By Ray Hickson
He’s the man who knows Arcadia Queen better than anyone and jockey William Pike is adamant Perth’s star mare has the class to take the transition to Sydney in her stride.
The Wizard of the West, who set a new national record with 234 wins last season, is the number one rider for owner Bob Peters in Perth and clearly has a soft spot for Arcadia Queen saying she's the best horse he’s ridden.
The four-year-old will start favourite at her Sydney debut in Saturday’s Group 2 $200,000 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill as new trainer Chris Waller works out the path to The TAB Everest.
“I find it can go two ways with those star three-year-olds,’’ Pike said.
“Either they don’t live up to the hype or they go on to bigger and better. What she did as a three-year-old is pretty hard to do.
“She was a bit untapped so I’d really be surprised if she doesn’t go on to the next level.
“I know she’s the boom horse but she has shown most potential, she didn’t just fall in her races she won them and she’s a big strong horse that is bigger and stronger.
“I don’t see why she wouldn’t run well in these sprint races while she’s fresh.’’
James McDonald has the job of partnering Arcadia Queen in the Theo Marks, where she opened $2.10 favourite with TAB, and you get the impression from Pike if he were to be called up for the TAB Everest ride he’d be in Sydney with bells on.
Arcadia Queen joined the Chris Waller stable with a huge boom on her from the west after she won five from six in her only preparation which culminated in her thumping older horses at weight-for-age in the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m).
Although Pike isn’t privy to things like how she’s adapted to racing in the reverse direction what he can say is Arcadia Queen is a horse than can handle anything you throw at her.
“She’s basically just a good horse,’’ he said.
“While she was here she was versatile, she could sit outside the leader or sit second last and win races.
“You give her a good ride and she’ll give you a good kick. She’s no a one trick pony that has to be on speed or back.
“I don’t think she is a stayer, I know she got out to the 1800m but she was a three-year-old in good form and flying and didn’t know her limits.’’
Arcadia Queen was snapped up by The Star to run in the TAB Everest while stablemate Enticing Star, also owned by Peters, has the Chris Waller Racing slot.
Arcadia Queen runs third in a trial at Canterbury on September 2
Enticing Star, who has won both her Sydney trials, was due to make her local debut at Rosehill but Waller has elected to save her for another day - possibly the Group 2 Golden Pendant (1400m) on September 28 as her Everest lead up.
Pike has some strong views about Enticing Star worth keeping in mind, having ridden her in all 10 starts including her second in the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m), and says the two mares are very different rides.
“You felt like the winner the whole way in running on Arcadia Queen whereas Enticing Star is the opposite, she is a bit of a one trick pony,’’ he said.
“She used to get out the back and flop along and come with this crazy burst. Every time you were on her you’d wonder if it was going to be there.
“You’d be in an awkward spot and thinking you can’t win then she’d get there and win easy.
“She’d give you a heart attack thrill whereas on Arcadia Queen you just have your hopes up the moment you get on her.’’