Cambridge trainer Tony Pike has been keeping a weather watch on Hamilton as his top sprinter Sacred Star prepares for another tilt at Te Rapa’s major sprint.
Already this year wet weather has played havoc with Sacred Star, causing him to be a late withdrawal from the Group 1 Sistema Railway (1200m) on New Year’s Day, and Pike doesn’t want to see a repeat on Saturday.
Sacred Star will be lining up in the Group 1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) for the fourth time and only continuous heavy rain will prevent him from competing.
“The forecast is for some rain, but I’ll run him up to a dead five or six (track rating),” said Pike. “If it rains heavily and it’s a genuine slow he won’t run.
“It’s a bit different at Te Rapa than Ellerslie with the way it drains so hopefully it will be all right for him.”
Looking ahead, the Group 3 Darley Plate (1200m) on March 3 is again on the agenda for Sacred Star this campaign, provided he acquits himself well this weekend.
“He’ll probably run in the Darley Plate and that will be the end of the road for him this season,” Pike said. “He’s past his use by date for Australia, but if he’s racing well maybe he’ll be back racing here next season.”
Sacred Star is the winner of nine races and $783,564 in prizemoney, just on $80,000 more than stablemate Rangipo, who will contest Saturday’s other Group 1, the Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m).
“I was really pleased with his last two runs,” Pike said. “At Counties he was caught wide and Leith (Innes) went back. He’s a funny horse when you do that. He switches off. His last 100 metres was quite good.
“His run in the Rich Hill was good. He was about a long head from the winner and he fought to the line.
“The 2000 metres should be perfect for him on Saturday. He’ll be ridden positively in the first three or four and he’s not without a chance. He’s well.”
Pike is also expecting good runs from his other two Te Rapa acceptors, Blue Lagoon and Skyweka.
Blue Lagoon won well over 2100 metres at Te Teko last start and will be attempting to keep her Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) hopes alive in the Bupa New Zealand 2400.
“She took a couple of runs to come up and she’s flying now,” Pike said. “Te Teko fitted in well in her programme and she’s rock-hard fit and might sneak into the Auckland Cup. She’s a genuine stayer and will probably run again over 2200m at Ellerslie a week before the Cup.”
Meanwhile, Pike’s Group 3 Wellington Cup (3200m) winner, Magic Chai, is also on track for the Auckland Cup.
“He had a quiet fortnight after Trentham and his work has been outstanding,” Pike said.
“He’ll run in the 2400 metres (Westinghouse Nathan’s Memorial) at Ellerslie on Saturday week. It promises to be the strongest staying race and if he needs another run he can start again at Ellerslie a week before the Cup.”