Exciting previews for Riccarton

The Cambridge duo of Sacred Falls and Rollout The Carpet gathered support for two of the country’s major three-year-old races when provided the quinella in the Group III James and Annie Sarten Memorial at Te Rapa today.

Sacred Falls extended his unbeaten winning sequence to five when he overhauled Rollout The Carpet in the final stages of the 1400-metre event and in doing so he seems the only horse punters want to back on the TAB’s Fixed Odds betting in the Group I Sothy’s NZ 2000 Guineas at Riccarton next month.

Sacred Falls was at cramped odds of $1.70 when winning the Sarten Memorial and the TAB is offering the same Fixed Odds for the 1600-metre three-year-old feature. In fact only one other 2000 Guineas entry, Warhorse, is being offered at single figures ($8). He finished fifth today.

Despite striking a rain-affected track today, class came through with Sacred Falls scoring by a long neck from Rollout The Carpet.

Regular rider Leith Innes settled him sixth on the outer, tracking Pure Elegance, while Magic Shaft made the pace from Rollout The Carpet. The latter’s rider, Mark Du Plessis, took his mount to the front 300 metres out and Rollout The Carpet kicked back strongly when challenged by Sacred Falls.

“I was worried about the speed in the race. They didn’t go overly hard and I was a bit concerned about he was going to sprint in the soft ground,” said Sacred Falls’ co-trainer Tony Pike. “He’s better on a good track like it was at Hawke’s Bay. He’s got an explosive turn of foot.”

Innes said Sacred Falls handled the track well enough and he wasn’t worried about him picking up Rollout The Carpet. “But he’s looking for a mile (1600m) now,” said Innes.

Pike know wants to see a firm surface at Riccarton for the 2000 Guineas. “If the track is good we could see something special down there,” he warned.

Meanwhile Rollout The Carpet produced a good dress rehearsal for Riccarton. She is nominated for both the 2000 Guineas and the Group I NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas and is better-fancied in the latter. She is at $31 for the 2000 Guineas and $12 for the 1000 Guineas.

There was plenty of merit in the way she fought back when headed by Sacred Falls and she will be happier on better ground.

Earlier in the day Rollout The Carpet’s stablemate Tilda was successful for Du Plessis. Tilda is raced by co-trainer Emma-Lee Browne and her husband, David.

Fix rushed home late for third and has moved into equal $5 favouritism for the 1000 Guineas, sharing that line of betting with Pure Elegance, who fought on for fourth today. Pure Elegance is another who would appreciate a good track, as she showed when winning fresh-up in the Group III Gold Trail Stakes at Hastings.

Waterford, a stablemate of Sacred Falls, found the line nicely, four lengths behind the winner, today and will appreciate the step up to 1600 metres in the 1000 Guineas.