By Glenn Davis
Kiwi trainer Tony Pike is hopeful Terra Sancta can follow a proven provincial formula to claim his second Group 1 Queensland Oaks at Doomben on Saturday.
Terra Sancta finished eighth in the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks in March and was then sent to Australia with the aim of qualifying for the Queensland Oaks which Pike won with Provocative in 2016.
Provocative and Terra Sancta were in the same position when they first landed on Australian soil and needed prizemoney to qualify for the Queensland Oaks.
Provocative won a 2190 metre race at Ipswich in her Australian debut to qualify for the Queensland Oaks but was an Oaks emergency and only snuck into the field following a late withdrawal.
Terra Sancta came from near last to also win at Ipswich over 1666 metres in her Australia debut on May 7.
But Pike feared she was still in jeopardy of missing the Queensland Oaks and entered her for a Class Two at the Sunshine Coast last Sunday which she again won impressively.
Pike, who also won the Group 1 J J Atkins with Sacred Elixir in 2016, has no fears about Terra Sancta running a strong 2200-metres despite not winning past 1666 metres.
“She ran over 2400 metres in the New Zealand Oaks and although she was beaten it was a lot better run than on paper,” Pike said.
“Her sectionals were one of the best in the race and she was an 80-1 chance in only her fourth Stakes race.”
Pike also is unconcerned about her backing-up six days after her Sunshine Coast victory.
“I don’t think the back-up will matter. I’ve had a lot of success backing up horses in the past,” he said.
“Jim (Byrne) was very easy on her at Caloundra and she’ll be hitting the ling well.
“I think she’s a genuine place chance at worst and she’ll see the trip out better than most.
‘Beating the Waller army is virtually impossible but she’ll be right there at the finish.”
The Queensland Oaks is dominated by Sydney’s Chris Waller who has five runners in the field of 16.
Meanwhile Thousand Guineas winner Aloisia has recovered from a minor ailment to start in her fourth Oaks.
Aloisia was sent to Brisbane after finishing sixth in the Group 1 Australasian Oaks at Morphettville won by Sopressa on May 5.
The Ciaron Maher-trained filly previously finished seventh to Unforgotten in the Group 1 ATC Oaks at Randwick on April 7 and sixth in the VRC Oaks at Flemington in November.
“She had a stomach upset when she got off the flight from Melbourne but she’s fine now,” Maher said.
Maher gave the green light to start in the Oaks after a searching track gallop on Tuesday.
“She’s been up a while and has been drawing bad gates but she’s got barrier seven this time,” he said.
Racing Queensland webnews May 24