By Ray Hickson
Trainer Greg Hickman credits talented three-year-old Pierata for putting the “spring back in his step’’.
Group class horses have come through Hickman’s Warwick Farm stables before but in the very competitive sales market its getting harder and harder for the smaller trainer to snag a potential star.
With Pierata, Hickman says though he got lucky he, like a lot of trainers, took a punt.
“You always wonder (when you’ll get a good one) but that’s why you’re always sticking you’re neck out,’’ he said.
“That’s why I put my hand up for $160,000 without having an owner. Many of us do the same, go to the sales and stick our necks out and try our luck and I was lucky enough to pick the right one.’’
That $160,000 gamble has so far returned $1.98 million and Pierata has only had eight starts, largely due to a near perfect Queensland summer culminating in his Magic Millions Guineas win.
Pierata, who returns to Sydney for the Group 2 $400,000 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill on Saturday, could be the best horse Hickman has trained.
That’s a decent call but the trainer explains the logic behind his theory.
“This bloke has been unassuming, yes he’s done everything right but he’s not doing anything different to the other horses,’’ he said.
“The only thing with this bloke is there’s nothing wrong with him.
“Sportsman had a foot problem, we never saw the best of Sir Dex, he could have been a superstar if he stayed sound, Murjilisa Lass didn’t go on, if Private Secretary had been sound she could have been anything too.
“If he stays sound that’s why he’ll end up being better. I’m just happy to be racing in Group races again, having some nice horses around.’’
The task at hand for Pierata on Saturday is no easy one. He’s facing arguably the best Hobartville field in several years – Group 1 winners Ace High, Capital Gain and Trapeze Artist, the exciting Kementari, plus Siege Of Quebec, Assimilate and D’Argento.
Pierata is a $7 chance with TAB in the Hobartville with impressive Eskimo Prince winner Kementari the $2.30 favourite ahead of Trapeze Artist ($3.90).
Hickman said he respects the opposition but takes heart in the fact Corey Brown wants to stick with his colt.
“My jockey loves my horse and he’s done well through the week,’’ he said.
“If he comes out and beats them all it’ll be happy days. You don’t get many horses that have had eight starts and won nearly $2m and if worse comes to worse we can go back (to the Gold Coast) next year.
“He’s just improved every time he’s gone around, he’s done everything right and whatever happens happens.’’
While Pierata is nominated for several races through the carnival, Hickman said if he happens to win on Saturday then take out the Group 1 $1m Girvan Waugh Randwick Guineas (1600m) he’d likely spell the colt.
Hickman may throw unraced two-year-old Knieval in the deep end in the Group 2 $250,000 TAB Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) to find out quickly if he’s a Slipper contender.
Knieval is the rank outsider at $61 in the seven-horse field but the trainer is bullish about the colt’s ability despite not being exposed under race conditions yet.
He may yet decide to save the youngster for a two-year-old race at Rosehill next Wednesday, which will possibly feature boom Godolphin youngster Wagner, but the small field on Saturday is tempting him.
“He’s done well, he looks enormous and I thought his trial was super the other day,’’ he said.
“If he’s going to go to the Slipper he has to run and we have to get some prizemoney.
“I think Wednesday is going to be a very hot race too. We were going that way originally but we still have that option open.’’