City's Prawn star

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 December, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 December, 2003, 12:00am

While unbeaten Hong Kong Sprint winner Silent Witness is undoubtedly Hong Kong's horse of the moment, he still has a bit of work ahead of him before he can topple Fairy King Prawn as the greatest Hong Kong horse of modern times.

Fairy King Prawn (pictured) won the Hong Kong Sprint in 1999 when trained by Ricky Yiu Poon-fie and later finished second, to the freakish New Zealand mare Sunline, in the Hong Kong Mile (when trained by Ivan Allan).

It was Allan who took the Danehill gelding overseas to represent Hong Kong, bringing home the spoils of victory from the Group One Yasuda Kinen (1,600m) in Tokyo on June, 2000.

It was an unprecedented day of pride for Hong Kong and remains our only international Group One success away from Sha Tin.

The Sunline-Fairy King Prawn encounter in the 2000 HK Mile is one of the most fabled battles of the turf, and is warmly remembered in both hemispheres as an event that, in effect, defined world-class thoroughbred racing.

The Jockey Club's executive director of racing, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, still talks of his 'unforgettable memories' of that race, when front-running Sunline broke all other rivals with her sustained top-level speed, but then had to call on all her reserves of courage to hold out the astonishing finishing burst of The Prawn.

'The crowd in the grandstands started to roar with excitement, and as the horse [Fairy King Prawn] surged down the outside, the roar swelled into the sort of thunder you hear when the Concorde is taking off,' Engelbrecht-Bresges recalled.

'Never have I experienced such an astonishing display of emotion on any racecourse.'

This year, Allan called it quits for the injured Fairy King Prawn. He and stablemate Indigenous, winner of a Hong Kong Vase and runner-up in a Japan Cup under Douglas Whyte - were both given special send-offs by the Jockey Club in recognition of the star status locally and the international successes.