Ingratiating winning the Talindert Stakes at Flemington with Damien Oliver aboard (Image: Racing Photos)
It is not the most common way to be booked for a first Blue Diamond Stakes ride, but star jockey Willie Pike doesn't mind how he wound up with the prime mount aboard Godolphin colt Ingratiating for Saturday's feature.
Pike had to wait until mid-morning on Wednesday to learn what horse he would be aboard in Saturday's $1.5 million race after fellow rider Damien Oliver made his decision to pick stablemate Anamoe over Ingratiating, who is the last-start winner of the Listed Talindert Stakes at Flemington.
"Either way it went, I was happy to take whichever one as they are both good rides," Pike explained.
"It's my first Blue Diamond. I've seen it and been around it plenty of times and it's pretty exiting racing really with young horses trying to make a name for themselves."
A few were puzzled with Oliver's pick as Anamoe, who failed narrowly to win the Prelude at his last start, drew barrier 15 and Ingratiating seven, which Pike reckons is about the right draw for his colt.
"Seven is a very nice alley in a race like this," he said. "There will be high pressure no doubt, so hopefully I can stay out of that battle and be strong late."
Pike has an amazing book of five rides. Aside from Ingratiating, all are for owner Bob Peters and trainers Grant and Alana Williams.
"It's a fantastic book of rides with some very nice horses and hopefully Caulfield can keep being good to me," he said.
Last spring, Pike rode four winners on Caulfield Guineas Day, including the feature on Ole Kirk and the Caulfield Stakes aboard Arcadia Queen.
His day on Saturday begins with Perfect Jewel ($1.90 favourite) in the G3 Mannerism Stakes, before he partners super mare Arcadia Queen in the G1 Futurity Stakes.
"I think she's more forward than where she was last campaign first-up," Pike said of last spring's dual G1 winner.
"It's a good race - it's a Group 1 and they don't give them away, but she'll go good.
"I don't see the 1400 metres as being a problem. I think she's got the class to run at any distance."
After his ride on Ingratiating in the Blue Diamond, he rides Celebrity Queen in the G1 Oakleigh Plate and then finishes with his All-Star Mile winner of last year, Regal Power, in the G2 Peter Young Stakes.
The Perth-based star has had to endure another quarantine period to be free to ride on Saturday and he admits that is increasing his excitement to ride on the triple G1 day.
"I have a few different rules to abide by, but It hasn't been a hassle really," he said. "You just do it, although you do get to the stage where you want to get out the door."