More Than Sacred boosts Oaks bid

The late entry of More Than Sacred has boosted the prospects of a further Cambridge win in the NZ Oaks at Trentham on Saturday.

Cambridge fillies have won the last four editions of the 2400-metre classic with Jungle Rocket, trained by Jeff McVean, starting the ball rolling in 2009. Shaune Ritchie chimed in the following year with Keep The Peace and provided the quinella last year with Artistic and Zurella, while Paul Duncan filled in the 2011 gap with Midnight Oil.

More Than Sacred earned her crack at the Group I Wellfield NZ Oaks through a hard-fought win in the Listed Sunline Vase at Ellerslie last Wednesday. The More Than Ready filly was on the pace and after hitting the front in the run home she was headed by Ray’s Hope before fighting back to score by a short neck.

More Than Sacred is trained by Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue and Pike described her as “an amazing filly with a big heart.”

The Sunline Vase was the second race More Than Sacred has won in six starts. Her previous success was two starts earlier at Te Rapa over 1600 metres. But it was the outing between times, when third to Fix and Soriano in the Group II Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic at Te Rapa, that really shaped her as an Oaks prospect.

Mark Du Plessis filled in for a suspended Leith Innes aboard More Than Sacred in the Sunline Vase and gave her the tick for the Oaks, claiming she would have no problem managing the 2400 metres.

Innes is back in the saddle this weekend and will be looking to add to his success rate for the Raffles Farm owners. Innes was the regular rider of Sacred Falls during his unbeaten New Zealand run from the Pike-Donoghue stable, culminating in his Group I Sothy’s NZ 2000 Guineas win.

But it’s not only More Than Sacred who has a chance to win the Oaks for Cambridge. Decorah, from Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman’s stable and Aurora Lights (trained by Stephen Marsh) are other strong chances from the centre and Siciliani and Grace O’Malley are lesser lights.