Racing: Relief greets Guineas win

By James Graham

Sacred Falls (centre) held off Oasis Rose (outer) and Warhorse (rails) to win the 2000 Guineas. Picture / SNPA
Sacred Falls (centre) held off Oasis Rose (outer) and Warhorse (rails) to win the 2000 Guineas. Picture / SNPA

Relief was the overriding feeling in the Sacred Falls camp yesterday.

The unbeaten colt had bounced through his sixth successive win - and easily the most valuable - in the $400,000 Sothy's New Zealand 2000 Guineas on Saturday without leaving an oat.

On a personal level, the horse's senior Cambridge trainer Tony Pike was finally shedding the anxiety that had built up to fever-pitch all week.

Still chasing his first group one success, Pike had the weight of the racing world on his 37-year-old shoulders before the weekend.

No matter how much TAB bookies kept trimming the odds on Sacred Falls, punters kept coming - one plunged $10,000 at $1.65, followed by another assault soon after of $20,000 at $1.60.

As if that wasn't enough for the blood pressure, Pike also had Malaysian construction millionaire owner Dato Yap Kim San on course beside him watching his $160,000 yearling perform on raceday for the first time.

Dato Yap wasted little time in letting Christchurch know how thrilled he was with the result from Pike, training partner Mark Donoghue and the horse's rider, Leith Innes.

In a surprise gesture, even to the trainers, Dato Yap announced at the Guineas presentation that he was donating $50,000 to the Riccarton club's members' stand rebuilding fund and another $50,000 to earthquake recovery.

Not surprisingly, Pike said yesterday that he had pulled up a lot "dustier" than his boom O'Reilly colt as a result of the celebrations. "You definitely enjoy the moment when it happens but obviously there's been a little bit of pressure on.

"It's good to keep that unbeaten record and a real relief when it's over and he's won again."

Pike was also enjoying the luxury yesterday of dissecting the colt's heart-stopping head win on replay and was thrilled all over again by what he saw.

After the tearaway leaders stopped quickly in the straight, Innes was forced to ignite Sacred Falls much sooner than he'd hoped.

"It was probably a lot better win than the margin suggested," reasoned Pike. "We didn't expect them to go quite that hard in the race and he obviously got a long way back.

"Mark Du Plessis has ridden a fantastic race on Oasis Rose. She's just basically tracked him into the race the whole way.

"She's come off his back to beat him but they had their chance to get past him and they couldn't. All-in-all it was a pretty good performance. It was the first time he's really had to get into a dogfight so it was great to see him pull out and still get the win."

Provided stud offers don't derail future racing plans, Pike said the Bruce Sherwin-managed Sacred Falls would be heading straight to a grass paddock for the next four to six weeks with the view to a Sydney autumn campaign.

Pike saddled Historian to run second in the 2011 New Zealand Derby and followed up with Carrick, who ran third earlier this year.

But he said yesterday he'd be quite happy to sidestep the March feature at Ellerslie with the O'Reilly colt in preference for enhancing the colt's future stud value across the Tasman.

"He's probably not bred to go the Derby trip, but he relaxes so well he'll probably get it," said Pike.

"He's still nominated for the race but races like the Rosehill Guineas are probably going to be more suitable and if he can win one of those, probably more value to him."

Pike said Innes had the colt pegged as a future top-liner after his first trial win at Cambridge last February, but the trainer is adamant we're yet to see the best of him. "Mentally he's such a lovely colt to do anything with but physically he's still got a lot of developing to do as well.

"I think in the autumn he's going to be a better horse again; he's done a great job to hold together for four starts in this campaign."

- NZ Herald

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