From his vantage point trainer Tony Pike thought Sacred Elixir had been just beaten in Saturday's $20,000 Countdown to Karaka Million at Ellerslie.

He was wrong and it's not the first time the Cambridge horseman has been slightly fooled by the son of Pour Moi. Originally, Pike felt Sacred Elixir would not make a winning 2-year-old.

"He's such a big bloke and we always thought he'd be a 3-year-old," said a surprised and delighted Pike when the result was posted.

"He's doing such a great job for us so we'll roll the dice one more time." Pike was referring to Sacred Elixir having, in the space of less than two minutes, gone from maiden status to a well-fancied runner in New Zealand's richest race, the $1 million Karaka Million.


Off the back of this victory the TAB has promoted Sacred Elixir to the $7 third favourite for the January 24 feature.

On debut, Sacred Elixir was outbobbed in a close finish by O'Rachael and this time he managed to just scrape past the favourite The Soultaker in the final stride.

Although beaten, rider Sam Spratt and co-trainer Donna Logan were not disappointed.

Spratt felt the start of the race made the difference between victory and being just beaten.

"He was a bit fresh and he became unsettled in the barriers. He had an attendant either side screwing his head down when they made the start and it slightly slowed down his momentum."

The Soultaker raced greenly in the home straight and Spratt described the colt as "a bit dumb, but learning". Donna Logan was very pleased. "We missed a bit of work with him, so he needed that today. We can live with that, I'm not disappointed."

The Soultaker is the $6 second favourite for the Karaka Million behind the $2.80 favourite Manolo Blahniq.

Impressive was South Island filly What Choux Want, who was essentially in the race to see if she would successfully manage her first attempt at right-handed racing. She managed it brilliantly, finished third and should have won.

What Choux Want trailed the small field from the outside gate, railed around the home turn beautifully, but ran out of room. Sam Collett attempted a narrow gap inside the leader, The Soultaker, but the latter rolled in and What Choux Want had to switch ground.

"She's such a professional," said delighted Riccarton trainer Andrew Carston. "That was only an experiment because she was already safely in the Million and she handled the right-handed track really well."


Tarissa Mitchell took her entire team - two horses - to Ellerslie on Saturday and headed home with two of the most impressive victories on the card safely in hand. That is some sort of accomplishment on a Saturday meeting at Ellerslie.

Early in the day Irish Call led throughout for a courageous maiden win and at the end of the day Call Me Royal did it the other way, carrying 60kg and coming from an outside barrier at the 2100m start to swamp the leaders on the home bend. Both horses were well ridden by Matt Cameron.

Call Me Royal could not have been more impressive. He carried his 60kg topweight as if it were 49kg and scored perhaps the easiest win of the day.

The former wife of the harness code's Todd Mitchell, Tarissa Mitchell has experience in the raceday saddle behind her and her father, the late Bruce Macdonald, was a highly regarded horseman who passed away a decade back.

"Every time I get into a bind I always say 'I wish dad was here, he'd know what to do'. He was a wise old head."

It won't be the last we hear from Call Me Royal and Irish Call, although Call Me Royal may go for an immediate spell.