Tony Pike has taken the blinkers off Sacred Elixir for the Group Two Vase as the gelding steps up to a distance his trainer has always expected him to relish.
Sacred Elixir has had the blinkers on for shorter races in all but his first career start, but Pike doesn’t believe he needs them over the 2040 metres of Saturday’s Vase at Moonee Valley.
Winner of the Group One J J Atkins Stakes (1600m) in Brisbane as a two-year-old, Sacred Elixir won the Caulfield Guineas Prelude first-up this spring over 1400m before his eighth in the Guineas when Pike felt he over-raced.
“I’ll take the blinkers off and as long as he settles I think we’ll see a different horse,” Pike said.
“It’s always disappointing when you’re second favourite and think you’re a winning chance, but at the end of the day he still ran eighth in the Guineas beaten two-and-a-half lengths.
“It’s always been difficult with him. He’s had so much ability but he’s bred to be a stayer. We tried to keep as much speed in his legs and probably just with the run he had he just got over-racing.”
Sacred Elixir had his first experience of Moonee Valley in a maintenance gallop over 1600m on Tuesday.
“I just wanted to give him a look around the Valley and get him to switch off and relax, which he did,” he said.
Pike says Sacred Elixir is bred to get over a mile-and-a-half (2400m) and he has confidence in him heading toward the Vase and ultimately his main target of the Derby over 2500m at Flemington.
“He’s a very, very good horse,” Pike said.
“He’s just still a baby that’s still learning the game. Once he puts it all together, we know he’s got the ability.
“As long as he can get some cover and switch off on Saturday, he’ll be hitting the line really hard.”