Another Cambridge Group One double

The Group One celebrations just keep continuing in Cambridge.

Fresh from an Auckland Cup win by the Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young-trained Sangster and the Haunui Farm Diamond Stakes victory of Stephen Marsh’s freak two-year-old filly Ruud Awakening, Cambridge stables nailed a Group One trans-Tasman double today.

Down at Trentham the Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue-trained More Than Sacred raced away with the Group I $300,000 Wellfield NZ Oaks, while just over an hour later Murray Baker saddled up (It’s A) Dundeel to land the Group I A500,000 Hyland Colours Randwick Guineas at Warwick Farm in Sydney.

More The Sacred, a late entry for the Oaks, became the second Group One winner for Pike and Donoghue and the first one, Sacred Falls (NZ 2000 Guineas at Riccarton last November), was unlucky when finishing a few placings behind Dundeel today.

More Than Sacred is raced in the same colours as Sacred Falls, those of Raffles Farm, and on hand for the Trentham success was part-owner Bruce Sherwin, who also won the NZ Oaks back in 2002 with the Donna and Dean Logan-trained Vapour Trail.

Whereas Vapour Trail had been a prominent Filly Of The Year contender leading up to the NZ Oaks, More Than Sacred has been a latecomer on the scene.

“She was an immature filly and doing a lot wrong in her first preparation,” said Pike. “But since coming back for this campaign she has put it all together and has improved every run. She’s a real staying filly and has always been strong at the line. We were pretty confident she would be hard to beat today.”

More Than Sacred was the second Group One winner in eight days for rider Leith Innes, who had been aboard Ocean Park in his Lindauer NZ Stakes victory. Innes was also the regular rider of Sacred Falls and could have headed to Sydney to ride the colt today rather than stay back to ride More Than Sacred at Trentham.

“It was too hard of a decision to make so I left it to Bruce (Sherwin) to decide,” said Innes. “It’s worked out well.”

Innes gave More Than Sacred every chance and when he had the filly clear with 300 metres to run it was obvious victory was in sight. At the line she was comfortably clear, scoring by two lengths.

“The game plan was to make it a pretty strong staying test and she’s just been too good for them,” said Innes.

Blanket Bay and Aurora Lights, both owned and bred by The Oaks Stud, filled the second and third placings behind More Than Sacred and the latter pleased trainer Stephen Marsh with her performance. She was held up a shade in the home straight, but when rider Noel Harris got her into the clear she finished strongly, confirming the promise she has shown.

While Baker and his training partner, Andrew Forsman, had no luck in the Oaks with Decorah, who finished among the tailenders, there was cheering galore from the group when Dundeel once again downed his arch rival Proisir in convincing fashion. He had also beaten the Gai Waterhouse-trained star in the Gr.1 Spring Champion Stakes in Sydney last spring.

Dundeel was ridden by James McDonald and with the blinkers on for the first time he settled handier than usual in the 1600-metre event. That proved an advantage around the turning Warwick Farm track and when McDonald got to work on him nearing the turn it was soon evident he would be a big chance.

Dundeel soon collared Proisir and kicked to the line strongly with bookies racing to lower his odds for the Group I $A1.5 million ATC Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on April 13.

McDonald was obviously thrilled with Dundeel’s performance today and is looking forward to his next mission, the Rosehill Guineas.

“The blinkers worked a treat and he coasted to the line,” said McDonald. “He had plenty up his sleeve. He’s come back stronger than he was in the spring.”

Baker was also taken by Dundeel’s appearance before the race.

“I hadn’t seen him for a month and when I got over here on Thursday he looked terrific,” said Baker, who had the horse based with his son, Bjorn, at Warwick Farm.

Baker says he knew when McDonald set Dundeel alight there was no beating the exciting three-year-old.

“He’s got a long sustained run and I knew they wouldn’t pull him back,” said Baker.

Baker has won the Derby in Sydney with Nom du Jeu and it would be hard to find someone who doesn’t believe he can lift it with Dundeel.