Kingdom heads a strong Sprint Cup list

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2008, 12:00am

The Jockey Club will host a virtual replay of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint on Sunday week when Sacred Kingdom, Absolute Champion and Royal Delight do battle once again in the HK$4.5 million Centenary Sprint Cup.

This Group One race over 1,000 metres down the Sha Tin straight will be the opening leg of the sprinters' triple crown and sees the much-awaited return of Sacred Kingdom, the world's top-rated turf sprinter.

In the wake of a spectacular, unbeaten sequence of three since turning four, Encosta de Lago's son Sacred Kingdom has become the latest big thing, with his record now reading eight wins from nine attempts.

His international rating has been raised to 123 - bringing him on par with the great Silent Witness - while a domestic rating of 130 has seen him elevated above Viva Pataca (129) and Vengeance Of Rain (128) as the best horses in town.

Absolute Champion was runner-up in this race last year to Scintillation and has been kept nice and fresh for his return to 1,000m by trainer David Hall.

However, it's notable that Scintillation is missing from the race, having performed poorly at his last outing behind Able Prince in the Bauhinia Sprint Trophy.

Able Prince will be back, aiming for his third feature success down the tricky straight track, a course where he also ran Silent Witness to a length when second in the 2004 International Sprint Trial.

Caspar Fownes will need to find a new rider for Hong Kong Sprint third placegetter Royal Delight, with the gelding's regular partner, Shane Dye, suspended until the end of March.

Royal Delight led the feature sprint field and kept on bravely for his minor placing on December 9, even after Sacred Kingdom had arrogantly whistled straight by him at the 200m.

A surprise entry was received from Dennis Yip Chor-hong for Down Town, the versatile Australian-bred gelding who won the Sha Tin Trophy at 1,600m in October and last time out finished a brave second to Pocket Money in the Chinese Club Challenge Cup (Group 3, 1,400m) on New Year's Day.

Down Town, who boasts a domestic rating of 123, is also entered for Sunday's Group One Citi Stewards' Cup over the metric mile against the company of Good Ba Ba and Viva Pataca.

The list: Sacred Kingdom, a rating of 130 (Ricky Yiu); Absolute Champion 126 (David Hall); Down Town 123 (Dennis Yip); Royal Delight 120 (Caspar Fownes); Egyptian Ra 117 (David Hall); Able Prince 113 (John Moore); Planet Ruler 108 (Almond Lee); Regency Horse 108 (David Ferraris); Natural Blitz 102 (Derek Cruz); Country Music 99 (Tony Cruz).