Trainer Tony Pike is confident seasoned sprinter Sacred Star will be tough to beat when he lines up for the Listed Glasshouse Handicap (1400m) on the Sunshine Coast this weekend.
Sacred Star began his racing career under the guidance of leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller before transferring to the care of Pike in late 2012, and has experienced plenty of success in Queensland through several hit-and-run carnival missions.
Clearly requiring a run when arriving in Brisbane for eleventh in the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) on May 14th, the Flying Spur gelding produced a typically gutsy effort in the season’s showpiece race when fifth in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) last time out on June 11th.
The Glasshouse Handicap is a big step back in class for the rising seven-year-old, and Pike is confident the horse will enjoy the conditions on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.
“I only realistically thought he was a very rough place chance in the Stradbroke, so he ran very well with all things considered,” Pike told The Courier Mail.
“I have kept him in Queensland because there is nothing in New Zealand for him at this time of year.
“The Glasshouse looks a good race for him, it is certainly a significant drop back in grade.”
Pike revealed a berth in the Listed Ramornie Handicap (1200m) at Grafton on July 13th may also figure for Sacred Star, should he perform well in the Glasshouse Handicap on Saturday.
“Depending on how he races on Saturday, I might also look at keeping him in Australia for the Ramornie,” he said.
Sacred Star has posted an impressive nine wins and two minors through thirty-one career starts so far, undoubtedly highlighted by his two Group 1 wins in New Zealand.
Taking out each of the Group 1 Telegraph Stakes (1200m) and Group 1 NRM Sprint (1400m) across the ditch upon resuming in 2015, Sacred Star laid a typically good account for himself in Australia when fifth in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) and sixth in the Stradbroke Handicap.
Resuming this year for fourth in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1200m), the gelding out of Irish Nova failed to fire when eleventh in his defence of the Telegraph Stakes but placed fourth in the NRM Sprint and won the Group 3 Darley Plate (1200m) in the lead-up to his Australian return.
The 2016 Glasshouse Handicap field and barrier draw is due to be completed and released by midday, Wednesday.