Pike lands Group One double

Pike Tony TJH

Cambridge trainer Tony Pike stamped his mark on this year’s Queensland Winter Carnival with a Group One double at Eagle Farm yesterday.

Pike (pictured) struck with the exciting youngster Sacred Elixir in the Gr. 1 J.J. Atkins, the two-year-old 1600-metre feature, then added the Gr. 1 Queensland Oaks with Provocative. For good measure he also picked up some of the prize money between times from the Gr. 1 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap with Sacred Star finishing fifth.

“To win two Group Ones in Australia at the same meeting is a super day,” said Pike in a post-race interview.

“Two years ago we were here and it was a disappointing day for us and again last year was a disaster, but winning these races (yesterday) makes up for all the previous bad luck.”

Raced by Raffles Thoroughbred Racing, Sacred Elixir was most impressive, taking over halfway down the home straight in the A$600,000 J.J. Atkins 2YO and clearing out to beat Charnley River by three and a half lengths.

Ridden by Hong Kong-based Zac Purton, Sacred Elixir took his record to three wins and a second and more than $450,000 in prizemoney.

Purton was keen to ride Sacred Elixir in the JJ Atkins after finishing sixth on him in the BRC Sires Produce Stakes. “I knew the 1600 metres and Eagle Farm would be his go,” he said.

Sacred Elixir had begun his Queensland campaign on a high note when winning over 1400 metres at Caloundra when ridden by Damian Browne. His other win had come at Ellerslie last January before an unlucky run in the Karaka Million.

“The funny thing is that Sacred Elixir isn’t bred to be a two-year-old,” said Pike of the Pour Moi youngster whose third dam is New Zealand’s Japan Cup winner Horlicks.

“We knew we had a good horse and it is much easier to get them ready here in the winter than at home. His aim is the VRC Derby and I think there is improvement in him heading into the spring.”

Three races after Sacred Elixir’s Group One triumph, stablemate Provocative raced away with the A$500,000 Queensland Oaks in the hands of Leith Innes, scoring by three lengths from Ambience.

Provocative had scraped in off the ballot to record her fourth win from seven starts and she now looms as an exciting spring prospect.

Unbeaten in two Queensland starts, Provocative will now have a well-earned rest before being set for the Melbourne Spring Carnival with the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups the ultimate goals.

“She’ll be pre-trained in Brisbane after a month in the paddock then go down to Melbourne,” said Pike. “It’s never easy getting in the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, let alone winning, but we’ll roll the dice and give it a crack.

“Obviously there’s a huge amount of improvement in her.”

Back in 2001 another Cambridge filly, the Sheila Laxon-trained Ethereal, won the Queensland Oaks then went on to complete the Caulfield – Melbourne Cups double.

Pike was also thrilled with Sacred Star’s performance in the Stradbroke.

“I was really rapt in the old horse,” he said. “He always runs well over here (Queensland).

“I’m looking at the Glasshouse in three weeks for him then he’ll go back home and target the Railway and Telegraph again.”