There was an element of gamble about Sacred Star being allowed to start in Saturday's $100,000 Darley Plate, and it paid off handsomely.

The topline sprinter had his main summer missions ruined by rain and overwatering and Tony Pike took a punt when Ellerslie looked like being borderline on Saturday morning.

But Ellerslie raced magnificently all day and although Sacred Star missed the big money on three occasions through moisture, this was a reasonably good consolation.

He mastered 3kg clear topweight of 59kg with class and beat a game Red Striker, who didn't help her chances with a slow start. Red Striker also had to switch around several pairs of heels in the home straight to find clear air ahead.


Pike said Sacred Star will be aimed at a further Queensland campaign. "There is nothing left for him in New Zealand this season and he's probably not quite good enough to tackle the sprinters in Sydney ..."

• Co-trainer Peter Williams has always believed Emily Monk will develop into a better than useful stayer. If the mare's three straight wins over 1400m are any indication she will be a headliner.

Emily Monk sat three wide in the opener at Ellerslie and powered gamely up the home straight to win.

She is almost certain to back up over 1600m on Cup day on Saturday.

• Retirement seems to suit Jim Cassidy.

Four months out of a raceday saddle has put a healthy glow on the 53-year-old who entertained Cuvee patrons at Ellerslie on Saturday.

"The Pumper", as he's known, never once took a backward step on the racetrack and that hasn't changed in his personality since retiring during the Melbourne Cup carnival.

"A lot of the pain I was carrying has gone now," he later said privately. "I feel great." It shows.