Iain Hyndman's Ellerslie Tips
1: Tiger Silk, Autumn Wild, Wekaforce
2: Manaco, Breezon, The Fame Game
3: Raposa Rapida, Acutus, Ohthoserussians
4: Tighlign, Savapak, Gino Severeni
5: Spring Heat, Ever Loyal, The Justice League
6: Surely Sacred, Cutadeel, Vernanme
7: Mongolian Marshal, Five To Midnight, Glory Days
8: Lucetta, River Run, Nobu
Best Bet: Lucetta (R8)
Cambridge trainer Tony Pike will use the Gr.2 Schweppes Avondale Guineas (2100m) at Ellerslie on Saturday as a testing ground ahead of the Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby (2400m) next month.
He will line-up two runners in the race and is hoping Surely Sacred can add another Classic scalp to his record after taking out the Gr.2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) at Ellerslie on New Year's Day.
"Surely Sacred has been competitive in all the strong three-year-old races-to-date," Pike said.
"He was extremely unlucky in the Karaka Mile (to finish fifth), he just got shuffled back, in a slowly run race at the wrong time but finished off the race really well."
The three-year-old gelding will step up to 2100m for the first time on Saturday, but Pike doesn't believe that will pose any issues for the son of Rock 'n' Pop.
"I think the 2100m will suit him, being out of Provocative's family. He looks like a nice horse heading forward to the Derby," Pike said.
"He has shown us no reason why he couldn't stay the 2400m distance of the Derby," Pike said.
With the suspension of regular rider Leith Innes, Vinne Colgan will take the reins aboard Surely Sacred.
While Pike is bullish about the chances of Surely Scared leading into the Guineas, he is taking a wait and see approach with fellow Derby aspirant Rippa Eagle.
The son of Rip Van Winkle has won two of his six starts-to-date and Pike wants to find out if his gelding can step-up against his Classic rivals tomorrow before deciding on whether he will press on to the Derby.
"He wasn't paid up for the Karaka Millions, so he couldn't run in the mile," Pike said.
"He went down and took on the older horses mid-week at Hastings (over 2000m). It was a fair run, but first time over ground against older horses, we are happy enough to forgive that run.
"It was a solid run for third and it's really a roll of the dice on Saturday to see if he will stay the 2100m against the better three-year-olds. If he does, then he will press on towards the Derby." – NZ Racing Desk