Tony Pike's early introduction to racing came at the highest level and it's a standard he's still living up to.
The successful Cambridge trainer was brought up in Hawkes Bay where his father and mother, Wayne and Vicki, were hoteliers and thoroughbred enthusiasts.
"I grew up in hotels and Dad had a couple of horses," Pike said. "One of the first ones was Drum."
Trained by Don Sellwood, the outstanding Drum won 12 races including the group one Auckland Cup, the group two Trentham Stakes and at group three level the Waikato Cup, Harcourt Stakes and the Thames Valley Stakes.
"We moved to Cambridge in 1987 and I started riding trackwork there and was quite good at show jumping," Pike said. "When I turned 17 I decided to go to university and I did a management degree at Waikato.
"After that I did a couple of years at New Zealand Bloodstock and then worked in an accounting office in Hamilton, but I found that too tedious and boring.
"At that time we bought a lifestyle block and built stables near the racecourse - back then they were struggling to sell them. The location was great and we had 24 boxes and over the years it has grown with the success we've had.
"Back in 2000, I had the family horses and a few for outside clients. I had between 15 and 20 and tried to develop them and sell them on."
Pike's training career later gained serious momentum through his association with Raffles Farm.
"They came on board and Sacred Falls was a huge horse for all of us and it's grown from there," he said.
Sacred Falls was unbeaten in his six starts for Pike, who was then training with Mark Donoghue, and following his victory in the group one NZ 2000 Guineas he joined Chris Waller's Sydney stable.
Pike - who also did the early work with future Waller stars Preferment and Kermadec - has also enjoyed group one success for Raffles with Sacred Star (The Telegraph, NRM Sprint), More Than Sacred (NZ Oaks) and most recently Sacred Elixir (J. J. Atkins Stakes).
"I've got some great owners that have come to the stable in the last few years like John Thompson and Mark Wyborn and Robin Peel-Walker," Pike said.
Pike recently celebrated his greatest day as a trainer when Provocative and Sacred Elixir credited him with a group one double at Eagle Farm.
He has also enjoyed ongoing success with his parents in the family breeding and racing operation.
"We've been involved together for a few years now and developed some really nice mares," he said.
- NZ Racing Desk