New Zealand-trained Sacred Star returned to Australian racing with a win in the 2014 QTC Cup to give jockey Tim Bell a feature race treble.
Bell took out the 2014 Group 2 Queensland Guineas (1400m) with Sir Moments and Tinto in the Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) before earning Sacred Star a start in the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap next weekend with a well-time ride in the QTC Cup.
Sacred Star was well-backed throughout the week, after scoring an impressive barrier trial victory over Adebisi, to take out the QTC Cup before drifting late in betting, but Bell said that he was always confident the son of Flying Spur would take out the Group 2 event.
“It feels pretty good and it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Bell said.
“Even though that trial was very good, I was that confident on his form alone.
“They don’t rate really highly the Group 1’s in New Zealand and he was a bit unlucky.
“Today he had such a lovely run in transit, a gem of a ride, and he was probably a little bit closer than anticipated, but when you draw a good gate and they bounce why drag them back.
“That was as good a win as any.”
The winner of the QTC Cup is awarded ballot-exempt entry into the Stradbroke Handicap and trainer Tony Pike confirmed that Sacred Star would back up in the feature race of the 2014 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival next weekend.
Pike admitted that he did not want to get carried away after Sacred Star’s strong barrier trial performance and said that he was happy the four-year-old had been able to transfer that form to the races.
“He was very short and everybody was wrapping him up out of that barrier trial, but barriers trials are only barrier trials and they have trapped a lot of people in the past.
“It was good to get this out of the day today and that will take a bit of freshness out of him; he was little bit keen early and was closer to the speed than normal.
“He does have a tendency to get there and think the job is done and the faster they go, the harder he has to hit the line and the later he gets there, the better he is.
“We will roll the dice in the Stradbroke as long as he pulls up well; that is what we are here for and we have to have a go.
“We will be there having a crack at it.”
Sacred Star will carry 52.5 kilograms in the Stradbroke Handicap and the final field for the Group 1 event will be released next Wednesday.