Group 1 winner Sacred Elixir returned to New Zealand from his former Hong Kong base on Wednesday morning and a scan has revealed positive signs that the injured son of Pour Moi will make a raceday return in his homeland.
Formerly trained in New Zealand by Cambridge conditioner Tony Pike, Sacred Elixir won three Group races for owners Raffles Racing, including the Group 1 JJ Atkins Stakes (1600m), and finished runner-up to Prized Icon in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) before joining Tony Cruz’s Hong Kong barn in 2017.
He was ridden in all three of his Hong Kong starts by Hong Kong champion jockey Zac Purton, however, a mishap in his third race spelt the end of his career in the Asian racing jurisdiction. “He injured his right-fore suspensory in his third start and rehabilitation up there was unsuccessful, so they have sent him home,” Raffles Racing Manager Bruce Sherwin said.
While his rehabilitation in Hong Kong failed to show any improvement, a scan conducted at Raffles Farm’s Cambridge property on Thursday revealed positive signs for the talented galloper. “Sacred Elixir was inspected by our vet Dave Keenan this (Thursday) morning and he scanned the off-fore suspensory,” Sherwin said. “The prognosis is better than fifty-fifty (of getting back to the races) on what we are seeing at the moment. There has been improvement in the ligament damage from the reports we saw out of Hong Kong. “It’s going to be a long road back but there is some positivity coming out of what we have seen this morning. “He’s a lightly raced horse. He has only had 15 starts, so we can be patient in the rehabilitation, but from what we are seeing he is a chance (of returning to the track).”
If successful in his rehabilitation, Sherwin said they are hopeful of getting Sacred Elixir back to the races next year. “He is one of the best horses we have had anything to do with. He’s got phenomenal ability, so it would be lovely if we can get him back, even if we got him back 90 percent he would still have something to give to racing,” he said. “He will have another two to three month spell in restrictions on what he can do, so he will be in a smaller paddock to start with. We will have another scan in two to three months and then put him on a pre-training program. “He will commence walking in about a month’s time and just slowly build things back up and see how we go. “On a perfect recovery and rehabilitation he will return (to the races) possibly next autumn.”
While hopeful of a return, Sherwin is keeping his expectations in-check after previous disappointments. “With our experience in the past, some of these horses you can get them back to the races, it’s just whether they still want to be racehorses,” he said. “He looks in tremendous order, he came back from Hong Kong in great condition. From what we are seeing, he is a chance, so fingers crossed at this stage.”
Bred by Graham de Gruchy, Sacred Elixir was purchased by Raffles Farm and Mulcaster Bloodstock for $170,000 out of Wentwood Grange’s 2015 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale draft, and Sherwin said he was a standout physical type from day one. “He was an exceptional physical type. He was a lovely horse and just looking at him in his paddock this morning he has retained those physical attributes in terms of an ideal athletic type. “He had a terrific dam side. Pour Moir was a relative unknown, but we have always been prepared to take a punt on a horse that looks like an athlete.”