By Michael Lee, Singapore Turf Club
Perennial Perth champion jockey William Pike will ride King Louis in the $1 million Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) on July 21.
Well on his way to an 11th title (he is on 135 winners with daylight behind – next is Chris Parnham on 40 winners), Pike has been a regular hit-and-run visitor at Kranji in the last three years. This will be his ninth stint – provided his licence is approved by the Singapore Turf Club – with the last one coming in November when he finished unplaced aboard Bahana in the Dester Singapore Gold Cup in November.
King Louis will be his third Singapore Derby ride, with his best result in the third Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge being his second place on Lim’s Samurai for Laurie Laxon in 2017.
Pike is the right go-to man for the Derby. In April, he broke Frank ‘Tiger’ Moore’s record in the WATC Derby with an eighth success aboard Regal Power for his main patron, Bob Peters.
From his amazing haul of more than 2,300 winners racked up over 16 seasons, he also boasts two Perth Cups and two Railway Stakes. Pike has yet to win any silverware in Singapore, but did boot home four winners on the undercard – all coming in 2017 at three of his flying stopovers – Chairman, Mr Crowe, King Of War and Really Capable.
King Louis’ trainer Ricardo Le Grange and owner Steve Levar are certainly rapt the 33-year-old star jockey has given the nod when approached.
The son of Medaglia d’Oro did not quite make his presence felt in the first two Legs – 10th in the Group 3 Silver Bowl (1400m) and eighth in the Group 2 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) – but Le Grange said he was just warming up to the task for the grand final.
“The first two Legs were short of his best. The 1800m is more suitable,” said the South African trainer who just returned from a quick holiday back home to watch the running of the Durban July last Saturday.
“He’ll actually be even better over 2000m and above, but there aren’t that many races like that here.”
Le Grange said that the four-time winner (1200m to 2000m) has pulled up in great order since his last start (Stewards’ Cup on June 30) and has been working a treat since.
“I can’t complain with what he’s done so far. The Derby is right on track for him,” said Le Grange whose stable fired a two-from-two (Ace Harbour and Pennywise) on Friday and came up with an unlucky second with Rocket Star in the penultimate Leg of the Singapore Golden Horseshoe series on Sunday.
“I was happy with the way he has pulled up after the Stewards’ Cup. His work has been fine and I’m sure he’ll be presented in good condition for the Derby.”