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Sacred Master To Cap Memorable Week For Pike
It has already been an Auckland Cup carnival to savour for Cambridge trainer Tony Pike and exciting stayer Sacred Master can put the icing on the cake with victory in tomorrow's Gr1 Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie, reports NZ Racing Desk. Last weekend Pike produced Rangipo to win the Gr1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) with stable-mate Raghu running a gallant third, while his dual Gr1 winner Sacred Star bounced back to top form with victory in the Gr3 Darley Plate (1200m). Sacred Master (Mastercraftsman-Trickle, by Storm Creek) will start a warm favourite for the Auckland Cup after a brilliant trial in the Gr2 Avondale Cup. The Raffles Racing-owned 4YO confirmed his status as the most promising stayer in the country when scoring a fast-finishing win in the 2400 metre feature on 20 February. "Here's hoping. It's been a fantastic carnival for us so far and we're going into Saturday pretty confident he's going to run a big race," Pike said. "I can't fault his condition. He galloped brilliantly here on Tuesday morning. He's just heading the right way. He's obviously very progressive." Pike prepared Rock Diva to win last year's Auckland Cup for similar connections carrying the 52kg minimum, though that race was run under handicap conditions and this year the race has changed to set-weights and penalties that sees Sacred Master carrying 55kg. "The change in the weight scale is against him. He's got to carry 55 and there's a big turnaround against horses like Benzini [who Sacred Master meets 6.5kg worse off]," he said. "But he's a good horse. He's come through the grades very well and it's probably not the strongest Auckland Cup we've ever seen. And he's peaking at the right time." He added: "I'd expect him to go close but whether it's a year too soon, we'll find out on Saturday."