Sacred Elixir bound for the Victoria Derby
Kiwi trainer Tony Pike is banking on the Caulfield Guineas form carrying Sacred Elixir to another New Zealand triumph in the Victoria Derby after he strengthened his grip on favouritism for the three-year-old classic.
Sacred Elixir, already a Group I winner during his two-year-old season, sailed to victory in The Vase, one of the traditional warmups on Cox Plate day at Moonee Valley.
Shunted back towards the inside as he tried to track Hugh Bowman on Veladero as they cornered for home, jockey Damian Lane spied an opening as Sacred Elixir burst to a halflength win from Morvada with So Si Bon one-and-a-quarter lengths back in third in the Group II race. But as with any Victoria Derby, how many of his rivals will run out the stamina-stretching 2500 metres?
‘‘It’s hard to tell and I really haven’t been through the form for the Derby and we just wanted to get through today first,’’ Pike said. ‘‘Obviously the Guineas form is standing up well with Good Standing winning last week and this bloke today.
‘‘Hopefully they’re just a little bit better than the rest.’’ And who is going to argue?
Given the Kiwis’ liking for plundering Australian three-yearold classics, Sacred Elixir’s price will likely shorten throughout the week as Raffles Racing seek another Australian Group I win.
A victim of his own wayward ways in the Caulfield Guineas last start, the blinkers-less Sacred Elixir settled a lot better in the run and forged clear when the gap presented in the tiny Moonee Valley straight.
‘‘Once he got clear he wobbled around the corner a little bit, but he was strong late which augurs well for next week,’’ Pike said. ‘‘I always thought he was a Derby horse and he’s got a real stayer’s pedigree. But he’s had that ability to win over shorter trips. He’s had the blinkers off today, switched off and was strong to the line.’’
The Vase was also used a platform for last year’s Victoria Derby winner Tarzino, who flew late to run into the placings at Moonee Valley before toying with his opposition seven days later at Flemington.
Saturday’s win for the Tony Pike-trained Sacred Elixir has moved him into favouritism for the VRC Derby.