The first visit to Grafton by Cambridge based Tony Pike was immensely successful with Sacred Day (NZ) stepping up grades to win the $160,000, listed G McMullan Contracting Grafton Cup (2350m) on Thursday more than doubling the four-year-old’s previous earnings in the process.
Before the race Pike, while enthusing about the country raceday atmosphere, was more thinking that the raceday experience for Sacred Day would be more to gain traction for later. But a light-weight of 54kg and a ground saving ride off the turn by Ben Looker turned the event into their favour.
There was good pace for the trip with Vaucluse Bay (54kg) and Jason Collett and Sopressa (56.5kg) and Matthew McGillivray well positioned in the middle of the track to launch for the lead as the field entered the final straight.
From further back in the field Looker saw the opportunity to head towards the inside and he sent Sacred Day forward to join the two in front on their inside. The three then went stride for stride and Sacred Day was able to sustain the run and at the line have a 1/2L edge.
Sopressa (So You Think) and McGillivray were second with Vaucluse Bay (Al Maher) and Collett third, the margin a neck. The $4.20 favourite Igraine was fourth.
The time was 2.26.46 on the Good 4 track with the final 600m in 35.95. Sacred Day paid $14.00 on fixed odds and $12.30 on the tote.
“To win a Grafton Cup I cannot describe it,” said Grafton based Looker.
“I had a beautiful run. There is no reason why he cannot come back in twelve months and defend the Cup. He is still learning and has a big future,” he said.
“I always through he was a progressive stayer and I think he can go on from here. It was a nice cool ride by Ben,” said Pike.
Sacred Day came into Thursday’s feature off a Doomben mid-week win over 2240m at Benchmark 65 carrying 59kg back on June 19th, at that stage his third win from 15 starts. While Pike’s pre-race comments of Sacred Day looking for the experience with the step up to the Grafton Cup, the end result backed his post-race comments of a lightly raced stayer coming through.
Sacred Day is by Azamour out of the O’Reilly mare Top Of The Day and his fourth win have taken his stakes to $159,646 for owners Raffles Thoroughbred Racing.