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Derby dreams for Belle's baby brother

5 min read
Tutukaka (NZ) (Tavistock {NZ}) may long live in the shadow of his record-breaking half-sister Melody Belle (NZ) (Commands), but trainer Tony Pike has ambitions to target some Group 1 success of his own with the 2-year-old, who tackles stakes company for the first time on Saturday in the Listed Authentic Security The Phoenix at Eagle Farm.

Cover image courtesy of Race Images

With 14-time Group 1 winner Melody Belle now headed for a date with Written Tycoon at Yulong Stud after she was recently secured for $2.6 million at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale, there will be a degree of attention on what Tutukaka can produce at just his third start, as he looks for his first win.

Pike purchased him for NZ$250,000 from the draft of Haunui Farm at the 2020 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale and saw some of the same precocious traits which saw his half-sister win races such as the G1 Manawatu Sires' Produce, the R. Listed Karaka Million and the G2 BRC Sires' Produce as a 2-year-old.

However, Pike was very much aware from the beginning that being by the late Tavistock (NZ), he was a different mould of horse.

"He's probably got a lot more size and scope to him. He is going to end up a very big 3-year-old. I don’t think they are the same types. She was obviously a bit more brilliant than this bloke is," Pike told TDN AusNZ.

"He's quite a mature horse, despite being that big scopey type. For a horse of his pedigree, he is very mature and he has got plenty of strength. That is why he is able to handle a trip and a decent 2-year-old campaign like this."

Tutukaka (NZ) as a yearling

Pike debuted Tutukaka at Hastings back in April, where he ran a close-up second and then brought him to Australia, looking to give him the experience and fitness to target the G1 VRC Derby in the spring.

He has since contested a 2-year-old race at Sunshine Coast off a four-week break, where he also finished second, and will look to peak in three weeks' time in the Listed Tattersall's Life Member S. at Eagle Farm on June 26.

"He seems to have really improved off his first-up run. He's a lovely, big, scopey horse by Tavistock and he's only had the two runs. He's over there for a purpose, to get the mileage into him and hopefully to get some prizemoney to set him up to the VRC Derby in the spring," Pike said.

"He's (Tutukaka) over there (Australia) for a purpose, to get the mileage into him and hopefully to get some prizemoney to set him up to the VRC Derby in the spring." - Tony Pike

"He is going to improve a lot off that second run at the Sunny Coast. He was left a little flat-footed and was a bit off the bridle, but he was strong late.

"You would think the 1500 metres at Eagle Farm will suit, whether that might still be a touch short for him, we will find out tomorrow. He should be a good each-way chance with natural improvement. His main target while he is there is the 1800-metre race later in June."

Tony Pike

Building a base for Derby destiny

Pike said that Tutukaka has handled the trip to Australia and new routine in Brisbane with aplomb and hopes that it can be a good launching point for his greater spring ambitions.

"We had to geld him, because Tavistocks aren’t the easiest horses to keep as colts. Since they have gelded him, he has turned into a real gentleman. He is loving his time over there and is a nice laid-back horse," he said.

"We've done a similar program before with Sacred Elixir, all be it he was at a higher level as a 2-year-old. We are running into very Heavy tracks here in New Zealand and we were running out of time and tracks to get the miles into him.

"The trip away to Queensland does them a world of good mentally and there was a few nice races over the right trips for him as well."

"The trip away to Queensland does them a world of good mentally and there was a few nice races over the right trips for him as well." - Tony Pike

Five years ago, Sacred Elixir (NZ) (Pour Moi {Ire}) blossomed in Queensland, coming off a Sunshine Coast maiden win to later claim the G1 JJ Atkins S. He would finish second in the G1 Victoria Derby the following spring and Pike is hoping Tutukaka can go one better.

"He has always looked to me that he would excel over ground and the VRC Derby, which is normally not the strongest race in the world, he is the sort of horse with his maturity, will be able to handle a preparation towards it," he said.

The Bostonian (NZ) winning the G1 Kingsford-Smith Cup in 2019 (blue and white stars)

Pike has enjoyed considerable success in the Brisbane winter in recent years, not only with Sacred Elixir, but also with multiple Group 1-winning sprinter The Bostonian (NZ) (Jimmy Choux {NZ}) as well as G1 Queensland Oaks winner Provocative (NZ) (Zabeel {NZ}).

Travel complications have made it hard for him to campaign the numbers he would normally like to in the Sunshine State this year, but he has promised to be back with a stronger presence in 2022.

"We were pretty quiet. There are no direct flights and it was a bit messy, so it was only a small team of three or four, this year. We have a pretty nice, young team and I'm sure we will be back there with a vengeance next year," he said.

Tony Pike
Melody Belle
Victoria Derby