Serial thriller Rangipo saved his best for last when he closed out a remarkable campaign with a thrilling victory in the group BMW New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie.
It was the seventh success of his three-year-old preparation, which featured group two wins in the Great Northern, Waikato and Avondale Guineas and a group one placing in the Levin Classic in the lead-up to Saturday's classic triumph.
"It's a great thrill " it's one of the classics and I've won a 2000 Guineas (Sacred Falls), an Oaks (More Than Sacred) and now the Derby so I've got the treble," Pike said.
"It's such a hard race to win and you've got to keep them sound while giving them a fair bit of racing."
While it was a first Derby for Pike, Rangipo credited his regular rider Vinnie Colgan with his sixth after past wins with Roysyn (1995), Zonda (1997), Hades (1999), Redoute's Dancer (2007) and Habibi (2013).
Colgan kept the gelding within easy reach of the pace and, as has been a trademark of his performances, he hit the front in the run home and wasn't to be denied.
"I had to use him a bit early, but I knew I had to do that to get where I wanted to be and once we got a position he switched off and travelled well," Colgan said.
"He was off the bridle a bit on the turn and I was worried, but he really showed his determination and he just keeps going."
What's The Story rattled home along the fence to run Rangipo to a short head with the winner's stablemate Raghu turning in another courageous run for third ahead of the fillies Capella and Valley Girl.
Meanwhile, a frustrating campaign with the top line sprinter Sacred Star was turned around at Ellerslie yesterday.
Beaten by wet ground in both the group one Railway Stakes and the group one Telegraph and a controversially over-watered Te Rapa track for the group one NRM Sprint, the six-year-old relished the firmer conditions to triumph in the group three Darley Plate.
The runner-up Red Striker, who was in receipt of five and a half kilos, settled toward the tail of the field and, once into the clear, she hit the line strongly ahead of Durham Town and Trepidation, another fast finisher.
- NZ Racing Desk.