Big day for locals at Waikato Times Gold Cup meeting

Cambridge stables had plenty to celebrate at yesterday’s Te Rapa meeting in which half the programme was won by horses from the centre.

Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue picked up two races with favourites More Than Sacred and Sacred Star, while Stephen Marsh started the ball rolling for the locals with another impressive win by Procurement.  Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman chimed in with a win by Diademe and John Bell rocked punters when Pizzazz scored at odds of better than 61/1.

Added to the winning haul, Cambridge provided the quinella in the Gr. 2 Cal Isuzu Stakes when the Shaune Ritchie-trained Zurella chased Diademe home, and Guns At Five, from Chris Wood’s stable, was a courageous third to More Than Sacred in the Gr. 3 Waikato Times Gold Cup while Harvest, prepared by Mark Fraser-Campin and Chris Campin was third to Pizzazz in the Listed Shaw’s Wire Rope Sprint and Diademe’s stablemate, Perkins, was second to Taranaki visitor Steel Rose in the first of the four black-type races on the card, the Listed Wentwood Grange Stakes.

More Than Sacred was backed as though unbeatable in the Waikato Times Gold Cup and she again showed the class which also won her the Gr.1 Wellfield NZ Oaks over the same 2400-metre trip last season.

Ridden by Leith Innes (who wasted to make the 53kg), More Than Sacred’s talent came through in the final stages when she collared the pacemaker Wisecrack and won by three-quarters of a length, while Guns At Five battled bravely to be a length and a quarter further afield after being trapped wide throughout.

Wisecrack was racing keenly for rider Mark Du Plessis and was allowed to stride to the front with 1200 metres to run and when getting off the fence he pushed More Than Sacred three wide, though Innes was able to soon get her back in one off the rails.

Wisecrack opened a big lead and looked to be holding his rivals at bay until the final stages at which point both More Than Sacred and Guns At Five were threatening.

“The race didn’t do as planned at all,” said Pike. “When they stacked up down the back she’s ended up further off them that we thought. It was a daring ride by Mark (on Wisecrack), he almost pulled it off.

“But all credit to Leith. He didn’t panic when Wisecrack got away on him. I think he was pretty confident up the straight that he would get there in time.”

Innes was full of praise for More Than Sacred after the event. “She’ll get two miles (3200m) on her ear, whether it be this year (season) or next,” he said.

More Than Sacred will now head to Ellerslie for the Gr. 2 City Of Auckland Cup then to Trentham for the Gr. 2 Wellington Cup.

Innes was able to employ different tactics on Diademe in the Gr. 2 Cal Isuzu Stakes, allowing the talented mare to make the pace. Diademe kept up a strong gallop to win by a length and a quarter from Zurella, who rushed home after being well back on the home turn.

“We couldn’t see a leader in the race and I left it up to Leith,” said Baker. “It was a good win.”

Innes, Pike and Donoghue, and the Raffles Farm group capped More Than Sacred’s win with a solid victory by Sacred Star in the final event. Sacred Star made it three wins in succession and five in total from 14 starts.

Pizzazz had a smile on Bell’s face after his upset win with the Cambridge trainer admitting to having a “bit of a bet” on the former Hong Kong galloper.

Pizzaz is raced by Bell and Hong Kong owner Benedict Sin and came with a big finish in the hands of Reese Jones. He displayed the same racing style with his wins in Hong Kong, where he set a track record at Happy Valley.”