Kingdom has edge on fast-rising Hustler
A hat-trick of Group Ones in Australia by boom three-year-old Weekend Hustler was insufficient to remove Sacred Kingdom from his mantle as the globe's number one sprinter on the latest list of the World's Top Racehorses.
The list, released by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, shows Sacred Kingdom having maintained his lofty 123 rating - making him the theoretical equivalent of the great Silent Witness - while Weekend Hustler has zoomed up the rankings to be just one pound below him on 122.
Weekend Hustler, a son of the Mr Prospector stallion Hussonet, has won the Oakleigh Plate (1,100m), the Newmarket Handicap (1,200m) and the Randwick Guineas (1,600m), all at Group One level over the past two months. But while he must bow to Sacred Kingdom in the sprinting department, his performances make him the world's best three-year-old at the present time.
Sacred Kingdom has raced three times since being elevated to world champion status in the wake of his swashbuckling victory in the HK$12 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint on December 9.
He won the Group One Chairman's Sprint Prize (1,200m) in the same cavalier fashion as the December showpiece, but was also unlucky in finishing second to Absolute Champion in the Centenary Sprint Cup (1,000m), and to Good Ba Ba in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (both Gr 1).
The latter effort has had an untidy sequel, with jockey Gerald Mosse having been unceremoniously dumped as the champion's rider, despite having handled him six times for four wins and two seconds and having done nothing wrong on the two occasions Sacred Kingdom was beaten.
Howard Cheng Yue-tin will be the Encosta de Lago gelding's new rider in the Group Two Gome Cup (1,200m) at Sha Tin on May 1.
Viva Pataca's brave second to Sun Classique in the Dubai Sheema Classic (Gr 1) was sufficient to justify his 122-rating, and he remains one of the world's top-ranked staying horses. Good Ba Ba's two victories this year - the Group One Stewards' Cup over the metric mile and his toppling of Sacred Kingdom in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup - did not rate any better with the handicappers than his Hong Kong Mile performance, so they left his assessment unchanged at 119.
With the retirement of Vengeance Of Rain, these were the only three Hong Kong-trained horses ranked in the world's top 50 to March 31.
Armada had only raced once for the new season when the assessments were issued, failing in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup.
Sun Classique's victory in Dubai sees the Australian-bred four-year-old filly rated 120, a high assessment when you add the four-pound allowance for females to get the full merit of the rating.