Stable ready for strong Australian attack

Group I Wellfield NZ Oaks winner More Than Sacred is ready to spearhead an Australian attack by Cambridge trainers Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue.

The training partners are eyeing up stable members for both Sydney and Queensland with the bulk of the travellers being aimed at the latter winter carnival. But More Than Sacred’s mission is in Sydney for the Group I $A550,000 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick on April 20.

More Than Sacred has pleased her trainers with her progress since she landed the Oaks at Trentham and she proved she is heading in the right direction when doing an exhibition gallop between races at Te Aroha last Saturday.

With regular rider Leith Innes aboard, More Than Sacred worked nicely over a round, being timed for the last 1200 metres in 1:13 and the final 600 in 35.2.

“I was happy with her work,” said Pike. “She worked right to the line and kept going around the back until Leith could pull her up. She’s better on firmer ground than this (dead six). At Wellington she just pinged off the track.”

Innes shared Pike’s view over More Than Sacred’s liking for good footing. “She’s definitely happier on good ground, but she got away with it,” he said. “She was pretty casual in her work and felt good.”

After riding More Than Sacred in the exhibition gallop, Innes hopped aboard stablemate Kelly O’Reilly to record a solid win in the Cathay Pacific Waikato Breeders 1600.

It was Kelly O’Reilly’s fourth win from eight starts and her second on end, having scored at Tauranga on March 23. Owned by Pike’s parents, Wayne and Vicki, Kelly O’Reilly will be part of the Brisbane contingent.

“I’ve always like her and she is really starting to get it together now,” said Pike. “There are some nice races in Brisbane that could suit her.”

Waterford, the stable’s runner-up in the Group I NZ Bloodstock 1000 Guineas, is also destined for Queensland as is the top galloper Carrick. Both produced good efforts for placings last Saturday.

Waterford was having her first start since her Group One effort last November and it seemed only the wet track which prevented her returning on a winning note. She finished second to another Cambridge galloper, Neo, in the Te Aroha Plumbing and Drainage 1400.

“She’s coming up really well,” said Pike. “Hopefully we can get to the Queensland Oaks with her. We’ll just take it one race at a time.”

Carrick looked in top shape when resuming in the Team Wealleans 1400 and he fought on strongly for third behind Maximum Height. “He’s come back a bit stronger and should be a good one to take to Brisbane,” said Pike.

The Pike — Donoghue stable also have Absolutely Sacred pencilled-in as a possible member of the Brisbane squad. Racing in the same colours as More Than Sacred and Sacred Falls, Absolutely Sacred was one of two winners for the stable at Te Teko last Thursday.

“She’s go to Hastings for a Rating 65 1200 metres and if she won there she could go over to Brisbane, too,” said Pike. “She’s showing a lot of promise.”