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Chilcott ready to take calls on Sacred Mountain

Could Sacred Mountain get a TAB Trot colt? - Photo: Angelique Birdson
Could Sacred Mountain get a TAB Trot colt?

Photo: Angelique Birdson

Trainer Nicky Chilcott is half hoping the phone might ring from a TAB Trot slot holder given the fast times Sacred Mountain is running this season.

In winning the Gr.3 Dunstan Horsefeeds Flying Stakes at Cambridge last month Sacred Mountain went a tenth of a second under the New Zealand mares’ record for 2200 metres, the distance of the inaugural $575,000 Trot Slot on April 12.

And last Friday night at Alexandra Park, the Muscle Hill mare was arguably even more impressive on the clock in running Breeders’ Stakes winner Jasinova to half a length.

From her 35 metre back mark, over a distance further than she prefers in 2700 metres, Sacred Mountain clocked a sensational 3:24.8, just nine tenths of a second outside Pretty Majestic’s national mares’ mark and only 1.5 seconds slower than Bolt For Brilliance’s all-comers’ record.

The effort, 2.7 seconds faster than the winner and two seconds quicker than the favourite Sunny’s Sister, confirmed Sacred Mountain is really in the zone.

“She’s definitely risen to a new level this season and with her great speed she wouldn’t disgrace herself in a race like the Trot Slot,” Chilcott said.

With only one other mare, Queen Elida, confirmed for the Cambridge speed test, Sacred Mountain would draw one or two, with mares getting the advantageous inside draws.

Sacred Mountain showed what she could do from the pole on last year’s Night of Champions at Cambridge when she ran third to Aldebaran Zeus and Love N The Port in the Waikato Flying Mile, clocking 1:56.7.

“I’m not saying she could beat a horse like Just Believe but I’d like to think she’s ready to take on the best trotters.

“You don’t know if she’s going to be competitive against the top ones until you try but there was one race last year that made me think she would be.”

Despite sitting parked for the first half of Eurokash’s Group II Anzac Cup (2200m), Sacred Mountain was still right in the fight 200 metres out and, but for grabbing one rein badly, would have finished much closer than a length and a half behind fourth-placed favourite Oscar Bonavena.

“She’s a much better horse this year and she’s so potent over the sprint trips I’d love to see her get her chance in the Trot Slot.”

Check out the status of The Trot Slot declarations, however, and it seems a longshot that Sacred Mountain will get there.

While only three of the eight Trot Slot holders have confirmed their runners - Just Believe, Callmethebreeze and Queen Elida - four others would seem almost locked in.

Oscar Bonavena is the obvious rep for his owners, the All Stars and Chris Ryder slot, Muscle Mountain looks a cert for owners Cullen Breeding and Bolt For Brilliance, if over an operation for an entrapped epiglottis, should take Tony Herlihy’s Strike Won Racing slot.

And you’d expect Australian breeders Aldebaran Park to select its own Aldebaran Zeus, if he comes up well enough after returning from an American campaign.

That leaves only John Green’s Hidden Honey slot looking for a runner in what is shaping up as the strongest trotting race run in the southern hemisphere.

Chilcott proved spot on in her prediction that Sacred Mountain was ready for a big effort in the Breeders last Friday night, brushing aside the mare’s failure in the Cambridge equivalent a couple of weeks earlier.

That race came just too soon - three days after Sacred Mountain had waltzed home over a mile at Auckland.

While she hardly raised a sweat on the track that night, her pre-race antics obviously conspired against her recovery.

“We’re learning about her all the time and she takes so much out of herself on race night. She sweats and shakes and winds herself into a frenzy but, weirdly, the minute you put the cart on and walk into the birdcage she drops the bit and flops along, reins in the dust sheet.

“She was terrible again last Friday night. I’d love to see what she could do if she’d only learn to relax before the race.”

Chilcott said she was lucky she got all favours in Friday’s Group Three Breeders - “but that’s the only way you can get into a race like that when you’re off a big mark, you need luck.

“You can never make a pre-race plan but I thought if I trotted away I’d hunt the rail, you can’t win going around them. Early on I was following horses I knew would never cart me into it but you just hope.”

The turning point of the race came at the 1400 metres when, five deep on the markers, Chilcott had to take evasive action when the horse in front of her, Sans Au Revoir, broke.

“I yelled at Roydon (Downey) to go inside the pylons but he didn’t so I had to go around him. Then he got back trotting and I couldn’t go back down, I had no option but to stay where I was.

“I genuinely didn’t know at the time if I’d be in trouble for breaching the push-out rule.”

Chilcott said even after she was in the running line, Sacred Mountain never gave her the feeling of being a winner but she really scooted when hooked out 450 metres from home.

“I could see Luk (Chin) had pinched a break but on the turn I thought we might run top three. She was on tired legs at the finish but was super brave and tried her heart out.

“She’s really in the zone.” - Barry Lichter 


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