Sacred Kingdom will make the rest of the world wait
Ricky Yiu Poon-fie has nominated the Sprinters' Stakes in Japan as the potential first international target for Sacred Kingdom after the champion ruthlessly reasserted his right to be the world's number one sprinter at Sha Tin yesterday.
Sacred Kingdom, starting a prohibitive favourite at odds of 1-5, was back to his swashbuckling best in the Group One Chairman's Sprint Prize, clearly outpointing arch-rival Absolute Champion and taking their personal scoreline to 3-1 in Sacred Kingdom's favour.
The handicappers of the world have already voted Sacred Kingdom to be the best sprinter on the planet for 2007, on an international rating of 123, and the Encosta de Lago gelding is strongly staking his claim for the title again in 2008. Naturally, when a horse is being graded in world terms, the rest of the world wants to know when they'll see him. And Yiu's simple answer is 'not this season'.
'Our next run will be in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup when we will tackle 1,400 metres for the first time,' Yiu said. 'But beyond that, there are no plans. Once these [sprinters' triple crown] races are over, I will sit down and talk to the owner and make a decision on a possible overseas campaign. The Sprinters' Stakes would be the race most likely to be his first overseas trip.'
Sprinters' Stakes, run over 1,200m at Nakayama racecourse, will be the sixth leg of the Global Sprint Challenge and will be staged on October 5. Total prize money is 202 million yen (US$1.76 million).
The HK$4.5 million Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup will see Sacred Kingdom face a fresh challenge, with the Group One race at 1,400 metres also the next target for champion miler Good Ba Ba. 'I think it is going to be a great race,' Yiu said. 'Our horse must go up in distance by 200 metres, while Good Ba Ba must come back in distance 200 metres.'
Absolute Champion, who lowered the boom on Sacred Kingdom in the Centenary Sprint Cup, again ran second, this time 11/2 lengths adrift.
While the chance to emulate Silent Witness and win the sprinters' treble has now gone, trainer David Hall said the Absolute Champion team was looking forward to being the third big name horse in the Queen's Silver Jubilee.
'When Sacred Kingdom beat us in December, the margin was 21/4 lengths. Today, it was only 11/2 lengths, we're getting closer,' Hall said. 'We won't be running away from the challenge. We know 1,400 metres will suit our horse.'
It's as easy as...
The world's number-one sprinter Sacred Kingdom has this international rating: 123