Racing: Pike pair brain 'em in Brisbane

By Mike Dillon

Sacred Elixir cruises away from the field in the A$600,000 JJ Atkins at Eagle Farm on Saturday. Photo / NZ Racing Desk
Sacred Elixir cruises away from the field in the A$600,000 JJ Atkins at Eagle Farm on Saturday. Photo / NZ Racing Desk

Sacred Elixir, the horse Tony Pike had no intention of racing as a 2-year-old, became the first New Zealand-trained group one Australian juvenile winner in more than a decade.

In bolting away with Saturday's A$600,000 JJ Atkins at Eagle Farm, the hugely talented youngster followed in the hoofprints of Darci Brahma who won the same race under Scott Seamer, when known as the TJ Smith, on June 13, 2005.

"It's difficult to win big 2-year-old races in Australia with our horses so it's an enormous thrill to be the first to do it in 11 years," said a delighted Tony Pike, who one hour and twenty minutes after the JJ Atkins produced Provocative to run away with the A$500,000 Queensland Oaks.

At no stage of his education did Sacred Elixir indicate he could be a 2-year-old winner. He is a very big horse and is the grandson of Japan Cup-winning Horlicks, who left Melbourne Cup winner Brew. His sire Pour Moi won the English Derby.

"We gave him an educational barrier trial and intended tipping him straight out, but he immediately showed natural ability so we kept going and his effort in the Karaka Million showed us this race in Brisbane was the obvious target.

"We knew the 1600m would suit while a number of others would struggle with the extended distance." Sacred Elixir was ridden by former Queenslander Zac Purton, regular rider of the horses in Hong Kong raced by the youngster's owners Raffles Thoroughbred Racing.

Purton, winning his first group one in his home state, said the race had been a breeze. "I had it won at the 700m. When we were coming into it beautifully, the others were crammed up.

"All we had to do was stay out of trouble. He's raw. There could be a lot of improvement left in him.

"He's a lovely big horse and he still has to fill his frame. Mentally he has to think about everything he's doing.

"When it comes together and he gets over a bit more ground he'll be a very exciting type." Apart from the emergencies Provocative went into the Oaks as having won significantly less stakemoney than the opposition and beat them as though she was in a different class.

"Both horses brained the opposition," said Tony Pike. "The wide barriers turned out being in our favour. The new Eagle Farm surface raced beautifully with them winning close to the rails for the first half of the programme, but with 10 races and 18-horse fields the inside was always going to cut out a little for the late races." Sacred Elixir and Provocative both improved wide around the leaders approaching the home bend and had their respective races won long before the finish. Both will now spell in Queensland with Melbourne campaigns in the spring in mind.

"It doesn't make sense to leave the warm weather here and take them back into the middle of a New Zealand winter. They can have a month's pre-training here at Eagle Farm before heading down to Melbourne."

Sacred Elixir's preparation will be aimed towards the Victoria Derby, the JJ Atkins-Derby double last being achieved by the superbly versatile Mahogany in 1993.

Pike said both horses have come through their victories in wonderful shape.

"The 2-year-old ate all his overnight feed and the filly left only a handful. They've pulled up sound and we couldn't be happier."

Pike was also delighted in Sacred Star's effort to finish fifth in the A$1.5 million Stradbroke Handicap.

"The old bloke was 100 to 1 in a very hot field. I am so proud of him."

Rosie Myers created her own slice of history when she won the group two Brisbane Cup aboard Kiwi stayer Benzini on Saturday.

Myers became the first woman to ride the winner of the Brisbane Cup when Benzini ($11) scored by a neck from Sir John Hawkwood ($5) with Junoob ($12) three lengths away third.

Myers declared Benzini her favourite horse.

Rider a bit lucky to win with youngster

If you backed Elusive State to make a winning debut at Te Rapa on Saturday, you've used up your week's supply of good luck.

Trainer Trevor and Martin Cruz expected the youngster to run a place, but thought the winter footing - although decent - would probably prevent a win.

What they hadn't expected - and how could they - that the bit would break in Elusive State's mouth halfway through the contest.

For a time rider Lynsey Satherley had trouble controlling the youngster, but she aided the situation somewhat by taking the horse forward to be outside the leader.

Fortunately Elusive State wore a crossover nose band, which almost certainly helped at least slightly keep the bit from getting into a more difficult position.

Satherley was able to ride the 2-year-old out strongly to hold out the solid-finishing favourite Poker Face.

The brothers, who train Elusive State for their mother, Angel, hope the horse will be a Guineas contender in the spring.

- Additional reporting AAP

- NZ Herald

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