They call him the wizard and he could need to be that and more if Willie Pike is to haul the quirky and enigmatic Godolphin galloper Kementari back into the winner’s circle at Flemington on Saturday.
In truth, Pike’s booking for the horse they call “Special K’’ may have more to do with a long-term view on another race rather than the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes at Flemington.
The Blue Army is keen to try to get Kementari over to the west to race in the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes in Perth in late November.
If he gets there, WA’s top hoop Pike would have first option for the ride.
“A few things have to play out in long-range plan to get Kementari over to the west,” Godolphin Australia boss Vin Cox said.
“Firstly, Willie has got to be allowed back into the state (under coronavirus regulations) and there are other things that have to fall into place.
“But we have been using Willie a fair bit while he has been in Melbourne this time.
“He is a very good rider and he has no real alliances or associations to other stables outside of Western Australia.”
Plenty of punters have dropped off Kementari, who has not won since his Randwick Guineas triumph in 2018.
He was last seen in the Brisbane winter carnival, finishing 14th in the Stradbroke when he was a hard luck story and didn’t see much clear air at vital times.
He goes into the Gilgai as a $12 chance in a TAB betting market which is headed by confirmed The Everest runners Tofane ($2.80fav) and Santa Ana Lane ($4.40).
Trainer James Cummings says Kementari, who has had the benefit of two trials in Sydney last month, will improve for the run but could be poised to run a big race first-up.
“He’s fit and ready to go fresh up,” Cummings said.
“His preliminaries have been excellent and the reports from his trackwork riders give me confidence.
“There may be some improvement to come in the appearance of his coat, but he’ll arrive in Melbourne a fit horse.”
Kementari’s colourful racing journey stalled for over a year when he was a failure at stud and then he returned to the track in March — with riders Hugh Bowman and Ryan Maloney having no luck on him in five runs since.
So can Pike be the magic man?
“Hopefully I can do something good with my chance on him,” Pike says.
Pike will ride Superstorm in the Group I Turnbull Stakes on Saturday and among his other rides on the day is rookie filly Naples, for Godolphin, in the Listed Maribyrnong Trial Stakes.
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Originally published as Can wizard conjure a Kementari magic act?