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Golden run continues for Raffles Farm

The Raffles Dancers team celebrate More Than Sacred's victory in the Gr.3 McKee Family Sunline Vase - Photo NZTM website
The Raffles Dancers team celebrate More Than Sacred's victory in the Gr.3 McKee Family Sunline Vase

Photo NZTM website

The dream run for the Cambridge based Raffles Farm breeding and racing operation continued on Auckland Cup day at Ellerslie when More Than Sacred (Aus) (by More Than Ready [Aus]) scored a dogged win in the Gr. 3 McKee Family Sunline Vase (2100m).

Refusing to be beaten the filly showed plenty of determination, not unlike the champion mare the race is named after, as she fought back to score by a short neck over Savabeel filly Ray's Girl.

The win of More Than Sacred denied the Waikato Stud based Savabeel (Zabeel) a unique treble on the day as progeny of the sire won the other two stakes races on the card – Diademe in the Gr. 3 Westbury Classic and Sangster in the Gr. 1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup.

In an interesting twist there was still a connection to the son of super sire Zabeel as More Than Sacred's dam Danalaga (Aus) (Danehill [USA]) is
carrying a colt by Savabeel after their mating last Spring.

"We really have had a golden run this season and hopefully it can continue a wee while longer," noted Raffles Farm Manager Bruce Sherwin. "We have had winners in New Zealand, Australia and Singapore and with some important races still to come over the next few weeks it would be great if we could continue on the same path."

Saturday will see unbeaten filly Sacred Point (Aus) (Fastnet Rock [Aus]) step out in Gr. 3 company in the Pearl Series race at Ellerslie whilst the Farm's star three year old colt Sacred Falls (O'Reilly) is set to continue his Australian campaign from the Chris Waller stable in the Randwick Guineas in just over a week's time.

"Sacred Falls is on track for the Guineas at Randwick although he will most likely clash with Pierro and All Too Hard so it's not getting any easier for him'" joked Sherwin. "We knew he would be up against what is probably the best crop of three year olds for some years but if you want to win these races you have to take on the best.

"More Than Sacred will now be aimed at the Oaks at Trentham provided she comes through Wednesday's race well. She got home and ate up well so I expect we will be making the late payment for the race on Monday."

Whilst recognised as the breeder of the More Than Ready filly, Raffles Farm bought her dam in foal at the Magic Millions Breeding Sale in 2009. The mare was amongst a package of five bought by Dato Yip Kim San as he established the base for the operation he had recently purchased.

"Danalaga is a lovely big mare with a tremendous pedigree which attracted us to her from the minute we saw the sale catalogue," explained Sherwin. "She was safely in foal to More Than Ready so we went to $250,000 to secure her and add to the other four mares we also purchased at the sale."

The other mares in the package were Woodman (USA) mares Suitely (Aus) and Gr. 2 Concorde Handicap winner Taimana, Lady Of The House (Housebuster [USA]) and Episode (Aus) (Scenic [Ire]).

"We unfortunately lost Taimana after she had produced a Redoute's Choice colt which was a real blow as he went on to fetch $460,000 at the National Yearling sale however the other mares have all done remarkably well and vindicated the decisions we made at the time," said Sherwin." We've sold a Fastnet Rock filly from Suitely for $570,000, an O'Reilly colt from Lady Of The House for $310,000 and a Fastnet Rock filly from Episode for an amazing $700,000 at this year's Premier sale.

"Danalaga's Encosta De Lago filly fetched $105,000 this year and she produced a full brother to More Than Sacred last spring so we couldn't be happier with the way she is going as well.

"We had hoped to mate her to Zabeel but he wasn't available at the time so we went to his son Savabeel who is really starting to kick some goals.

"Funnily enough we denied him a clean sweep of the stakes races on Wednesday but there was still a connection with our winner so that's still a pretty nice achievement"

More Than Sacred's victory came off the back of a gutsy run for third behind New Zealand Filly of the Year series leader Fix (Iffraaj [GB]) at Te Rapa where she showed her grit when running home strongly that day.

"Leith Innes who rode her that day said the further she went the stronger she felt and she showed that again on Wednesday," noted Sherwin."Hopefully that augurs well for the Oaks with that big roomy Trentham track and then we'll need that run of luck we've had to stretch just a bit further."


- Kevin Robertson