Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
Joe Pride’s multiple Group 1 winner Sacred Choice is engaged in a Warwick Farm trial this Tuesday ahead of her autumn return, the smart Choisir mare preparing to defend her title in the Doncaster Mile 2012 later this season.
The $2.15 million earner was last seen running a brave second to Hurtle Myrtle in the Myer Classic (1600m) at Flemington on Derby Day, a race Sacred Choice won 12 months earlier, which was the culmination of a testing seven-start spring preparation.
Last campaign she was unable to recapture her stunning elite level form from the autumn where the now six-year-old raced away to her second Group 1 title in the Doncaster Mile Handicap on a Heavy (8) Randwick track before backing up with a gallant second to My Kingdom Of Fife in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at the same course a week later in similar conditions.
Pride remains confident, however, that Sacred Choice will be back to her best this Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival and is looking forward to her first-up run, which is likely to be in the $200,000 Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on February 11.
“Sacred Choice seems to have come back in really good order,” Pride said.
“She’ll be aimed specifically at the Doncaster and will have much the same preparation as previous campaigns.”
This autumn will be Sacred Choice’s swansong season as a racehorse, and Pride hopes she can go out on a high and become just the second multiple Doncaster Mile winning mare in history joining the mighty Sunline who won the 1999 and 2002 editions.
“We’ve been lucky that on the two biggest days of her career she has really got the conditions to suit and I just hope it can happen for a third time (for Doncaster Mile Day),” Pride said.
There are currently 201 horses nominated for the $2 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m), which runs at Randwick on April 21.
Atlantic Jewel is early $6 favourite in the ante-post Doncaster Mile odds at Luxbet, while Sacred Choice is only rated a $35 chance of successfully defending her title.
On Tuesday Sacred Choice will trial over 800 metres where she will come up against stablemate Neeson.
Winner of the Group 2 Premier Stakes (1200m) at Randwick last October, Mossman five-year-old Neeson is heading towards the $1 million Group 1 TJ Smith (1200m) at the same track on April 14.
Meanwhile, another boom runner from Pride’s stables Rain Affair is also engaged in a later Warwick Farm hitout on the same morning.
The four-year-old Commands gelding boasts a brilliant career record of eight wins from nine starts, the most recent of which was in the Listed Carrington Stakes (1100m) at Warwick Farm on January 2.
Rain Affair’s biggest success to date came in the Group 3 Missile Stakes (1200m) at Randwick last August, but Pride hopes that they will rise to the top this season and win their maiden Group 1 title.
Just exactly what that Group 1 autumn target will be, however, is still being decided with possible options including the $1 million Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 3, or the 2012 TJ Smith Stakes along with Neeson.
Rain Affair is also set to resume along with Sacred Choice in the Expressway Stakes, as are the likes of 2011 Queensland Horse of the Year Shoot Out and Chris Waller’s injury-plagued champ Rangirangdoo.
“He’s having a top-up trial on Tuesday before going to the Expressway Stakes,” Pride said.
“He’s doing really well.
“After the Carrington he went out to Limitless Lodge on the water walker for 10 days and then came back in.
“I don’t know where I’m going to go with him yet.
“He could go to the Newmarket, he could go to the TJ Smith.
“I’m just keeping it pretty open with him at the moment and I’ll just worry about the Expressway first.”
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