Kiwi raider Sacred Elixir has his first taste of Group 1 racing down under in Saturday’s JJ Atkins but already trainer Tony Pike is looking further ahead to Melbourne’s Victoria Derby 2016 during the spring.
The promising Pour Moi gelding from Cambridge in New Zealand has had five starts to date for two wins and a third.
He enjoyed success at the Sunshine Coast over 1400m on May 11 in his first Australian start before a close sixth defeated just one and a quarter lengths by Attention at Doomben a fortnight later in the Group 2 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1350m).
The BRC Sires’ has produced six of the past 10 JJ Atkins winners including Sizzling (2012) and Pressday (2010) who completed the double.
Between those two Benfica ran sixth in the Group 2 before a win in the Group 1, the same form Sacred Elixir brings into Saturday’s $600,000 BMW J.J. Atkins (1600m).
The bookies are taking no chances with the New Zealand youngster who sits top of the pre-field JJ Atkins odds at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $4 for the win.
He is followed in the all-in JJ Atkins betting markets by the John O’Shea-trained Lonhro colt Souchez ($5) and Peter & Paul Snowden’s son of Stratum Attention ($7) who ran fifth and first respectively in the BRC Sires’ on May 28.
Saturday will be Sacred Elixir’s first look at the 1600m and Pike is confident he will handle the extra metres and more without a worry, naming Flemington’s Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) during the Melbourne Cup Carnival as a long term aim.
“That’s part of the reason Sacred Elixir came here – to have a couple of runs in Brisbane [before Melbourne in the spring],” Pike told Racing Ahead on RSN.
“We’ll give him a short break up in Brisbane; keep him out of the cold weather.
“We’ll do some work with him here, before going back down to Melbourne with possibly something like the VRC Derby in mind.”
The last New Zealand-trained Victoria Derby winner was Trent Busuttin’s Sangster (2011).
Pike is keen to get Sacred Elixir over the roomer Eagle Farm course and is confident he’ll be one of the best in show on Saturday.
“He’s going to like the big, roomy track at a mile,” he said.
“We’ve tried to leave him reasonably fresh, because he’s a horse bred to go 2000m and further.
“We’ve tried to keep him fresh with enough speed in his legs for the shorter trips.
“He’s going to run the mile out strongly, better than most two-year-olds, and happy to get him on a roomy track.”
Pike also has Sacred Star as a possible $1.5 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) or $175,000 Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m) runner and his classy Zabeel filly Provocative in the rescheduled $600,000 Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m).
He is also considering a run against the colts and geldings for Provocative in the $600,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) where she currently sits 22 on the ballot for the capacity 18-starter field.
“I’m sure if we decide the Derby option, she’ll come up with (barrier) 20, too,” Pike said.
“We’ve always had a very high opinion of her.
“She was one of the early favourites for the NZ Derby before having a slight injury in the Avondale Guineas that prevented us from running in the Derby.
“I think she’s a quality staying mare – I think the 2500m will really suit, she’ll stay the trip more than most.
“She’s definitely got a bit of class on her side as well.”
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