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More Than Sacred wins New Zealand Oaks

The transformation of More Than Sacred (More Than Ready) was completed yesterday when the one-time slouch took centre stage at Trentham with a dominant staying performance to capture the Gr.1 Wellfield New Zealand Oaks.

The More Than Ready three-year-old has required time to strengthen and the patient approach adopted by trainers Tony Pike and Mark Donoghue has now been richly rewarded.“She was an immature filly and was doing a lot wrong in her first preparation, but this time back she has just thrived and improved so much with each run,” Pike said.

More Than Sacred broke her maiden at Te Rapa in January and then stepped up to black type company to finish third in the Gr.2 Cambridge Stud Sir Tristram Fillies’ Classic. She returned to the Waikato track to seal her Oaks spot with victory in the Listed McKee Family Sunline Vase at Ellerslie.

“We’ve always thought 2400 metres would be right up her alley and she’s gone on and proved that,” Pike said.

“They went a lot quicker than we thought early and she was caught wide and had to do a lot of work to get there, but she’s been strong to the line and is a real staying filly.”

More Than Sacred covered extra ground before she went forward to sit outside the leader and was in front soon after straightening. Although headed, her reserves of stamina were to the fore and she strode clear again to win by two lengths.

“She’s tough and an out and out stayer and she’s just stepped up and got better and better with each start,” rider Leith Innes said. “We had a game plan to make it a strong staying test.”

Runner-up Blanket Bay and third placegetter Aurora Lights both carry the colours of The Oaks Stud who provided a classic quinella in the 2012 edition of the event with Artistic downing Zurella in a tight finish.

The dam of More Than Sacred, Danalaga, was purchased by Guy Mulcaster on behalf of Raffles Farm, who bred and race the filly.