Via Harry Troy, Macau Jockey Club
Sacred Capital defied an interrupted preparation and the extreme outside barrier to run away with the 28th running of the SJM Macau Derby at the Taipa racetrack on Saturday; giving trainer Joe Lau his third victory in the coveted race.
Exploding out the gates under jockey Peter Ho, Sacred Capital easily cleared the speed inside to be sitting outside the leader Trillion King as the field rushed out of the straight the first time. Ho ended up in the box seat third the rails for the rest of the run, before easing out three deep at the top of the straight; given full rein at the 250m the magnificent looking son of O’Reilly burst away from his rivals to win easily by two lengths from Éclair Lightning (Ruan Maia), with Big Alloy (Luis Corrales) running on well from the back for third.
The win gave master conditioner Joe Lau his third win in the Blue Riband event having won the race in 2015 with The Alfonso under Nash Rawiller, with Sacred Man and Zac Purton winning the race for him in 2017.
Sacred Capital’s run time of 1.47.0 for the 1800 metres on Saturday equalled the Derby race record of his stable mate The Alfonso. Sacred Capital – like The Alfonso and Sacred Man – is raced in partnership by Mr. Chen Ching Lung and Raffles Racings Supremo Dato K S Yap.
It was a much relived Joe Lau after the race, stating that Sacred Capital’s preparation for the race had not gone smoothly.
“You know for these races you map out your plan and mostly follow it through to the day, but this time we had a lot things come against us. He got a bad stone bruise and the abscess had to be drained and that set us back a few weeks. We missed the lead up races we were looking at, and I had to run him two weeks straight over 1200 and 1500 to get him fit enough for this race. That’s not something I generally do. And then as if we didn’t have enough pressure we drew the extreme outside gate in a field of 14 runners,” Lau said.
“Thankfully it’s all worked out well; a great ride by Peter (Ho), it’s been a great effort all round with my assistant Wil Heffernan and the stable team; a lot of good work from all of them and our farrier so this is a win for the team.
“He is just a real nice horse. He’s got everything you want; speed from the gates, he can take a sit and relax and wonderful turn of foot and handles any track.
When pressed for his future plans, Lau had this to say: “Well you know me, I never rush my horses; I let them tell me. Perhaps we’ll look at the Macau Gold Cup at the end of August then we’ll just see what’s coming up in the new season.”
Second placed Éclair Lightning is a very good racehorse and in any other season would have been hailed as a champion four year old, but as well as a frustrating run of bad luck in races like the Derby trial the Macau Guineas, he has had to be content in chasing Sacred Capital home both times they have met.
Joe Lau now joins Alan Tam as the two most successful trainers in the history of the Derby with three wins each. Tam won his first Derby with Royal Treasure under Frankie Dettori in 2002, then again the following year with Analyst ridden by Cedric Segeon, with the grand galloper Elderly Paradise giving him his third victory in 2012 under Olivier Doleuze.