New Zealand bred mare Sierra Sue recorded a gritty Group One win when prevailing in the Gr.1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday in the hands of Daniel Moor.
Sierra Sue, who carries the colours of Ozzie Kheir and is raced by a host of prominent owners, narrowly prevailed from Dice Roll with the heavily-backed $4.20 favourite I'm Thunderstruck a half-length away third.
Prepared by Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young, the Darci Brahma five-year-old has been in impeccable form this campaign.
Her Cranbourne trainers pulled a masterstroke in late July by taking the mare to the country for a soft kill in the Mildura Cup (1400m).
The confidence boost sparked the mare into winning form with Sierra Sue landing the Gr.2 P B Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at her next outing before a luckless seventh to Superstorm in the Gr.2 Feehan Stakes (1600m).
“It shows last week that we were unlucky. If she gets a break then she wins the Feehan,” Busuttin said.
"If she won the Feehan she would have gone to the Underwood (Gr.1, 1800m) and I think she would have run well against Zaaki.
"The team, Trent Murphy, and everyone who rides the horse have done a fantastic job and it's good to win another big Group One like this."
Busuttin said the Gr.1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) at Flemington October 30 was the logical aim for Sierra Sue, however, the A$2 million The Invitational (1400m) in Sydney a week prior might also be an option.
Daniel Moor could not have asked for a better 37th birthday present than riding Sierra Sue to victory in a Group One race at Caulfield and was moved to tears when the mare provided him with his first win at the elite level.
“I rode a Group One in Mauritius but it's pretty easy to forget about those ones as it's been a life's work here," Moor said.
"You watch people win good races and they get emotional, and you think 'bloody hell they're softies' but it hit me a bit there.
“She dug in deep for me, I’m just so proud of the mare.”
Bred by John Fokerd, Sierra Sue was sold out of Ardsley Stud’s 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock May Sale draft for $2,000 to Te Aroha trainer Peter Lock. Incredibly, she was sold as a broken in two-year-old, one of a handful of older offerings in the May Sale.
A trials winner in New Zealand for Lock, Sierra Sue was purchased privately by a prominent group of Australian owners, headed by developer, hotelier and horseracing identity Ozzie Kheir through eagle-eyed bloodstock agent Phill Cataldo.
“I’ve been lucky enough to source some good horses for Australia over the years, I’ve been doing it for a while now,” Cataldo said.
“I put in the hard yards and sometimes it turns into results.
“I bought Sierra Sue after she won a trial at Te Aroha in impressive fashion. She looked well above average that day and by coincidence I was talking to Trent Busuttin that morning.
“I had heard a bit about Sierra Sue, there was good talk on her. She was having her first trial and I mentioned to him that there was a promising Darci Brahma filly trialling that day.
“He said if she goes well, gives us a call and that is how it unfolded. She won impressively and I rang Trent who bought her for Ozzie Kheir.
“It has been an excellent training performance by Trent and Natalie and she is really firing this campaign.”
For good measure, Cataldo also sourced third place getter I’m Thunderstruck, with the son of Shocking also bought out of a Te Aroha trial win.
Previously a multiple Group Two winner, Sierra Sue is one of 12 individual Group One winners for high class sire Darci Brahma, who stands for $15,000 + GST at The Oaks Stud this season.
Out of a Centaine mare, Sierra Sue’s dam Centree is these days owned by Ardsley Stud and was due to foal to Mongolian Khan, with plans to be served by Darci Brahma this season. – NZ Racing Desk