Cambridge-based horseman Tony Pike has taken the blinkers off his Kiwi raider Sacred Elixir stating he “doesn’t need them” when stepping up in distance on Saturday for a shot at the 2016 Moonee Valley Vase.
The last on a bumper 10-race Cox Plate Day card in Melbourne, this year’s $200,000 Group 2 Moonee Valley Vase (2040m) features a talented field of 11 three-year-old staying types.
Many are heading towards a seven day back-up in the $1.5 million Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) including Pike’s Group 1 winning Pour Moi gelding Sacred Elixir.
The galloper took out the Group 1 J.J. Atkins (1600m) as a two-year-old over the mile in Brisbane and won first-up in Melbourne this campaign in the Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m).
He raced too keenly with the blinkers on last start on October 8 in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) however and finished two and three-quarter lengths away eighth to the winner Divine Prophet.
“He was caught wide after a bumping duel at the start, over-raced and then took off before the corner and got lost around the bend,” Pike told the NZ Racing Desk talking about Sacred Elixir in the Guineas.
“He doesn’t need blinkers.
“He has only worn them to make him a bit sharper when he was racing over shorter distances. They first went on for the Karaka Million [at Elllerslie on January 24].”
The blinkers are off on Saturday for the Vase and Pike is confident the galloper will appreciate the extra meters after he worked well at the Moonee Valley course on Tuesday as part of the Breakfast With the Best.
“He worked over a mile on his own and was really relaxed,” Pike said.
“It gave him a good look around the track and in front of a mini race day crowd. There would have been between three to four thousand people there.
“He got a bit lost around the top bend, but he was better on the final turn.”
Damian Lane continues his association with Sacred Elixir on Saturday, the duo drawn nicely mid-field in gate six.
“He’s probably good enough to win the race if he can get around the Valley,” Pike added.
“But it won’t be easy for him and we will be happy as long as he relaxes in the run and hits the line strongly.
“His best runs have been on big tracks and I’m really looking forward to getting him to Flemington.
“We have always thought he was a stayer.”
In the current Moonee Valley Vase odds the Kiwi is at $5.50 for the win trailing only the James Cummings-trained market mover Prized Icon ($5.50 into $4.60) who comes off a third to Yankee Rose in Sydney’s Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m).
The latest Victoria Derby winners to back-up off a run in the Vase were Lion Tamer (2nd in 2010) and Tarzino (3rd in 2015) last spring.
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