A proven gear change is set to boost the chances of big-race performer Sacred Choice in Saturday’s Group One George Main Stakes.
Trainer Joe Pride believes the time is right to re-apply blinkers to the Doncaster winner for the first time since the autumn carnival.
“Blinkers are a big plus for her, she’s a different horse with them on,” Pride said.
Sacred Choice has raced in blinkers seven times, including Group One wins in the Doncaster Mile (1600m) and Myer Classic (1600m) and Group Two success in the Emancipation Stakes (1600m).
The mare has also placed in this year’s Chipping Norton and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and last year’s Epsom Handicap with blinkers on.
Her only unplaced run in blinkers was in the Group One Ranvet Stakes in March.
Sacred Choice has been unplaced in two appearances this season but Pride says her performances have been “a lot better” than her opening two starts of her autumn campaign.
“So we’re hopeful she’s going to improve as much into her third run as she did last time,” Pride said.
Sacred Choice placed in the Group One Chipping Norton (1600m) third-up in March on her way to victory in the Doncaster.
Pride’s major concern heading into the George Main is the switch from the Randwick mile to 1500m at Rosehill.
“It’s certainly not a plus for her to be coming back to 1500 metres but at the same time it’s going to get her ready for her next assignment,” he said.
“It will be interesting to see the final field. She’s not going to get her preferred wet track so you couldn’t be too confident but I think she’ll run well and a first three finish would be great.”
Sacred Choice was given 56kg for the Epsom Handicap on October 1 when weights were released on Monday, and Pride said the mare was likely to attempt the Doncaster-Epsom double.
“I’m pretty pleased with that (56kg), I think she’s pretty reasonably weighted for a dual Group One winner,” he said.
The trainer also hasn’t ruled out a Cox Plate appearance later this campaign.
“If she was really impressive in her next two starts, I wouldn’t rule it out at all,” he said.
Tom’s Rocket is also among George Main nominations but Pride confirmed the first-up winner would start in the Group Three Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) alongside resuming stablemate Miss Keepsake.
“I had the feeling there would be six or seven noms for the George Main and a heap for the Bill Ritchie but that wasn’t the case, so he’ll go to the Bill Ritchie,” Pride said.