Connections celebrate Pierata’s Group Two win at Randwick on Saturday (Lisa Grimm)
Greg Hickman isn’t about to get ahead of himself. The Warwick Farm trainer’s star performer, Pierata, raced right into $13 million The Everest calculations with a fighting victory in the Group Two Mostyn Copper Group Missile Stakes over 1200m at Royal Randwick – Australia’s first feature race for the 2018/19 racing season – but there are no immediate plans for the 4YO’s next start. Or the start after for that matter.
“We’re just going to let the dust settle and make some plans later in the week,” Hickman reveals. “It would be great to be offered a spot in the Everest, but an Epsom Handicap would be very nice too. There’s lot of options, so that’s why we’re not in any hurry.
“Really, the ultimate aim for this bloke is to win a race at the top level … he’s a well bred son of Pierro and has tremendous value as a stallion prospect if he can knock off a Group One.”
Currently, two slots remain in the Everest and it was widely considered that Kementari would fill one of them if successful in the Missile, but a gritty Pierata hit the line full of running to hold off the Godolphin trained race favourite by a neck.
(Even without a confirmed slot, Kementari sits on the second line of Everest betting at $6, while Pierata is considered an $11 chance).
“The big difference on Saturday is that we were fresh and not coming off a big Brisbane campaign,” Hickman adds. “He (Pierata) has done really well and any doubts about his ability have gone now. He’s a very good horse.”
James McDonald, replacing Pierata’s regular partner Corey Brown who is currently overseas, was duly impressed with the way his mount lifted for the occasion: “All he wants to do is please you,” McDonald enthused. “He got to them quick and has great acceleration … as a racehorse, he ticks all the right boxes.”
Having his 11th start in the Missile, Pierata has won five with a further four placings for $2,362,650 in stakes. A winner at two in April 2017, Pierata was third in the Group Two BRC Sires’ Produce, but then won the Group Three Vo Rogue last December and the $2 million Magic Millions 3YO Guineas a fortnight later. Group One success also eluded Pierata in March’s Randwick Guineas, finishing second to Kementari with Trapeze Artist (favourite for the Everest) third.
Regardless of his residual value as a sire, Pierata has already justified – several times over – the faith of Hickman who purchased the flashy youngster for only $160,000 from the Kitchwin Hills draft at the 2016 Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale. The sixth foal of Group winning Flying Spur mare, November Flight, Pierata is a half brother to four winners including Group Two winning 2YO and Group One Golden Rose placed, Ashokan.
“Up at the Magic Millions I really liked him (Pierata) as a type, but another attraction was that I had a horse – Taxmeifyoucan ($541,730) – who had raced against Ashokan and I’d really liked the look of him, so that encouraged me to have a closer look at Pierata,” Hickman explains.
“There’s quite a lot of owners in Pierata and while some are existing clients of the stable, there’s a number of new investors in the horse too. It’s fairly safe to say that they’re all pretty happy with the way he’s going.”
With only around 20 horses in work at any given time, Hickman has a knack for turning relatively cheap buys into money spinners: 4-time Group winner, Sportsman was purchased for $8,000 and won over $780,000 … Six Dex, a $12,000 buy weighed in with over $830,000 in earnings … Group One Flight Stakes winner, Royal Purler cost $8,000 and won $330,000 plus.
So, which is Hickman’s favourite? Sportsman? “Your favourite is always your last winner,” Hickman says with a laugh. “So, I guess that means it’s Pierata, but don’t worry, we had a couple of runners at Gundagai on Sunday that both got beaten, so we came back to earth pretty quickly!”