Champion jockey William Pike continued on his winning way, starting the new season in the same devastating form that saw him romp home with a sixth premiership, on July 31.
Not since novelist Richmal Crompton’s famous schoolboy character, William, has there been such another irrepressible and determined person with the same first name.
After earlier wins with Stagnite and Kheleva it was the rising star, Smoko, that added the icing to Pike’s cake in the feature listed race, the $100,000 Belmont Newmarket (1200m). It was Smoko’s sixth win from seven starts.
Pike had been in despair when Smoko tasted his first defeat, in the Beaufine Stakes, on July 12 after being trapped three wide but still finishing on for a game second.
Co-trainers Ross and Clint Price were hopeful that Pike could get across from barrier eight and have a better run than last start.
“Pike wanted to lead and the plan was to go forward early. Smoko has the power to work at the start and finish of a race,” Clint Price said.
Smoko was always untroubled and bounded away from them in the home straight, scoring by three lengths over Dominating with a wider margin to Celebrity Miss in third place.
Price said the pressure was less going in to this race than previously. “I thought in the Beaufine, at his first run back from a spell, he was one run off where I wanted him to be and I even thought that today in the Newmarket.”
But this time, even though Smoko was a short priced favourite, the stable was no longer defending an undefeated record.
Price said his star galloper was a 50-50 proposition for the Goodwood Sprint (1300m) on August 23.
“We are also not sure on whether to tackle the Eastern States or stay at home for the Ascot carnival. He has the ability to take on some of the Eastern States opposition.”
Trainer Vern Brockman said his winner of the sixth race, Kheleva, appreciated the 1400m after two average runs over 1000m and 1200m.
“William is terrific in a tight finish and Kheleva just keeps going. On that run he will get 1600m. Earlier I thought he had the makings of a Railway Stakes horse but I am not so sure now,” Brockman said.
Female apprentices continue to impress with Jerry Noske landing a double (Rive Gauche and Soldier’s Lass), while Lucy Warwick, (Shengmu), and Renee Forrest (Benito), book-ended the meeting with impressive wins.
By John Elsegood