New Zealand horseman Tony Pike has enjoyed a stellar raid on the Queensland Winter Racing Carnival riches down under this season and is hopeful of more Black-Type success on Saturday with Sacred Star dropping in class for the 2016 Glasshouse Handicap.
One of three stakes races on the Caloundra Cup Day card at the Sunshine Coast on the weekend, Saturday’s $175,000 Listed Glasshouse Handicap (1400m) will be the final season run for Pike’s surprising six-year-old Sacred Star.
Earlier during the carnival at Brisbane Pike celebrated elite level wins on Stradbroke Handicap Day with Provocative in the Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) and Sacred Elixir in the Group 1 JJ Atkins (1600m).
Also impressive on the Eagle Farm card at that June 11 meet was Flying Spur gelding Sacred Star.
The older galloper finishing a credible fifth as a $61 hope behind Under The Louvre in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m), the same placing he finished behind River Lad back in 2014 and one better than his sixth to Srikandi when the Stradbroke ran at Doomben last season.
Pike admitted his expectations for Sacred Star, whose last turf triumph was at home at Ellerslie in the Group 3 Darley Plate (1200m) in early March, were only low for the Stradbroke.
Pleasantly pleased with the horse’s performance, Pike rates him a much stronger chance of a Queensland win in the Glasshouse on the weekend.
“I only realistically thought he was a very rough place chance in the Stradbroke, so he ran very well with all things considered,” Pike told The Daily Telegraph.
“I have kept him in Queensland because there is nothing in New Zealand for him at this time of year.
“The Glasshouse looks a good race for him, it is certainly a significant drop back in grade.”
Sacred Star is a dual Group 1 champion in New Zealand having completed the Telegraph Stakes – NRM Sprint double back in the summer of 2015.
This year he has had just the six starts and Pike is eager to see him post another stakes win before a possible trip south targeting Grafton’s $160,000 Listed Ramornie Handicap (1200m) on July 13.
“Depending on how he races on Saturday, I might also look at keeping him in Australia for the Ramornie,” Pike said.
Sacred Star is allocated 59kg in the Glasshouse Handicap, a notable rise from his 54.5kg in the Stradbroke.
Weights for the weekend’s feature led by the Darren Weir-trained Startum Star (61kg) who comes off a third in the Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m).
Other headline nominees include Eye Liner Stakes third placegetter at Ipswich last start Steel Zip, fourth in the same lead-up Pillar Of Creation and the Robert Heathcote-trained W.J. Healy runner-up last weekend Saluter.
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