Packing Winner puts his name in lights
Sacred Kingdom and Packing Winner were touted as worthy international contenders in the wake of their National Day victories at Sha Tin on Monday, and a dispassionate analysis of their respective performances leads to the conclusion those lofty prizes are well within reach.
Sacred Kingdom charged up the straight with impressive authority in the Sha Tin Sprint Trophy (Group 3) and, according to our speed ratings, went the equivalent of an international 116 rating in scoring on the bridle by 11/2 lengths.
Packing Winner was even more revealing, albeit in a lower grade. The five-year-old son of super sire Zabeel hacked up by 33/4 lengths in Class Two, simultaneously walking away with the course record established by Class One performers Russian Pearl and Hello Pretty in their respective Ladies Purse victories (2004, 2006).
Packing Winner, shouldering 125 pounds, absolutely loved the fast pace set by another Zabeel gelding in Socrates. Once in the straight, he quickened straight past Socrates and put a gap on his rivals, with Douglas Whyte letting him out for the very first time just to see what he can do.
Packing Winner's winning time was 0.9 seconds faster than standard, after factoring out the speed of the track on the day. And whenever a horse goes close to one second faster than standard in any class, he's semaphoring his latent Group One class in neon lights.
Trainer Peter Ho Leung now has a quality, middle-distance galloper on his hands. Packing Winner can lead or be ridden from behind, and his dual-purpose pedigree - by Zabeel out of a daughter of successful speed sire Marscay - is reflected in his versatility over a growing range of distances.
Although Packing Winner is yet to be tried at 2,000 metres, what trainer of any Zabeel - the most potent stamina influence in the southern hemisphere - would be afraid to take that distance on?
Packing Winner's speed figure was flash too, a 114 rating, with the race going five rating points, or 2.5 lengths, above average.
Being able to achieve this kind of rating in Class Two leads to the near inevitable conclusion that he could go 119 in Class One or Premier grade, and that sort of figure would make Packing Winner competitive in just about anything.
Back to Sacred Kingdom: Third-placed veteran Planet Ruler and former Hong Kong Sprint hero Natural Blitz give us perfect form lines to confirm Sacred Kingdom's claims to bigger and richer trophies.
By our reckoning, the late-closing Planet Ruler ran to his mark, the equivalent of an international 114 rating. So Sacred Kingdom's 116+ looks genuine.
The Encosta de Lago gelding is a speed demon, and it was stunning to see Gerald Mosse holding on to a lapful of horse well before the halfway mark in this sprint. How disheartening for his rivals to hear that Mosse 'let him go to get him to relax' and he dispatched the two speedy leaders, Natural Blitz and Adaikali, in a heartbeat.
The exciting thing about Sacred Kingdom is that with the exception of his fourth to Medic Power, he's never taken a step backwards. Each win has been better than the preceding one, and the four-year-old has now turned out at a fresh level.
About the only ones who wouldn't be scared of him might be the connections of Medic Power. For those associated with every other sprinter in town, the performance would have been terrifying.
World at his feet
Packing Winner's speed figure rating in Class Two augurs well for his future: 114