Racing

King Of War wins battle of the maidens

Superb ride by Perth champion William Pike makes all the difference

King Of War, a five-start maiden, broke the duck in good fashion in Race 2 yesterday, thanks to a superb ride by Perth champion jockey William Pike.

Pike, who is at his fourth one-day jaunt and is slowly gaining a cult following at Kranji, nearly went home with the biggest catch last Sunday, when an agonising runner-up aboard Bahana in the $1.35 million Group 1 Dester Singapore Gold Cup.

There were no such big races yesterday but Pike had a good book of rides - nine in total - and won on his second, aboard the James Peters-trained King Of War in the $35,000 Maiden Division 2 race over 1,400m

Benefiting from a smart jump from his middle gate, the Exceed And Excel four-year-old who races in the China Horse Club colours was able to slot into an ideal spot on the fence, settling in behind the speed set by Paragon Star (Benny Woodworth).

Turning for home, the leader was immediately collared by Race For Fame (Nooresh Juglall), with Pike waiting for a couple of strides before deciding between the inside or the outside for his final assault.

In the end, Pike opted for the outside, where King Of War lengthened up nicely in the last 200m and mowed down the front pair to score by half a length. It was his sixth start.

Sent out as the $11 favourite, King Of War recorded the winning time of 1min 22.84sec for the 1,400m on the long course.

"Originally, I wanted to wait for the inside run, but I thought I'd go to the outside instead just to give him more room to accelerate," said Pike, who returned to a warm reception from his growing local fan base at the winner's stall.

"He gave a nice kick and was able to get there where it mattered. I've been in and out a lot of times here, with many placings, and it's nice to get a win today."

Deputising for Peters, who is in New Zealand to attend the Ready To Run Sale of 2YOs, right-hand man Mick Lockett said the rise to 1,400m proved to be the winning formula.

"James wanted to step him up to 1,400m and the booking of Pike made it that much better," said Lockett.

"The horse jumped brilliantly and Pike was able to box-seat him. As he's got only a short burst over 100m to 150m, the fact that Pike waited that little bit longer before going to the outside probably gave him that little kick left in him at the finish.

"It's also a good thing he didn't go to the inside as he would have been chopped out by the other horse (Paragon Star), who rolled in.

"Pike said if he can settle better, he will be able to get 1,400m to a mile."

HORSE RACING