Sacred Elixir furthers Derby prep at Ellerslie

NZ Derby second favourite Sacred Elixir, pictured winning the Caulfield Guineas Prelude. (Photo: Darryl Sherer)

NZ Derby second favourite Sacred Elixir (closest camera), pictured winning the Caulfield Guineas Prelude. (Photo: Darryl Sherer)

Tony Pike left Ellerslie racecourse this morning satisfied but not confident in the chances of Sacred Elixir in Saturday’s Gr.1 Vodafone NZ Derby.

Sacred Elixir was one of 10 horses who competed in the pre-carnival session and, with Leith Innes in the saddle, he worked with stablemate Sheridan (Vinnie Colgan), a candidate for the rating 65 2100 metres at Ellerslie on Saturday.

“He gave Sheridan six to eight lengths start and cruised up to him” said Pike. “They built into it the last 400 metres wide out.

“He hit the line ok and dragged Leith (rider Leith Innes) up the hill. It was good to see him going on like that.

“To be honest it was not as well as he went in Melbourne, but he’s still going well to be a good chance in the Derby.

“It’s always hard to get a line on him. He’s pretty casual.

“We put the blinkers back on and he travelled well. He used to race in them until we took them off for the Vase (at Moonee Valley).”

Sacred Elixir won the Gr.2 Vase at Moonee Valley then finished second to Prized Icon in the Gr.1 Victoria Derby and in his two starts since being freshened he has finished fourth over 1600 at Ellerslie and seventh in the Gr.2 Avondale Guineas.

Sacred Elixir is the $5 second favourite on the Fixed Odds betting behind Savile Row, who also worked at Ellerslie this morning.

Pike was pleased with the hit-out of Sheridan, who will be chasing his second win this weekend after finishing fourth at Tauranga then second to Veearma at Ellerslie.

“He should have won his last start,” said Pike. “He should be a good chance on Saturday.”

Pike will be chasing back-to-back NZ Derby wins having picked up last year’s event with Rangipo, who was also at Ellerslie this morning competing in a jumpout with stablemates Snowdrop, Felton Road and Indecision.

“Rangipo had a few issues with his back and we treated it after he trialled at Cambridge and he was a lot better in the jumpout,” said Pike. “He’ll run at Ellerslie on Saturday.”

Snowdrop, a candidate for the Gr.3 Darley Plate on Saturday, has been off the scene since finishing ninth in the Sistema Railway on New Year’s Day.

“She needed that jumpout,” Pike said. “She missed a barrier trial at Cambridge because she had a temperature spike.”

Felton Road, who is being set for the Gr.1 Sistema Stakes on Saturday week, and Indecision, also an Ellerslie last-day candidate (for the Rating 65 1200) also pleased Pike.