For a family syndicate formed for a bit of fun, Raffles Racing has enjoyed a considerable degree of Group One success.
Its first purchase as a yearling was Shamrocker, who in 2011 became the first filly to complete the Australian Guineas-Australian Derby double.
The syndicate goes into its first $1.5 million Victoria Derby with the favourite, Sacred Elixir.
The family has been pretty lucky since setting up Raffles Racing in 2010, racing manager Kyan Yap says.
“We’re pretty blessed in terms of being able to win some good races and also having horses like Sacred Falls who became a stallion and being involved with Press Statement who became a stallion as well.”
Yap’s father, Malaysian businessman Dato Yap, bought the Raffles Farm in New Zealand in 2008.
They continue to sell the horses they breed on the farm, initially set up in the 1990s by the brother of Singapore’s founding leader Lee Kuan Yew, while buying horses separately to race.
“This racing arm is my dad, me and the family,” Yap told AAP.
“We all got together to form a syndicate for a bit of fun.
“We have so far won about 18 Group Ones around the world. I think that’s not too bad.”
The syndicate has about 40 racehorses, and owns between 100 and 120 mares and yearlings.
Having their own farm in New Zealand has proven to be a good formula.
The horses who show potential usually start racing in New Zealand before branching out to run under the Raffles colours in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Macau, Japan and the UK.
Raffles bought Sacred Elixir as a yearling for $170,000, with his staying pedigree always putting him in line for a Derby.
The New Zealand three-year-old is by Epsom Derby winner Pour Moi and his great grandmother is Japan Cup winner Horlicks, mother of Melbourne Cup winner Brew.
“From day one we thought he’s going to be a derby horse,” Yap said.
“So I think it has vindicated our belief in him that he is racing in the Derby on Saturday.
“The family pedigree shows that he can stay. Being a New Zealand horse, they also have a very good success rate at winning the Derby over here.”
Yap said Sacred Elixir – winner of the Group One J J Atkins Stakes in Brisbane as a two-year-old – goes into the Derby in very good form after taking out the LUCRF Vase at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Taking the ride on the Tony Pike-trained Sacred Elixir on Saturday will be Hong Kong-based Australian jockey Zac Purton who rode him in the Atkins and steered Raffles’ Sacred Falls to his second consecutive Doncaster Mile win in 2014.
Yap rates Sacred Elixir as one of the best horses Raffles has racing at the moment.
“We believe that he is going to just get better as he grows older.
“We have high hopes for him, but he has to prove himself on Saturday first.”