Windsor Park Stud shuttler Mastercraftsman (IRE), has been on a winning roll in New Zealand in recent weeks, adding another new group-winner to his tally on Saturday.
The speed of Sacred Master’s progress through the grades brought with it a worry for Tony Pike, but he is now happy to let the stayer take his chance at Group One level.
The four-year-old broke his maiden on the first day of the current season and in eight subsequent starts he has added a further five wins, the latest in Saturday’s Group II Go Racing Syndications Avondale Cup.
Sacred Master’s triumph at Ellerslie also propelled him to the head of betting for the Gr.1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup at $5.
"There was a concern that it may be coming too quickly and it was an acid test today to see if we press on to the cup,” Pike said.
Sacred Master passed his final examination with flying colours and he will now defend the stable’s title at Ellerslie after their success with Rock Diva, who also sported the Raffles Racing colours, 12 months ago.
"As long as he pulls up well and does everything right then we’ll be come back for the Auckland Cup,” Pike said.
Sacred Master was in a dominant mood on Saturday with his effort matching the determined approach of his rider Michael McNab, who wasted hard to make the book weight.
"I’m really pleased for Michael and for him to get down to 52kg it was a great reward,” Pike said.
Sacred Master settled in midfield and the gelding came with a well-timed finish under McNab to beat King Kamada, who also ran second last year behind Farm Boy with the defending champion a fast-finishing third this time around.
"It was a patient ride by Michael and he let him go to sleep and then came into the race at the right time,” Pike said.
The 29th stakes-winner for Mastercraftsman, Sacred Master is from minor winner Trickle, a full sister to Group I winner Eileen Dubh.