKell Cup at Rosehill.
Pike shaped to go inside Surf Dancer as the field straightened for the run home, but Rachel King on the leader wasn’t going to present him with a run that easily, maintaining her mount’s course close to the rails and forcing Pike to switch around their heels.
“I did start to go there and then good jockeys, they know where you are,” Pike said.
“She drifted back and I momentarily had to think for a moment, which is always dangerous for a jockey.”
Pike and Skyman ($2.70 fav) were up to the task, quickly gathering momentum and surging clear to beat the consistent Dr Drill ($6) by 2-1/2 lengths, with the winner’s Chris Waller-trained stablemate Welsh Legend ($10) running on for third.
Nicknamed the ‘Wizard of the West’ for his success riding in his home state of Perth, Pike moved to Sydney at the start of the year due to Western Australia’s strict vaccination stance on jockeys.
He has quickly made his presence felt in the local jockeys’ ranks and Skyman’s win gave him a double for Waller after he earlier partnered Naval Seal to victory.
With Waller in England to oversee the Royal Ascot campaigns of King’s Stand Stakes winner Nature Strip and Platinum Jubilee contender Home Affairs, stable representative Damien Fitton was in charge of the team at Rosehill.
He praised Pike’s decision to settle Skyman closer to the speed and help deliver the horse a deserved stakes win.
“Ideally, we would have been a pair further back but when you put the top jockeys on in Australia, you leave it to them and William judged that perfectly,” Fitton said.
“Today looked to be the right race for him and it just panned out perfectly.”
Waller has claimed most of the feature staying races in Sydney but incredibly, Skyman was his first McKell Cup winner.