By Ray Hickson
Trainer Greg Hickman wants to give stable star Pierata every chance to bow out of racing in the autumn as a great sprinter not just a classy one.
Pierata is a rare stallion prospect given he’s shown durability by racing through his five-year-old season after the owners delayed retirement to contest last year's TAB Everest.
It’s still about six weeks until Pierata has his first trial but Hickman has a three race program pencilled in, culminating in a defence of his Group 1 All Aged Stakes title, that would potentially see him retire a multiple Group 1 winner with a reputation hard to come by at stud.
“I’d like to see him come back this time in undefeated,’’ Hickman said.
“I’m just trying to get him to be the best horse he can possibly be.
“If you go back through his career and if he has a bit of luck, or we’d ridden him a bit differently, he could have won six or eight straight.’’
Pierata enjoyed a successful spring where he showed off his sizzling turn of foot with a narrow defeat to Redzel in the Concorde Stakes before he downed Classique Legend to win The Shorts (1100m).
Pierata wins the Redzel Stakes in November
He didn’t have the best of luck running fifth in the TAB Everest but showed his class sitting three wide in taking out the inaugural $1m Redzel Stakes (1300m) on November 2, which was his ninth win from 23 starts and lifted his earnings to over $5.6 million.
Hickman said each time Pierata returns from a break he develops that little bit more, and his race record says he improves too, and that’s certainly been the case this time as he is about to kick off pacework in his final preparation.
“He looks very well, if he didn’t have a bit of a tummy on him he’d be ready to race,’’ he said.
“Every preparation he’s got better. When he won a two-year-old race he only just won, he was green and all the rest of it. Corey Brown said ‘I’d go anywhere to ride this bloke’.
“The first time he was an immature horse who couldn’t handle the work. Because he’s matured every time he comes back in I’m training a different horse.’’
Pierata is scheduled to trial twice before he resumes in the Group 1 $700,000 Galaxy (1100m) on March 21 – he was beaten a whisker by Nature Strip in the race last year.
He’ll then progress to the Group 1 $2.5m TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) on April 4, Day 1 of The Championships, and the Group 1 $600,000 All Aged Stakes (1400m) two weeks later.
At this stage Hickman expects that Tommy Berry will retain the ride for the carnival and it’d be an understatement to say the horse is going to leave a hole in the stable come the end of the autumn.
“Watching him work you can just see he’s a special horse, it’s like poetry in motion,’’ he said.
“I could sit there and watch him all day.’’