Grafton Cup Winner Underlines the Tragedy of One Season Shuttler Azamour
Mark Smith - Thursday July 11

The Kiwi's love nothing more than to winter in Queensland and they are finding it profitable to extend the stay and make the trip south across the border for the Grafton Cup Carnival.

It was proved just that for champion trainer Tony Pike whose last start Doomben winner Sacred Day carried the Raffles Racing silks to victory in Thursday's Listed Grafton Cup (2350m)

Under a pearl of a ride by local hero Ben Looker, Sacred Day defeated Sopressa (So You Think) by a long-neck with Vaucluse Bay (Al Maher) a half-head back in third. The favourite, Caloundra Cup winner, Igraine (GER) (Galileo) seemed to be anchored under her top-weight of 59klgs but battled on gamely for fourth.

Pike gave credit to Michael Beatie, the CEO at Grafton, who contacted him at the Ready To Run Sale to bring a horse over for the cup.

"I've known Michael for a few years and he said, 'just get one coming through the grades', so this horse fitted the bill perfectly," Pike said.

"He was a bit unlucky in his first two starts over here and he was dominant under a big weight last start. We've always thought he was a progressive stayer and I think he will go on from here.

"In a true handicap he was probably ten kilos wrong in the weights but his runs in a couple of pretty good races in New Zealand have been very good and he was probably unlucky not to win the Karaka Sales Cup.

"He's a horse we have always held in high regard and has been a bit of a work in progress and it was a great ride by Ben, I'm Rapt for him."

The 4yo son of Azamour (IRE) advances his record to 4 wins, 3 seconds and 3 thirds from 16 starts with earnings of $159,646.

A $90,000 purchase by Raffles Racing out of the Brighthill Farm draft at the 2016 NZB Select Yearling Sale, Sacred Day (pictured as a yearling ) is the second winner from as many to race out of the unraced O'Reilly mare Top Of The Day who was purchased by Brighhill Farm for just $5,000 at the 2012 Inglis Australian Easter Broodmare Sale.

A daughter of the Listed STC Stayers' Cup winner and Group 1 ARC New Zealand Stakes third Full Noise (Kaapstad), Top Of The World died last year.

Her final foal is an unnamed 2yo filly Dalghar (FR) who was also purchased by Raffles Racing for $90,000 at the 2018 NZB Karaka - Book 2.

What a loss to the NZ breeding industry Azamour (photo Gilltown Stud ) is proving to be.

The winner of the St James's Palace Stakes and Irish Champion Stakes as a three-year-old and Prince Of Wales's Stakes and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes as a four-year-old, Azamour left just 51 live foal from his lone crop in New Zealand.

The Aga Khan-bred son of Night Shift shuttled for the first time to Brighthill Stud in 2013 and he died the following year at Gilltown Stud where he first stood on 2006.

From that crop of 51 foals have come the Group 1 MRC One Thousand Guineas winner Aloisia and the Group II ARC Championship Stakes winner Azaboy while his imported son Best Of Days (GB ) won last year's Group 1 Cantala Stakes and Double Bluff (IRE) added the Listed MVRC Moonee Valley Night Cup.

In the northern hemisphere Azamour has sired the Irish Oaks winner Covert Love and the French Oaks winner Valyra (GB ).

Sacred Day becomes his 41st stakes-winner.