Champion Pike eyes another Mungrup success

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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Champion WA jockey William Pike will chase successive victories in the $100,000 Mungrup Stud Sprint (1300m) at Mt Barker on Sunday when he rides leading chance Ripper Rio.

A small field of only 10 runners will contest the region’s richest sprint race and only two of those will be off the minimum weight of 54kg.

Dream Lifter and Red Ora, who are both above the minimum, are the only two horses that have more than $300,000 in stake earnings in the field, which is disappointing given the strength of the race in the past five years.

Pike will be aboard Ripper Rio for leading metropolitan co-trainers Grant and Alana Williams in this year’s feature race, after booting home Rebel King to victory last year.

That was Pike’s first win in the Mungrup Stud Sprint and he has a strong combination with the Williams stable, who are shooting for their maiden success in the race.

Rebel King gets over Dream Lifter to win the 2017 Mungrup Stud Sprint (1300m) last year.
Camera IconRebel King gets over Dream Lifter to win the 2017 Mungrup Stud Sprint (1300m) last year. Credit: Laurie Benson

Ripper Rio was not knocked around in a comfortable 1000m trial win on January 8 and has a terrific fresh record with one win and three minor placings from five first-up attempts.

The six-year-old will have to overcome barrier 10, however, and none of his six career wins have been over 1300m. A total of 15 nominations were received for the Mungrup Stud Sprint but the field lacks the depth of quality it has in previous editions.

Watermans Bay won the race in 2013 before competing in major sprint races on the East Coast and finishing with more than $1 million in prize money.

Comfysofa raced at listed level after his victory in 2014 and 2015 winner Dawn Approach has won more than $500,000 in career earnings after also being a regular at listed level.

Local star Dream Lifter ran in last year’s Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes following his 2016 triumph while Rebel King has raced consistently at listed level to also have above $500,000 in stake earnings.

Red Ora will have his first start for new trainer Steve Wolfe in the race but has not tasted success since the 2016 listed Scenic Blast Stakes. Stable jockey Shaun McGruddy will take the ride on the six-year-old, who will carry 54.5kg, but Wolfe, searching for a third Mungrup title, was not overly optimistic about his winning hopes.

“He hasn’t won a race for over two years,” Wolfe said.

“He ran third last year and is in good order.

“The weights suit Red Ora but there are always two or three tough horses in it — there is never a weak race.”

Dream Lifter will again have to set a new weight record in the race to become a dual winner, lumped with 59.5kg as top weight.

After his emotional win in 2016, the star Albany sprinter finished second to Rebel King last year and will jump from gate five for jockey Mitchell Pateman as they chase more success.

Bindaree Lady (left), is a local chance in Sunday’s Mungrup Stud Sprint at Mt Barker.
Camera IconBindaree Lady (left), is a local chance in Sunday’s Mungrup Stud Sprint at Mt Barker. Credit: Western Racepix

Trained by Paul Hunter, Dream Lifter finished 11th in the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) back in November and trialled with Red Ora in Albany earlier this month ahead of his resumption.

Wolfe also has Chasing Chaos in the race while the other local runner is Dixie Solly’s Bindaree Lady as the veteran trainer aims for a third Mungrup Stud Sprint.

The race is set down for 4.25pm on Sunday as part of the Grapes and Gallops meeting, with the seven-race card getting under way at 1.35pm.


Race 1: Sweet Talkin’

Race 2: Desert Thorn

Race 3: Mr Pago

Race 4: Defiantly

Race 5: Count Kala

Race 6: Ripper Rio

Race 7: Zedfire Express

Best Bet: Mr Pago

Value: Defiantly

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