All systems go for Kingdom's Ascot mission

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 June, 2009, 12:00am

Sacred Kingdom will leave for England on Sunday in a bold bid to cement his reputation as the greatest sprinter in the world at Royal Ascot on June 20.

Sacred Kingdom, a brilliant last-start winner of the KrisFlyer Sprint in Singapore on May 17, will represent Hong Kong in the highlight of the Queen's annual celebration of racing excellence - the Golden Jubilee Stakes of six furlongs (about 1,200m).

Owner Sin Kang-yuk confirmed the trip with Jockey Club international racing manager Mark Player on Monday night.

'Mr Sin is very excited, he's already invited quite a large number of visitors to watch Sacred Kingdom and he's also assured chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges that he'll be there,' Player said. 'Barring anything unforeseen, Sacred Kingdom will be racing at Royal Ascot.'

The only detail that wasn't quite perfect is that Sacred Kingdom could not be flown direct to London.

'He'll fly from Hong Kong to Paris on Sunday and then take a road ferry across the English Channel,' Player said. 'It's not a difficult trip, as Alexandros showed - he went home the same way from here after the Champions Mile and ran second in the [Group One] Lockinge Stakes two weeks later.

'He [Sacred Kingdom] will be bedded down in his stable on the same day as he leaves Hong Kong.'

While Australia's visitors to Royal Ascot, Takeover Target and Scenic Blast, will be staying at Newmarket, Sacred Kingdom will be stabled several hours away on the opposite side of London.

'With the help of Adrian Beaumont and the International Racing Bureau, we've arranged for Sacred Kingdom to be stabled at Manton, just outside Marlborough in Wiltshire,' Player said.

Manton was formerly the private training property of the late Robert Sangster. It was where Peter Chapple-Hyam trained his classic winners, Rodrigo De Triano and Dr Devious, prior to moving to Hong Kong in the late 1990s.

These days the man at Manton is Brian Meehan, and his big-race accomplishments from this famous training ground include a Breeders' Cup Turf with Red Rocks and a Dubai Duty Free with David Junior.

Sacred Kingdom has been in quarantine since returning from Singapore and looked in superb order as he completed a smart training gallop on the all-weather track yesterday.

The powerful bay went 1,000 metres in 1:04.1, the last 600 metres in 35.1 seconds, the last 400 metres in 22.8 and the final 200m in 11.56, despite being eased in the final 30 metres.

British and Irish bookmakers are well prepared for the Hong Kong flyer, who was the top-rated sprinter in the world in 2007 and 2008.

OLBG Sports, which surveys all bookmakers offering betting on the Golden Jubilee, says Sacred Kingdom is second favourite for the Group One sprint at $6.50, with South African speed machine J J The Jet Plane favourite at $6 (backed in from $10).

Early odds

The best price for Sacred Kingdom with English bookies is: 6.50