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Kiwi trainer Tony Pike has always had a dig at fellow countryman James McDonald for rarely riding for him, however the deck is about to be reshuffled as the pair are set to combine for a shot at the Group 1 Victoria Derby on Saturday

James McDonald to pair with trainer Tony Pike

In her most recent outing in the Geelong Classic, Damien Lane rode Tutukaka to victory for the Pike stable. However, Lane is now set to miss a lucrative Derby Day after being suspended for breaching whip rules and so Pike has turned to fellow countryman McDonald for help.

GIven the closeness of Pike and McDonald’s friendship it’s surprising the pair have only teamed up together on the odd occasion.

One such occasion was when The Bostonian narrowly missed a Group 1 title in the George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill early last year making the pair even more determined to make the Derby count. 

When asked recently about the new partnership, Pike was quick to take a light hearted approach.

“James has hardly ever ridden for me, he’s too bloody hard to get,” Pike quipped.

“He is far too high profile for a little battling Kiwi trainer like myself.

“He is actually one of my best mates, he comes on a Queenstown golf tour pretty regularly and I give it to him all the time about hardly ever riding for me.

“We got close with The Bostonian in the George Ryder, so hopefully we can go one better on Saturday.”

Tony Pike has won 5 Australian Group 1s throughout his career as a trainer of which 4 have come in the Sunshine State of Queensland. 

Should McDonald get $9 chance Tutukaka over the line first on Saturday then it would give Pike his first Victorian Group 1 title.

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