By Michael Lee – STC
Progressive galloper Sacred Croix showed no letting up in his current brilliant form after he brought up a fourth win in a row on Sunday.
Though rising in grade in the $70,000 Goodman 2014 Stakes, a Class 3 race over 1600m after he last saluted in Class 4 company one month ago, the Savabeel four-year-old was just as lethal when he unleashed a solid acceleration inside the last 300m.
Well ridden by regular partner Benny Woodworth, Sacred Croix came off his smothered run in midfield to stake his claim shortly after straightening.
As pacemaker Super Dynasty (Iskandar Rosman) showed the white flag, a bunched-up group of horses pounced, with Nationality (Ben Thompson) and Destroyer Eclipse (Vlad Duric) spearheading the charge.
But the biggest move hailed from Sacred Croix as he stormed onto the scene at the 300m, steadily gaining the ascendancy before he put his rivals to the sword rather easily. Stablemate Richebourg (Glen Boss) quickened home late to grab second place 1 ½ lengths away with Destroyer Eclipse winning the battle for third place by a short head from Nationality.
The winning time was 1min 34.34secs for the 1600m on the Long Course.
Winning trainer Mark Walker said the four-in-a-row was a feat seldom accomplished in Singapore and for Sacred Croix to do so as he rose through his grades was even more commendable.
“It’s never easy for horses to win four in a row when they race here or in Hong Kong because the ratings go up so quickly,” said the Kiwi mentor.
“He’s a nice progressive horse who had a freshen-up. He will run on Kranji Mile day (May 25) and we may then look at the 4YO series for him.
“Richebourg is also going really well. He was meant to run in a Class 3 race over 1400m on Friday but he was balloted fourth, he ran out of his skin.”
With a record now showing four wins from as many associations, Woodworth has certainly developed a close affinity with the Dato Yap Kim San-owned galloper ever since he sat on him in a barrier trial in January, and it’s not surprising he calls him the complete package.
“This horse keeps winning and keeps improving with each run. Today, he was stepping up in distance, was 11kgs up in weights, but he’s done a good job to win again,” said the Malaysian jockey.
“He’s a very easy horse to ride. He jumps fast, settles very well and when you ask him to lengthen up, he does it so easily.”
Backed at $27, Sacred Croix has now taken his record to four wins from five starts for prizemoney that has now tipped over the $100,000 mark for the Raffles Racing Stable of Dr Yap.
Walker and Woodworth were actually at a double having combined earlier with $111 smokie Ancient Warrior when he stole a march on his rivals in the $50,000 Quechua 2016 Stakes, a Class 4 race over 1700m, with the Kiwi handler later going on to claim the training honours with a treble courtesy of Te Akau Racing Stable newcomer Barbeque ($42) in the $70,000 Chase Me 2012 Stakes, a Class 3 race over 1200m.
Ridden by Vlad Duric, the Helmet four-year-old was not really expected to score at his first Kranji run, as his form had been better over more ground back in New Zealand.
But in one of those typical driving finishes that Duric has a knack of winning, Barbeque dived through a needlehole passage between Wonderful (Woodworth) and Super Ray (Zuriman Zulkifli) to gain the verdict by a short head from that duo in that same order. The winning time was 1min 11.6secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.
“I didn’t think he could win first-up today, but Vlad rode him very well.,” said Walker.
“I have to thank David and Karyn Ellis for buying this horse as the owners who were supposed to buy him let me down. He’s a very nice horse who was brought in for the Derby.”
The Group 1 Singapore Derby (1800m) is the third and last Leg of the Singapore Four-Year-Old Challenge and will be run on July 21.