Raffles Racing roll the dice as big money offers roll in

4 min read
Surely Sacred has the type of profile Hong Kong love but Raffles Racing is keeping him closer to home, for now, on what is a big week at the sales for the Cambridge farm.

By Michael Cox

Raffles Racing have spurned the big money offers for Surely Sacred (Rock 'N' Pop) so far and a terrific barrier for the L. Karaka Million 3YO Classic could be the key to boosting his value even more with a win on Saturday.

Surely Sacred, a winner of two from three, heads into the feature off a sensational last-to-first performance in the G2 Auckland Guineas and his obvious scope for improvement has cashed-up Hong Kong buyers circling.

"He is a gelding, so the money he can earn in prizemoney is overshadowed by what he can earn by being sold to Hong Kong." - Raffles Racing's manager, Bruce Sherwin

"He is a gelding, so the money he can earn in prizemoney is overshadowed by what he can earn by being sold to Hong Kong," Raffles Racing's manager Bruce Sherwin told TDN AusNZ. "We have had some significant offers since that last G2 win, but we have just put that on hold until after this race, where he could enhance his value."

Drawing gate four certainly enhanced Surely Sacred's chances, with the Tony Pike-trained prospect firming into second favourite behind Madison County (Pins {NZ}) after other leading chances Long Leaf (Fastnet Rock) and Media Sensation (I Am Invincible) drew wide.

Surely Sacred cost $160,000 as a yearling and Sherwin said the raw talent had "snuck under the radar" through some understated trials.

"He didn't show much in the barrier trials but he has just kept on improving, and what he is doing now suggests he is right out of the top drawer," Sherwin said.

Watch: Surely Sacred as a yearling

"He over-achieved in his first start, he sat wide and won, and then we put him in a G2 second start and he stepped up again. He was a bit lost around Ellerslie that day but then he improved again. His last win was very impressive considering there was no pace in that race and he mowed them down from last with some very good sectionals."

"What he is doing now suggests he is right out of the top drawer." - Bruce Sherwin

Raffles will be active on both sides of the sales ring come Sunday as buyers and sellers, with seven lots consigned to vendors at the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale.

Raffles Racing owner, Dato Yap (right)

Six of those yearlings are in Book 1 and arguably the highlight lot provides a link to the mare that started it all for Data Yap and his son Kyan.

Lot 345 by Savabeel (NZ) is a filly out of G1 Auckland Cup winner Rock Diva (Lucky Unicorn), a half-sister to superstar mare Shamrocker (O'Reilly {NZ}). "Shamrocker was the first horse we bought into back in 2009," Sherwin said. "The filly out of Rock Diva is the star of the show for us while there are others that should attract a lot of attention."

Lot 345 Savabeel x Rock Diva (NZ)

Lot 664 is certainly one of those, a colt by Tavistock (NZ) from Danalaga (Danehill {USA}), a half-sister to Raffles' G1 New Zealand Oaks winner More Than Sacred (More Than Ready {USA}).

"He is a quality colt and the kind of horse you would expect Australian buyers to target with a view to heading to the classics with him," Sherwin said.

"He is a quality colt." - Bruce Sherwin

Raffles Racing, which has been in operation for just over ten years and has 35 broodmares on its 65-hectare farm at Cambridge, also retains a 15 per cent share in its former star Sacred Falls.

Sacred Falls was the leading first season sire at the 2018 Karaka Yearling sale, making his oldest progeny now two, and there are more than 50 yearlings by the stallion catalogued for sale in Book 1, three of them from Raffles Racing.

Sacred Falls

"The feedback from the trainers has been fantastic, they are telling me he will produce plenty of winners through the autumn," Sherwin said.

"That isn't dissimilar to himself, as he didn't debut until June of his 2-year-old season. Maybe he will be a bit undervalued by people because he hasn't produced a winner yet, but we are more than happy with the horses we have had through the system."