Racing: Pike keeps weather eye on track

By Mike Dillon

Sacred Falls might miss clash with Pure Elegance if Te Rapa is too wet.

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Unless there are further heavy showers today, New Zealand's current glamour horse, Sacred Falls, will be at Te Rapa this afternoon.

But if rain or showers persist during today's programme, co-trainer Tony Pike will not hesitate to withdraw Sacred Falls from the $70,000 Sarten Memorial.

Sacred Falls is the $2.50 favourite for his major assignment, the 2000 Guineas at Riccarton, and Pike says it will not greatly concern him if the hugely talented colt has to go into the group one classic without a further race.

Heavy showers and rain mid-afternoon yesterday took some toll on the Te Rapa surface, but perhaps not quite as much as some imagined.

But similar conditions today once racing starts would make a massive difference.

"We will run him on a slow track, but if it rains early in the programme and the track gets wet and tricky then he'll probably come out," said Pike.

Yesterday's rain could not have come at a worse time for major racing - the clash of Sacred Falls, Pure Elegance, Warhorse and Rollout The Carpet on a fair-to-all surface was a not-to-be-missed moment and could still be.

One byproduct of the race will be that either Sacred Falls or Pure Elegance will - a dead-heat excepted - lose their unbeaten record.

"One thing about our horse is that he's won on a slow 8 surface at Te Rapa," said Pike.

Warhorse has shown no dislike for slow footing, but trainer Jason Bridgman feels that may just be because he was a natural as a 2-year-old.

"He's got a longer, flatter stride now so I suspect he's going to need top of the ground.

"Sometimes you get away with it at two because they naturally try hard.

"He's got enough wet track form to suggest he'll cope okay, even if he's not quite as comfortable as he would be on a firm surface."

Warhorse finished powerfully to win at Ellerslie last start after a resuming run in the Wanganui Guineas and should get the run of the race from his inside barrier.

The best passage may well decide this race despite the fact that Sacred Hills was totally dominating in winning the Hawkes Bay Guineas.

Bridgman says Warhorse has continued to improve physically.

Co-trainer Stephen Ramsay is certain Pure Elegance has improved since winning in stakes class at Hastings when resuming from her winter spell. "I am delighted with her and she will run a big race."

Pure Elegance has untapped potential and has the benefit of a crafty stakes rider in Jason Waddell.

Rollout The Carpet will guarantee a decent pace.

She had something of a moral victory over Warhorse and company when she won then "lost" the Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie in the autumn, so she is not far off the best.

- NZ Herald

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