Waikato Times Gold Cup goal

More Than Sacred, winner of the Gr. 1 Wellfield NZ Oaks last March, began her build-up to the Gr. 2 Waikato Times Gold Cup at Te Rapa in December with a pleasing trial at Cambridge yesterday.

Trainers Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue have been biding their time with More Than Sacred since she came back into work, waiting for the wet tracks to pass before returning her to the races. They took the opportunity to give her the home-track trial over 1200 metres and, though the track was a slow9, she proved she is on the right track.

“She went enormous,” said Pike. “She jumped out well and was one out and one back and travelling beautifully on the bridle. Leith (Innes) had a big hold of her and she was doing her best work past the post. She was the last to pull up.”

More Than Sacred finished second, two and three-quarter lengths behind Happyto Keepa, a sprint winner of five races who had the lighter-weighted Kevin Leung aboard.

More Than Sacred didn’t strike top form last season until stepping up to 1600 metres then in four starts she recorded three wins and a third behind Fix in the Gr. 2 Sir Tristram Fillies Classic (2000m) at Te Rapa. Her second win was in the Gr. 3 McKee Family Sunline Vase (2100m) at Ellerslie and she won the Wellfield NZ Oaks (2400m) decisively by two lengths.

Her connections decided to have a crack at the Gr. 1 ATC Oaks in Sydney after the Trentham win, but she struck a heavy track and finished a distant ninth of the 10 runners as Royal Descent ploughed through the ground to win by 10 lengths.

“She doesn’t like wet tracks and that’s why we have been marking time with her now,” said Pike. “We plan to give her a reasonably soft spring and concentrate more on later in the season.

“She will probably kick off at Ellerslie on the 28th of this month or a week later at Hawke’s Bay,” said Pike. “The Waikato Gold Cup is her goal. It’s an ideal race for her.”

The Pike – Donoghue stable was to the fore at the trials with Allez Eagle, who was ridden to a four and a half-length win in a maiden 3YO 950-metre heat by Innes. A son of Guillotine, he had also won a similar trial at Te Teko a fortnight ago.

“He improved with the Te Teko trial and couldn’t have won any easier,” said Pike. “He’s a pretty smart horse. He’ll either start in a maiden three-year-old 1200 metres at Te Aroha (September 27) or an open three-year-old at Te Rapa (October 4).”