Top Perth jockey Willie Pike has stolen the show early in the Caulfield meeting with a winning treble, highlighted by a shock victory aboard Arcadia Queen, who claimed the scalp of boom galloper Russian Camelot.
Pike stalked Russian Camelot throughout and came from off his back to run him down in the closing stages, giving the rider his first Group One win in Victoria.
Pike said he didn’t think Arcadia Queen could beat Russian Camelot and went out with a plan to follow him and run second.
“I didn’t want to match motors with him. I wanted my horse to be strong to the line and that’s what happened,” Pike said.
“She settled well and she should be a good chance in the Cox Plate.”
The win also gave Arcadia Queen’s trainers Grant and Alana Williams their first Group One victory in Victoria.
Grant Williams admitted he was overcome with emotion as it had been a long 22 months since she claimed the 2018 Kingston Town Classic for the Perth trainers.
Her one victory since then was in last year’s Theo Marks Stakes during her stint with Sydney trainer Chris Waller.
The mare has struggled with hoof problems and Williams says a lot of hard work has been involved in getting her back to the winner’s circle.
“It’s a great team effort,” Williams said.
“(It was) a lot of months in the making and all the team at home, with Alana and the team, they got her home. They did a lot of recovery work and got her back.”
Williams said it felt like Pike was riding at Ascot and not Caulfield.
“It’s typical Willie Pike, cut the corner and got onto the back of the horse we were hoping to follow throughout the race,” Williams said.
“It’s great to see her back and we can look forward to the Cox Plate now.”
Arcadia Queen ($5.50) defeated Russian Camelot ($1.40 fav) by 1-1/4 lengths with Humidor ($8.50) another 2-1/2 lengths away third.
Russian Camelot’s trainer Danny O’Brien said he was beaten by an exceptional horse.
Arcadia Queen was Pike’s third winner for the day as he earlier saluted on Windstorm in the Weekend Hussler Stakes and scored a last-stride victory on Dirty Work in the Group Two Schillaci Stakes.
Co-trainer Wayne Hawkes said the win by Dirty Work ensured his future at Spendthrift Stud, which own him.
“He’s a stallion now. He’s a belting looking horse with a beautiful, beautiful attitude and it’s a good result for Spendthrift,” Hawkes said.
Dirty Work ($4.20) defeated Diamond Effort ($4 fav) by a short head with Octane ($13) a short neck away third.