Trainer Tony Pike is hoping that Sacred Star can earn a start in the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap by winning the Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Sacred Star made his racing debut in 2012 under the care of Chris Waller, recording two wins from seven starts, before returning to New Zealand with an unlucky tenth in the 2012 Group 1 Levin Classic (1600m).
The Flying Spur gelding performed well at Group level during his summer preparation, finishing in the placings in both the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham on January 25 and the Group 1 NRM Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa on February 8, but had not accumulated enough stakes money to earn a start in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 7.
Pike told Sky Racing HQ that he had set Sacred Star for a first-up tilt at the QTC Cup in order to chase the ballot exempt entry into the Stradbroke Handicap and believes that the four-year-old will run well this weekend.
“That was the plan,” Pike said.
“Obviously he was never going to make the Stradbroke field off his racing and we targeted the QTC Cup with the hope that he could back up in the Stradbroke the week after.
“His trial was very good at Doomben two weeks ago and he runs well fresh and his work since he has been here in Queensland has been outstanding.
“That barrier draw is going to help him and he is definitely in there with a good chance.
“He has progressed well in his last preparation and he is up the Group 1 horses back home.
“We are just hoping that he is competitive on Saturday.”
Sacred Star will jump from barrier four when he is ridden by Tim Bell in the QTC Cup on Saturday and Pike said that he believes the barrier is ideal for the Raffles Thoroughbred Racing-owned gelding, who is capable of showing impressive acceleration in the concluding stages of races.
“That will be ideal,” Pike said.
“He is a horse that will probably settle midfield and he is a horse that really needs to be held up for the last crack at them, so the barrier is probably ideal for him.”
Sacred Star is chasing his first win in Australia since he took out the Startrack Handicap (1900m) at Rosehill Gardens on November 12.