The clash of New Zealand’s two best fillies, More Than Sacred and Habibi in the Group 1 $550,000 Patinack Farm Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick on Saturday will be one of the highlights on Doncaster Mile Day.
More Than Sacred hasn’t raced since winning the Group 1 NZ$300,000 Wellfield New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham on March 16 while New Zealand Derby winner Habibi has had the benefit of a recent start, running a solid third to Norzita in the Group 1 $400,000 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on April 6.
Cambridge trainer Tony Pike only confirmed an Oaks start for More Than Sacred after a pleasing gallop on Tuesday, booking herself a plane ticket to Sydney.
“She worked really well this morning and all going well over the next two days she will fly over on Thursday night,” Pike said after yesterday’s workout.
“She’s a lightly framed filly who doesn’t take a huge amount of work so the four weeks between runs isn’t a concern.”
More Than Sacred and Habibi haven’t crossed paths in the Autumn to date with Pike aiming his filly at the New Zealand Oaks while Habibi headed towards the Group 1 NZ$750,000 TV3 NZ Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on March 2.
“Our filly came through late in the season and while Habibi headed down the road to the Derby and we went to the Oaks,” Pike said.
While More Than Sacred’s three wins have been on a good track, Pike is not too concerned with the prospect of a wet Randwick track on Saturday.
“She galloped between races last Saturday at Te Aroha on a slow track and she got through it OK,” he said.
“But all of her best form has been on firm ground so (a wet track) is a relative unknown for her.
“If there is a plus side, a slow track is going to make it more of a staying test and that will help her.”
With Vinery Stud Stakes winner Norzita going to the Doncaster Mile, Habibi has been left as the favourite for the Australian Oaks at $3.50 ahead of Dear Demi at $5.50, Royal Descent at $7 with Longport at $9 while More Than Sacred is next in the betting at $11.
New Zealand Oaks winning rider Leith Innes will fly into partner More Than Sacred again and is sure to give the More Than Ready every chance from gate two while rival Kiwi jockey Vinnie Coglan will kept them in his sights jumping from barrier three.
Last week’s Adrian Knox Stakes winner Royal Descent will jump from two from the outside in nine in the eleven horse field with Jim Cassidy certain to give Dear Demi a quiet ride from gate six.