Fresh off his win in last weekend’s Super Vase at Moonee Valley, the Tony Pike-trained Sacred Elixir looks a class above his rivals and can provide the headline act in this Saturday’s Victoria Derby (Race 7) as the four-day Flemington carnival kicks off with a sensational card of racing.
A winner of the JJ Atkins in the winter, Pike has set this gelding for the Derby all along and his chances were only increased on Wednesday when he drew the rails in the 16-runner affair.
Hong Kong-based hoop Zac Purton is making the journey across to take the ride having steered him to a popular triumph at Eagle Farm back in June.
Our traders have always had a positive opinion of this horse and feel he’ll be even better suited by the more cavernous Flemington track after being tightened for room at the Valley and forced to change direction at the top of the straight, whereupon he hit the line with plenty of vigour.
With last year’s winner Tarzino following a similar path through the Caulfield Guineas and the Vase, we’re happy enough to accommodate punters wanting to back Sacred Elixir but will be looking to lay runners around him at every opportunity and expect him to prove too strong.
Robbie Laing and Hugh Bowman combined to win the Derby with Polanski back in 2013 and they’ll hope to enjoy similar success with second pick So Si Bon, who stuck on gamely behind Sacred Elixir at the Valley and should be better suited on a drier track.
However, we’re not convinced that he’ll be able to cope with the bay’s greater turn of foot and are struggling to come up with a way he can turn the tables on that result.
Mick Price will be represented by Rocketeer, who has been knocking on the door all preparation and appears ideally suited by the step up to 2500m after charging home to narrowly miss out to Good Standing in the Norman Robinson Stakes at Caulfield a fortnight ago.
This gelding has race experience around Flemington having finished on the wrong end of a head bobbing finish to fellow Derby combatant Wine Bush in the UCI Stakes over 1800m at his previous start but he’s drawn off the track and will likely be conceding them a decent start again which makes him hard to recommend at the prices.
Instead, our traders felt the best each-way value in the market lay with last start winner Captain Duffy(pictured above), who covered extra ground throughout from the outside draw but still managed to run them into the ground in the Geelong Classic with a hugely meritorious performance.
Having landed far more favourably in two, expect him to hunt forward out of the gate and give them something to get past with trainer Phillip Stokes, who has enjoyed plenty of success over Cup week in recent years, noting the extra distance will prove no obstacle for his dour stayer.
Of the others, with connections of Good Standing electing to bypass the Derby in favour of the Emirates (formerly Mackinnon), Champagne Stakes winner Prized Icon should be ready to peak as he looks to give James Cummings a maiden victory in a race won by grandfather Bart on five separate occasions. But he’ll need to find something having been beaten five lengths in the Vase.
While the powerful Hawkes stable will be represented by both Swear, who made Oaks favourite Yankee Rose work in the Spring Champion Stakes but may be a doubt at the 2500m and Inference, a capable colt who should also be running home strongly.
1. Sacred Elixir
2. Captain Duffy
4. So Si Bon