Duncan’s Persuasive Powers Does The Trick For Pike

Oakland Park Stud’s head honcho Neville Duncan had to be at his persuasive best to keep the state’s best jockey interested in riding his staying talent, Ihts Closing Inn.

There was some early hesitancy from William Pike, but since he was legged aboard the filly for the first time at Geraldton in April, he’s never been beaten on her.

Making it four straight wins and five overall, Pike and Ihts Closing Inn kept their perfect record in tact in the Belmont Oaks (2000m) at Belmont on Saturday.

Pike did his job perfectly, giving Ihts Closing Inn a top run in fourth, and the Sessions filly did the rest, charging home from 200m and scoring by three-quarters-of-a-length.

The Belmont Oaks has been a kind race to Pike with multiple wins before, but for Ihts Closing Inn she claimed her first Listed success and best win in 14 career starts,.

Pike says his confidence and admiration for Ihts Closing Inn has risen significantly after she was beaten on debut in a 1300m Pinjarra maiden almost a year ago.

He’s enjoying her rise.

“She is doing a great job this horse,” Pike told Tabradio.

“I enjoy riding her and her story, going to Geraldton a few times and getting wins and also getting beat as well.

“Just the progression she has made all the way through, to capitalise so late and so deep into her preparation for a three-year-old filly defies all odds.

“I really enjoy her and the story that she is building.”

Ihts Closing Inn and Sesswa delivered Duncan and the Oakland Park team a one-two finish in the Belmont Oaks.

Sesswa, trained by Dan Morton and ridden by Brad Parnham, fought on strongly to finish second ahead of Secret Attraction.

Now a firm believer, Pike says strong endorsement from Duncan helped sway his early thoughts on Ihts Closing Inn.

“Neville Duncan had to ring me one day and convince me her wins were better than they were, or I thought they were,” Pike said.

“She’s so unassuming, but from my point of view because I get the options of so many rides I’m always looking for another ride that is bigger, faster and stronger.

“A lot of her wins I thought that was it with her, but here we are a lot further down the track and she has picket fences next to her name.

“She’s kept raising the bar and I think getting up over ground she’s enjoyed that a lot more than I thought she would.

“I didn’t think she would stay, but she’s proven me wrong there.

“Just about every step of the way she has proved us wrong.-in a good way.”

After a 13-start campaign that commenced in January, it’s not certain if Ihts Closing Inn will progress to the Belmont Classic (2200m) in a fortnight.

Julio Santarelli