Easter Stakes success could launch Lock's Hiflyer into elite races
Wanganui jockey Jonathan Parkes has had a wonderful summer plundering northern prizes.
Parkes has won the Railway and NRM Sprint on Start Wondering, as well as a listed sprint at Te Rapa, and his other major wins have included the Avondale Guineas, Eight Carat Classic, City Of Auckland Cup and closer to home the Eulogy Stakes, Thompson Handicap and Marton Cup.
He has a chance to add Saturday's $200,000 Group II Easter Stakes (1600m) at Elerslie to his tally aboard Hiflyer.
Parkes has to watch his weight, and while he's currently fourth on the jockeys' premiership, his focus is on winning the big races.
"I've been lucky this season because I've got on some very good horses, like Start Wondering, Volpe Veloce, St Jean and Gingernuts," he said.
Parkes rode Hiflyer for the first time earlier this month at Wellington where they comfortably accounted for the two-time Group I winner Nashville on a heavy track.
"Hiflyer showed his class that day on a track that didn't suit him," Parkes said. "He's obviously classy and will be a good ride in the Easter."
The Tavistock gelding's Te Aroha trainer Peter Lock thinks the horse will be a chance in his toughest test to date.
"His work during the week has been first class," Lock said. "I think he's as fit as hands can make him."
Nagging at Lock is Hiflyer's inexperience and lack of maturity.
"He's got a great turn of foot and gets there easy [in his races] and then tends to gawk around a bit.
"Saturday's field is by far the best he has come up against but he's knocking on the door of a black-type win."
Win, lose or draw in the Easter, Lock is likely to send Hiflyer for a spell resisting temptations of a Queensland campaign as he concentrates on winning a Group I in the future.
Second favourite behind unbeaten Let Me Roar ($5.50), Hiflyer ($6.20) is the only other runner at a single figure quote with last year's winner Sound Proposition at double figure odds along with class gallopers Scapolo, All Roads, Battle Time and El Pescado.
Saturday's Group II Valachi Downs Championship Stakes (2100m) at Ellerslie is the second feature on the card.
Dreamcrafter and Veearma are the two fillies taking on the 11 geldings in the 3-year-old feature which spells the end of the road for both this season as they head to the spelling paddock.
TAB bookmakers have Dreamcrafter at $16 and Veearma at $26 in a market headed by the boys, Charles Road and Tavidream (both $3.30), Camino Rocoso ($4.80) and Comin'through ($6.20).
Parkes rides Gorbachev ($18) in the race and the pair have strong upset prospects.
He wasn't too far away when sixth behind Charles Road over 2000m at Awapuni last start and was a tidy third the start prior behind Saturday's Sydney Cup contender Rock On - that's good form.
Gorbachev has won two of his six starts and for trainer Bryce Newman but, like his last start in the Manawatu Classic, has a wide draw to overcome on Saturday.