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 New Zealand Gallops News 
Monday, February 20 2017

The $1 million Vodafone New Zealand Derby remains firmly on the agenda of Sacred Elixir despite his lack-lustre performance in Saturday’s Avondale Guineas.

Sacred Elixir lost his long-held position at the top of the Derby market after finishing seventh in his final lead-up. He is now the $5 second favourite behind Savile Row at $4.50, with surprise Avondale Guineas winner Gingernuts and Camino Rocoso – eighth in the same race – on the third line at $8.

Trainer Tony Pike reports that Sacred Elixir was “bouncing at the track this morning” and a start in the Derby on March 4 is definitely on.

“Looking at the way he was bouncing around this morning there’s nothing wrong with him, but to be sure we’ll take some bloods to get a clear picture,” Pike said. “I’m not sure what to make of the Avondale Guineas, it was a funny old race, but he probably should still have won it.

“He was travelling on the turn and went up to them as if he was going to win, but he didn’t. He’s got to find two or three lengths, so I’ll see what I can pull out of my bag of tricks – maybe put the blinkers back on to sharpen him.”

Chenille was also on trial on Saturday for her major target, the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup, and even though she too finished seventh, Pike was satisfied with the performance.

“We knew she wouldn’t like that ground but she had to run, so we were happy with how she went,” he said.

In a loose market, the Pentire mare is the $7 favourite for the March 11 two-miler ahead of the only other two at single figures ($9), Mister Impatience and Pentathlon, who fought out last year’s 3200-metre Wellington Cup. Pentathlon finished ninth of 11 at New Plymouth on the weekend in his first start since the Melbourne Cup, while Mister Impatience was an encouraging third in the Avondale Cup.

Pike had a mixed day on Saturday but got a decent consolation when his final runner, Sacred Rhythm, won the Listed Bob Sharrock Oaks Prelude at New Plymouth. In just her third start, the Pentire filly was very strong over the closing stages of the 1800-metre race and is now the $12 fourth favourite for the Wellfield New Zealand Oaks.

Pike’s weekend defector Aim Smart, who stayed at home due to the slow track at New Plymouth, will now run in the Listed Reid & Harrison Slipper at Matamata on Saturday. His clash with highly rated local colt Summer Passage will be keenly anticipated after the pair finished first and second on debut at Pukekohe last month.

Ujjayyi, the Pike-trained filly who won impressively on debut at Te Aroha earlier this month, is scheduled to run in Saturday’s Gr. 2 J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes.

“She’s got a lot of natural ability, with the only query that her trial and race were both right-handed, but she deserves to be there,” Pike said.

Posted by: AT 02:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email