Pike out in force on Karaka Millions night

Tony Pike, who has a strong hand on Karaka Millions night with Sacred Elixir and Felton Road leading the charge.

Tony Pike, who has a strong hand on Karaka Millions night with Sacred Elixir and Felton Road leading the charge.

Tony Pike will have numbers on his side at Sunday’s high-profile meeting at Ellerslie.

Among the Cambridge trainer’s representatives will be the glamour three-year-old Sacred Elixir in the NZB Insurance Karaka Mile, his unbeaten stablemate Felton Road in the Karaka Million and Chenille and Sacred Shot who will be rivals in the Windsor Park Karaka Stayers Cup.

Sacred Elixir’s return might rival the Karaka Million as the high point of the evening.

He was a youngster of high promise when he left for richer opportunities in Australia and returns to action as a million-dollar earner and a $5 favourite for the $1 million Gr.1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie on March 4.

Sacred Elixir has not raced since finishing second in the Gr.1 Victoria Derby at Flemington on October 29.

“We are really happy with him, but he will be vulnerable first-up,” said Pike. “He’s forward enough and looks fantastic, but is not going to be fully wound up by any means.

“He’s a naturally clean-winded horse and has got plenty of residual fitness from his Melbourne campaign.

“His form looks as strong as that for any three-year-old we have had (in New Zealand) for a while.”

Leith Innes rode Sacred Elixir in his three New Zealand starts last term and he will retain the mount for at least the horse’s next three starts.

“Ellerslie is a unique course and Leith is one of the best jockeys around Ellerslie,” said Pike.

The Karaka Mile will be the first of two lead-up races to the Derby for Sacred Elixir with his second assignment being either the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes at Te Rapa on February 11 or the Gr.2 Avondale Guineas at Ellerslie a week later.

Barrier luck has finally gone Felton Road’s way with him drawing the inside in the Karaka Million.

The Pins colt has overcome wide draws to win both of his starts at Ellerslie and he will again be ridden by Innes.

“He’s a smart horse with a great attitude and has been very strong at the finish in both of his races,” said Pike. “He probably shouldn’t have won his first start with the run he got.”

– NZ Racing Desk.