Sacred Mountain in record-breaking win at Cambridge

By Barry Lichter

“We were running but I didn’t think we were going that fast.”

It came as news to trainer-driver Nicky Chilcott that Sacred Mountain broke the New Zealand mares’ record for a mobile 2200 metres in Thursday night's $40,000 Cambridge Trotters’ Flying Stakes - but she described as “insane” the feeling she had while flying along in front.

“It’s just the best feeling when you’re in front and charging.

“I like to look at the sectionals on the semaphore board but it wasn’t working tonight. The way she felt though she was never going to get beaten.

“She can get too keen sometimes - I’ve been parallel in the cart on her before - so you have to let her run a bit but she was a “good” keen tonight and there was no handing.”

Luckily, Chilcott said rival driver Josh Dickie quickly got the message that there was no lead for the favourite Resolve when he loomed alongside.

“She felt unreal the whole race and, while I didn’t have oodles left at the finish, she was still running as strongly as at the top of the straight.”

Sacred Mountain stopped the clock at 2:41.8, one tenth of a second faster than the national mares’ record set in 2017 by Habibti Ivy in winning the Anzac Cup at Auckland.

The enormity of the effort is evidenced by the times of the last two winners of the Flying Stakes - last year Majestic Man recorded 2:44.6 and the previous year it took Bolt For Brilliance 2:42.6.

Sacred Mountain’s mile rate of 1:58.3 was also faster than the 1:58.8 clocking by Oscar Bonavena when he won the race in 2020 when it was run over the shorter distance of 1609 metres.

Chilcott had her foot down so much she only had to run her final 800 metres in 59 and 400 in 28.5 to beat the late-closing Kiss And Run by three-quarters of a length. Resolve weakened to fourth after sitting parked and the expected challenge from second favourite All Cashed Up never eventuated after he galloped early in the race and ran last.

The Group 3 win, which earned Melbourne owners Merv and Meg Butterworth a $22,000 stake, was Chilcott’s biggest for some time and virtually demands that she now test the mare against the very best.

“We had a little toe in the water last season, knowing full well that only with the right trip might we sneak a bit of money in the short course races.

“But we’ve probably got to have a crack at races like the Rowe Cup now because that’s all that there is for her.

“She has the two Breeders Stakes races at Cambridge and Auckland coming up but she’ll be on such a big handicap it almost takes her out of it.”

Chilcott said she knew early in the now six-year-old’s preparation that she had advanced to a new level and she was gobsmacked when she performed so poorly first-up then turned into a real Jekyll and Hyde in her temperament.

It was only after Matamata vet Barbara Hunter recommended increasing her ulcer medication by 2ml that “Milly” reverted to her old mild self - and her performances lifted accordingly.

Sacred Mountain (Muscle Hill - Ace Of Diamonds) has now won 10 races and $143,132 in stakes.

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