Cambridge galloper Sacred Elixir had his first look around Moonee Valley yesterday morning.
Sacred Elixir was among the 60 horses to gallop at the "Breakfast with the Best" session, five days out from the Cox Plate meeting.
Sacred Elixir will complete his Victoria Derby preparation with a run in the A$200,000 group two Moonee Valley Vase (2040m) on Saturday.
"He worked over a mile on his own and was really relaxed," trainer Tony Pike said. "It gave him a good look around the track and in front of a mini raceday crowd. There would have been between three to four thousand people there. He [Sacred Elixir] got a bit lost around the top bend but was better on the final turn."
Sacred Elixir will be stepping up to a middle distance for the first time on Saturday and will race without blinkers, after travelling keenly when unplaced in the Caulfield Guineas (1600m) at his last start.
"He doesn't need blinkers," Pike said. ""He has only worn them to make him a bit sharper when he was racing over shorter distances. They first went on for the Karaka Million."
Melbourne jockey Damian Lane retains the ride on Saturday but will be under notice, with Zac Purton, who partnered Sacred Elixir at the Brisbane winter carnival, still in contention for the Derby mount.
Purton is based in Hong Kong and has not been available for Sacred Elixir's leadup races.
Lane gave Sacred Elixir a lovely run when winning the Guineas Prelude but could have shown more patience in the Guineas.
Sacred Elixir was second favourite for the A$1 million Caulfield Guineas but little went right for him. "He was caught wide after a bumping duel at the start, over-raced and then took off before the corner and got lost around the bend," Pike said. "It was completely opposite to the run he got first-up."
Pike believes the barrier draw will be the key to Sacred Elixir's prospects on Saturday. "The main aim will be to get him to relax. If he draws well he could end up three back on the fence but if he draws out, he will probably have to go back to get cover and allow him to switch off. He's probably good enough to win the race [on Saturday] if he can get around the Valley. But it won't be easy for him and we will be happy as long as he relaxes in the run and hits the line strongly.
"His best runs have been on big tracks and I'm really looking forward to getting him to Flemington [for the Derby]. We have always thought he was a stayer."
Pike also has NZ Derby winner Rangipo in Melbourne but there is a chance the four-year-old will return home without another run. Rangipo is at a tough place in the weights and wide barriers and firm tracks have also been against him in his two starts in Melbourne.
- NZ Racing Desk