Hong Kong-based hoop Zac Purton has been booked to ride leading contender Sacred Elixir in Saturday’s 2016 Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington Racecourse.
Purton has ridden Sacred Elixir in two of his nine career starts so far, and was last seen in the saddle of the gelding when the pair comfortable beat a talented field to the line in the Group 1 JJ Atkins (1600m) at Eagle Farm on June 11th.
Damian Lane has so far taken the ride on the son of Pour Moir for his three starts this time, highlighted by impressive wins in both the Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) and Group 2 Moonee Valley Vase (2040m) most recently.
New Zealand representative for owners Raffles Racing, Bruce Sherwin told The Informant that Purton has in fact been the first choice to partner the three-year-old all season, but the 2016 Victoria Derby will figure as the first time the hoop will be able to take the ride.
“Zac has had first call on the ride all spring but this is the first time he has been able to commit due to the Hong Kong Jockey Club rules,” Sherwin said.
Trainer Tony Pike was understandably pleased with Sacred Elixir’s return to winning form at Moonee Valley over the weekend and revealed that the horse has come through the run well, and is subsequently primed for the Victoria Derby 2016.
“He had to clear a tricky spot on the turn but it was a pretty comfortable win in the end,” Pike said.
“When I checked him over on Sunday morning he was very bright, so it’s all go for next Saturday.”
“It’s just good to see him back in winning form.”
“We could have been a little bit disappointed with his Guineas run but he got quite fired-up pre-race and just over-raced, and that was probably the telling factor.
“Hughie (Bowman on Veladero) sort of pushed him into the fence there for a while but once he got clear air there, he wobbled a bit around the corner but was really strong late.”
“All goes well for next week. We always thought he was a Derby horse – he’s got a real stayer’s pedigree. He’s just had the ability and class to compete over shorter trips.”
Arriving in Australia for a comfortable win in the Bundaberg Rum Handicap (1400m) on May 11th, Sacred Elixir ran on well for sixth in the Group 2 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1350m), before taking out the JJ Atkins.
The 2016 Victoria Derby field and barrier draw is due to be completed and released by midday, Wednesday (October 26th).
Ladbrokes.com.au is currently offering Sacred Elixir at 2016 Victoria Derby odds of $3.40.