The forgotten group one star of New Zealand racing returns to Ellerslie tomorrow but it will look vastly different from the last time he was there.

Sacred Elixir will be the star of the show in the 30 heats of trials on the inside Ellerslie track ,over three years since the last time he hit anything like top speed around our premier track.

That was March 2017 when Sacred Elixir finished fifth in the the Vodafone Derby won by Gingernuts, his last start in New Zealand.

Sacred Elixir almost started favourite in that Derby and rightly so after becoming a rare New Zealand-trained winner of a group one juvenile race in Australia the previous season.

Advertisement

He smashed the Aussies in the J J Atkins in Brisbane before returning to Australia in the spring to post another rarity, a Kiwi winning a Caulfield Guineas Prelude but finishing a luckless eighth in the Guineas itself.

The long-striding son of Pour Moi won the Vase at The Valley the next start before finishing second to Prized Icon in the Victoria Derby.

"He is a good horse, a really good group one horse," says trainer Tony Pike.

But Sacred Elixir was owned in Hong Kong and always destined to end up there and placed in the second of his two starts at Sha Tin before being struck down by suspensory trouble.

When that wouldn't come right Sacred Elixir was retired and came home.

His public story could have ended there but after a long spell his legs checked out all right and three months on the water walker had him looking like a racehorse again.

Back with Pike he is ready enough to see if his suspensory can handle the business end of a preparation so today he makes his Ellerslie return.

He won't be asked for much in his 900m open catch weight but Pike is already convinced the now six-year-old still has the motor of a group one horse. The question is whether he has the legs of one.

Advertisement

"We will give him a couple of trials and then see how he holds together," says Pike, who has been on fire training winners since racing resumed.

"If all is going well then we might look at the last two legs of the Triple Crown at Hastings." Sacred Elixir won't be the only top horses Pike takes to Ellerslie today as flying filly Kali will trial in the 11.06am heat.

She hasn't raced since taking on the older sprinters in the Sistema Railway on New Years Day but has come up well and is another who could head to Hawkes Bay.

"That is the likely target but if she comes out and goes a boomer in one of her trials she could head to Australia instead," says Pike.

Tomorrow's trials not only see plenty of established talent in the four open catch weights to start the card (first at 10.30am) but a remarkable 16 juvenile heats as trainers try and sort out which babies to press on with into the new season and which ones are going to require more time or drier tracks.

With Ellerslie having raced just three days ago, Pukekohe on Wednesday and Te Rapa this Saturday it almost feels like a normal winter week of racing.

Advertisement

Except there are just a lot more horses around and group one winners lining up at the trials.