Kiwi trainer wants luck in Stradbroke running for Sacred Star after horror draw

Sacred Star Photo: Mick Tsikas
Sacred Star Photo: Mick Tsikas

New Zealand trainer Tony Pike is getting used to the visitor's draw but still believes Sacred Star can add some cream to his Australian trip in Saturday's Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm.

The Flying Spur four-year-old only earned his place in Queensland's biggest race by winning the $176,500 QTC Cup last Saturday and, like many of the top hopes, drew poorly when he came up with gate 20 at Wednesday's barrier call.

"He had to win there [in the QTC Cup] to get into this race and it hasn't done him any harm, and he has paid for the trip now," Pike said. "The barrier is not ideal but I'm getting used to them now. Rock Diva had the outside in the Oaks last week."

She managed to run on for fourth in Tinto's Queensland Oaks and will back-up in Saturday's Queensland Derby and Zac Purton flies in from Hong Kong for the ride.

However, Pike is focussed on the $1.38 million Stradbroke (1400 metres) and says Sacred Star can match the effort of Linton from last year and win from an outside gate.

"There does look to be a bit of speed in the race and it is drawn out with us, so that will be a help," Pike said. "You can win Stradbrokes from there, but you need to get the right run and a bit of luck."

Pre-post favourite Srikandi got barrier 17, Rebel Dane 22, Red Tracer 16 and Temple Of Boom 18 in a draw that reshaped betting.

Ladbrokes made South Australian three-year-old Hucklebuck the $5 favourite after he got the coveted rails alley of one. Srikandi was out to $6 after dominating the top of betting for the past couple of weeks with Rebel Dane and Spirit Of Boom, which fared well getting gate six, on the next line of betting at $7.50.

Pike said the barrier could be a help for $12 chance Sacred Star, which has a habit of stargazing if he gets to the front too soon.

"He always travels really well in his races, so it will be up to Tim [Bell] to get get some cover," Pike said. "If he can be three deep with cover and doing nothing until the 300 [metres], he is a big chance of getting over the top."

Earlier in the day, Rock Diva will try to beat the boys in the Queensland Derby after impressing Pike with her recovery after the Oaks.

"It wasn't the plan, and if she had won the Oaks that would have been it," he said. "She didn't have that hard a run last week and she is looks great.

"When I decided to run her, the owners [Raffles racing] were keen to get Zac down here because they have had a bit of luck with him through Sacred Falls. He couldn't ride Sacred Star because it didn't get his weight, but he will be a bonus for the filly."

Meanwhile, Racing Queensland stewards will question Chris Waller on Saturday about late nominations for Coup Ay Tee and Tromso in the Strawberry Road Handicap, where Eigelstein will run. The pair were at the top of the weights but when they did not accept, weights were lifted two kilograms compressing the handicap.

Waller will play a big role in the group 1 racing on Saturday with his Vilanova the Queeensland Derby favourite and Brazen Beau top pick in the J.J. Atkins.

This story Kiwi trainer wants luck in Stradbroke running for Sacred Star after horror draw first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.