Greg Hickman has shared a few quiet moments with stable champion Pierata this week as he prepares to officially farewell the best horse he has trained.
Denied a fairytale finish when Tofane nabbed him on the line in the All Aged Stakes last Saturday, Pierata has bowed out a superstar in the eyes of his trainer.
“We have quiet moments every day. Everybody in the world is crying and I’m happy,” Hickman said.
“I am proud of him. It’s been really nice to have a horse of that quality to have trained.”
The trainer does not expect to get another horse as good as the Group One winner, who will be added to the Aquis Farm stallion roster, but he has a few handy candidates to keep the wins flowing.
Among them is three-year-old Eleven Eleven who tackles a strong edition of the Group Three Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
The winner of three of his 13 starts, the gelding’s record could soon receive a boost after he beat all but Alligator Blood in the Magic Millions Guineas at the Gold Coast in January.
Alligator Blood has since returned a positive swab and if an investigation by Queensland Racing stewards determines he should be disqualified, Eleven Eleven will be promoted to first.
Hickman has already landed a Magic Millions Guineas with Pierata and while Eleven Eleven might not have the class of his stablemate, the pair do share some common traits.
“He’s a pretty tough horse like Pierata, especially as he’s got older and stronger,” Hickman said.
“He is a funny horse. He only does enough in his trackwork. He doesn’t make you turn around and go, ‘wow, let’s go boy’.
“But he looks really well and he hasn’t taken a backwards step since his last run.”
Eleven Eleven resumed on a heavy track in the Arrowfield 3YO Sprint earlier this month, making headway from the back to finish fifth behind Splintex.
He has drawn the outside against a deep field that includes Tulloch Lodge duo Dawn Passage and Rule The World, along with the promising Indy Car for Anthony Cummings.
Cummings on Thursday remained unsure if Indy Car would run after he was the subject of an offer from Hong Kong pending the results of a veterinary examination.
Hickman feels Eleven Eleven will continue to improve but says the horse has done well and importantly, Nash Rawiller has been keen to stick with him.
“Im probably more of a third-up, fourth-up trainer but it looks a nice race and Nash was over the moon when he got off him the other day and was happy to stick with him,” Hickman said.
Hickman has not locked in any short-term plans for Eleven Eleven but hopes to aim him towards the Golden Eagle in the spring.