Sacred Kingdom turned the tables on familiar foe Absolute Champion and reaffirmed his status as one of Hong Kong’s best sprinters with a 1 1/2-length victory in the $576,900 Chairman’s Sprint Prize on Sunday at Sha Tin Racecourse.
The Southern Hemisphere four-year-old Encosta de Lago gelding rebounded from a runner-up finish to Absolute Champion on January 27 at Sha Tin in the Centenary Sprint Cup.
"He's back to his best,” winning trainer Ricky Yiu said of the 2007 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint (HK-G1) winner. “It was disappointing he lost last time. There was a delay at the start, and he became agitated in the gates and missed the kick. [Regular rider] Gerald [Mosse] said the slightly slower track that day also worked against him."
Sacred Kingdom seized command with about one furlong remaining in the 1,200-meter (5.97-furlong) Chairman’s Sprint Prize and powered clear under Mosse to prevail in 1:08.60 on turf rated as good.
Sacred Kingdom’s victory set up a showdown with Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile (HK-G1) winner Good Ba Ba in the 1,400-meter (6.95-furlong) Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup on March 16 at Sha Tin.
"I'm not worried about 1,400 meters for him,” Yiu said. “I would just want him to draw a good gate because he settles well when he has cover. Good Ba Ba is a great horse but, dropping back in distance, I'm not sure if he will have the same kick as Sacred Kingdom. It will be an exciting race."
Owned by Sin Kang Yuk, Sacred Kingdom improved to nine wins in 11 starts.
Bred in Australia by Mrs. N. F. Calvert and the Estate of the late A. M. Calvert, Sacred Kingdom is out of the winning Zeditave mare Courtroom Sweetie.
The Big G