Sacred Empire clicks at Matamata

Sacred Empire (Vinnie Colgan) finishing strongly to win at Matamata.

Sacred Empire (Vinnie Colgan) finishing strongly to win at Matamata.

The staying future of Sacred Empire looks promising after the penny finally dropped at Matamata yesterday.

The brother to NZ Oaks winner and Auckland Cup placegetter More Than Sacred broke through for his first win in his third start when pouncing on the leaders late to win the Matamata Hire Centre 2000 by a neck from Cardinal Sin.

“He’s been such a slow learner,” said trainer Tony Pike. “It was a nice run at Dargaville last time and he’ll stay all day. He’ll run four miles.”

Racing in the colours of Raffles Dancers NZ (Pty) Ltd, Sacred Empire had been unplaced in five trials before he finished second-last on debut at Te Rapa on March 3 over 1600 metres. He then stepped up to 2000 at Dargaville six weeks later and finished on late for fourth, albeit almost five and a half lengths from the winner.

He was ridden for the first time yesterday by Vinnie Colgan, who was impressed with the manner in which he completed his 2000-metre task.

More Than Sacred showed more talent a lot earlier than Sacred Empire, being one of the top three-year-olds with victory in the Gr. 3 McKee Family Sunline Vase and a third in the Gr. 2 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies Classic to go with her Oaks victory and third in Who Shot Thebarman’s 2014 Auckland Cup when trained by Pike.

The Pike stable was also to the fore later on yesterday’s programme with Sir Peter Vela’s filly Schiaparelli.

After three placings from as many starts, Schiaparelli broke through for her maiden win in the AA Auto Service & Repair Matamata 1200 and she did in convincingly, clearing out to win by two and a quarter lengths from the promising Scarlet’s Secret.

“She had blinkers on today and that helped,” said Pike’s father, Wayne, who was on hand to greet the Darci Brahma filly in the winner’s stall.