Kingdom takes all the right steps towards big day
Boom sprinter Sacred Kingdom took the first step towards his rich international target in December in a barrier trial at Sha Tin yesterday and emerged with a sound second to noted speed demon Adaikali.
With Olivier Doleuze sending Adaikali straight to the front in the 1,050 metres trial on the all-weather track, his French compatriot Gerald Mosse chose to let Sacred Kingdom follow under restraint but always within striking distance.
When it became obvious that Doleuze had been instructed to give Adaikali a hard trial, Mosse wisely chose to let the Sean Woods-trained galloper go and kept Sacred Kingdom at a more modest gallop to be beaten by four lengths.
Adaikali was credited with breaking the elusive 60 second barrier, 59.9 according to SCMP's clockers, which is amazing when you consider the average trials over the 1,050m course is 1:01.8 and even after taking into account the speed of the track on the morning, Adaikali's trial was still 1.5 seconds inside standard.
In fact, according to our records it's the fastest 1,050m trial in the last five seasons.
Adaikali's splits were also staggeringly fast - last 600m in 33.93 seconds, last 400m in 22.9 and the final 200m in 11.63.
Sacred Kingdom only lost two lengths to Adaikali over the final 600m, so his final 600m would have been 34.2 seconds and his final 400m 23.2 - which was excellent splits.
At the end of last season, after Sacred Kingdom (Danny Nikolic) had won in course record time over the 1,200m circuit at Sha Tin, trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fie said he hoped the Encosta de Lago gelding would measure up to the class of the Cathay Pacific International Races in December.
Smart sprinter Plezayre had a hard trial, working outside Adaikali, but weakened under riding as the two class horses maintained the pressure in the home stretch. Ultimately, he finished third but 81/2 lengths behind Adaikali.
The balance of the field of 10 came in like tired stragglers, with a spread of 22.5 lengths from first to last.
Able Prince, who inexplicably stood flat footed in the stalls and missed the start in the Chief Executive's Cup, was given a fairly quiet time of things by Manoel Nunes before finishing fourth, beaten 11 lengths.
However, the important point to the exercise was that he got away on terms, and after covering ground in the initial stages was dragged back to get some cover by Nunes.
The Andreas Schutz-trained Galbraith (Douglas Whyte) won the second trial in what would have looked to be smart time, had Adaikali not broken the clock 15 minutes earlier. Galbraith won by 31/2 lengths from Dream Horse (Felix Coetzee) and ran 1:01.1, the final 400m in 23.4 seconds.
Dream Horse, now with the Michael Chang Chun-wai yard, led and travelled comfortably but Galbraith, wearing sidewinkers, swallowed him quickly after turning for home and sailed away under gentle persuasion from Whyte to post the big margin.