Form lines will converge in the Caulfield Guineas Prelude with the field set to include Group One winners Astern and Sacred Elixir who will both be making their Melbourne debuts.
Godolphin colt Astern was dominant in the Group One Golden Rose last Saturday week in Sydney and is the $3.20 favourite for next month’s Caulfield Guineas.
The Tony Pike-trained New Zealander Sacred Elixir won the Group One J J Atkins Stakes (1600m) in Brisbane during the winter carnival and has his first start as a three-year-old in Saturday’s Prelude over 1400m.
Sacred Elixir shares the second line of Guineas betting at $9 with Divine Prophet.
“He’s really going well. He’s settled into Melbourne really well,” Pike said.
“He’ll kick off in the Caulfield Guineas Prelude which is going to be 1400 metres which is well short of his best, but we’ll just be looking for him to hit the line strongly in that race.
“And obviously once he gets up in trip, he should be able to pick up one of the nice three-year-old staying races over the carnival.”
After the Caulfield Guineas (1600m) Sacred Elixir is likely to go to The Vase over 2040m on Cox Plate day at Moonee Valley before the Victoria Derby (2500m).
“Obviously he’s nominated for the Cox Plate but, to be honest, he’d probably have to be dominant in the Caulfield Guineas to take that path,” Pike said.
“We’ve always thought he was more of a Derby-type of horse than a short-course horse. So that looks like the likely option at this stage.”
Pike took notice of Astern’s Golden Rose win and also the early season Melbourne races.
“I think the Sydney three-year-olds have probably got it on the Melbourne three-year-olds at this point in time,” he said.
“He looks pretty impressive, Astern. Going through the markets after that, there’s four or five three-year-olds that are all around the same sort of price and it’s pretty wide open behind him at the moment.”
Damian Lane is set to ride Sacred Elixir in the Prelude and stablemate Rangipo in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes if Pike is happy with the New Zealand Derby winner after he gallops on Tuesday.
Pike lost Queensland Oaks winner Provocative last week to the breeding barn after she was found to have injured a tendon.
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au