Champion jockey William Pike takes seven midweek mounts as he faces countdown

Headshot of Ernie Manning
Ernie ManningThe West Australian
Champion jockey William Pike enjoyed victory at Pinjarra Racecourse.
Camera IconChampion jockey William Pike enjoyed victory at Pinjarra Racecourse. Credit: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

Champion jockey William Pike is booked for seven mounts at Belmont Park on Wednesday as he faces a non-COVID vaccination countdown which will restrict him to only four more WA race meetings.

Pike, 35, has outlined his objections to vaccination and announced a shift to Sydney tracks ahead of the mandatory double vaccinating of WA racing participants by February 5.

The Wizard will be expelled from WA racing, but NSW jockeys do not have to be vaccinated to ride in races.

After Wednesday, it is likely Pike will ride at just Ascot on Saturday, the Pinjarra fixture scheduled for Sunday and a midweek program at Belmont on February 2.

“William is due to finish riding in WA on February 2,” the star hoop’s racing manger Dale Verhagen told TABradio. “We expect he’ll begin taking Sydney mounts in mid-February.”

Pike, returning this Wednesday after an eight-day suspension for careless riding, has not raced since he landed a winning treble at Ascot last Saturday week.

Leading owners Bob and Sandra Peters have engaged Pike, their number one jockey for almost 20 years, to ride Arcadia Grace, Mrs America and Restful on Wednesday.

Peters is adopting a business-as-usual approach ahead of Pike’s imminent exit. He said he is pleased to have Pike aboard his horses, but is reserved about predicting wins on Wednesday.

“The three that William’s riding for us at Belmont are young horses early in their current preparations,” he said.

“Arcadia Grace is racing first-up and Restful’s having only her second race this time in. Mrs America needs more distance.

“This week, we’re just hoping for the best.”

Pike forfeited the mount on the Peters-owned Midnight Blue in the Perth Cup on January 1 after it was announced double vaccinations were mandatory for racing participants at Ascot on cup day. Midnight Blue won the big race ahead of vaccination rules being temporarily eased, allowing Pike to resume on January 2.

Peters says he respects Pike’s stance against vaccination and his objection to COVID testing. After Pike’s departure, he plans to split mounts on Perth runners between Chris Parnham, Clint Johnston-Porter and Patrick Carbery.

Pike said his objection to vaccination had mostly been influenced by his severe reaction to a flu shot.

“That is definitely one of the main reasons why,” Pike told RSN927 last week. “I wasn’t sick when I tried to do a preventative measure (influenza vaccination) and I got really sick.

“It didn’t add up in my mind to try that again.”

He later said his bad flu shot reaction was more than 15 years ago.

Commenting further on his anti-vax stance, The Wizard said: “I have my own personal and private reasons for it.”

“I’m just a bloke trying to carry on. I’m just trying to make choices that I think are right for me.”

Verhagen said leading Sydney trainers James Cummings, Team Hawkes and Annabel Neasham had told him they were keen to book Pike for NSW race rides.

Pike’s other Belmont mounts on Wednesday are Compak, Total Lockdown, Men’s Club and Star Storm.

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