Laurie Laxon’s multiple Group-winning mare was first represented by daughter Mexican Gal at Kranji in 2014. Though the daughter of Encosta De Lago was not quite a chip off the old block, she did perform creditably for the same connections – Jupiter Stable and trained by Laxon – with four wins and four placings from only 16 starts.
Whether Sacred Sham can scale to the same heights or soar even higher remains to be seen, but that first Singapore win in the $70,000 Class 3 Division 2 race (1200m) at his third local start was indicative of some ability.
It was to trainer Mark Walker and Raffles Racing Stable’s owner Dato Yap Kim San, first and foremost, a relief he had carved out a first notch on his scoresheet.
A former three-time winner (1000m to 1100m) for Caulfield trainer Danny O’Brien, Sacred Sham didn’t get off to the most auspicious starts at his new home. He bled before his first race and was put on the sidelines for a while.
The ability was thankfully uncompromised as evidenced by his first two runs in Class 3 company in the last two months – a debut fourth in April and a fast-finishing second last month when ridden by senior jockey Benny Woodworth on both occasions.
Ridden this time by Walker’s apprentice jockey Riduan Abu Bakar, Sacred Sham ($19) somehow found himself at the head of affairs with It’s Got It All (Tengku Rehaizat) keeping him company on the outside.
The swoopers did make their presence felt halfway up the straight, but they had their work cut out when Sacred Sham’s four-kilo-claiming apprentice jockey allowed him to let rip.
Yabadabadoo (Vlad Duric) snuck up on the inside, Despacito (Ben Thompson) sprouted wings on the outside, but Sacred Sham kept attacking the line to score by three parts of a length from Yabadabadoo with Despacito third another half-length away. The winning time was 1min 10.34secs for the 1200m on the Polytrack.
Walker said it was not by design that Sacred Sham landed at the top of the queue, but with nobody seemingly keen to take up the role, it played into their hands in the end.
“I thought there would be more speed to the race, but he ended up getting a soft lead,” said the current leading trainer.
“I just told Nik (Riduan) to settle him where he is comfortable, but he led and just kept going. The four-kilo claim probably helped him, too.
“He’s a horse who had a few issues when he came to us. He bled before his first start and we’ve got to manage him carefully.
“Well done to Dato Yap and his racing manager Bruce Sherwin.”
A stakes winner of over A$125,000 back in Australia, Sacred Sham has seen his local bank swell past the $55,000 mark for the Raffles Racing Stable with that first Kranji success.
Riduan, who has taken Kranji by storm since his debut in April, has, however, seen his meteoric rise take a stumble when he incurred a three-month suspension for not riding Venus De Milo to the satisfaction of the Stewards last Friday.
Beginning the ban after Sunday’s meeting, the Kelantan-born and New Zealand-trained rider would certainly take some comfort in that 10th win before the long holiday.
“I was looking for a leader, but no-one wanted to go forward,” said Riduan.
“When I got to the front, I took advantage of that and tried to control the race from there. In the home straight, he just kept going.”