Tony Pike is hoping form behind NZ Derby favourite Volkstok’n’barrell will prove the best guide to the Group One Levin Classic.
Pike saddles up Huka Eagle for the 1600m feature for three-year-olds at Trentham on Saturday, hoping the Swiss Ace gelding can make it four wins from five starts.
His only defeat to date was a narrow loss at Ellerslie to Volkstok’n’barrell, who himself has only been beaten once and is the clear New Zealand Derby favourite.
Huka Eagle is second favourite for the Classic behind leading filly Sardaaj and Pike says his charge is in top shape for the race.
“We’re really happy with him. He’s a pretty casual trackworker but he puts it all together on race day and we’re really happy with his condition,” Pike told NZ Thoroughbred Marketing.
“Sardaaj will be hard to beat but Volkstok’n’barrell only got him on the line the other day and he keeps putting his hand up.”
Sardaaj herself has only been beaten once, by Saavoya in the Eight Carat Classic at Ellerslie.
Saavoya franked that form when winning the Royal Stakes a week later.
“It was her first run for a while and this is probably a step down in some regards,” Saavoya’s trainer Stephen Marsh said.
Pike and Marsh also have runners in the other Group One of the day, the Telegraph (1200m). Pike lines up Sacred Star while Marsh has Ruud Awakening.
Both are $18 chances, with the market headed by South Islander Soubrettes, winner of the Stewards Handicap at Riccarton.
Natuzzi is second favourite, while Matamata trainer Danica Guy has two leading chances – In Style, winner of the Railway at Ellerslie, and the highly promising Tomorrowland.