Sacred Kingdom back off the ropes
Sacred Kingdom was the world's top-rated sprinter for the previous two years, though he achieved it within the scope of a single season (2007-08). This year, however, the Australian-bred gelding gets extra recognition for getting up off the canvas and coming back to win at international level after suffering a significant leg injury last summer.
Theoretically, a hairline fracture of the sesamoid bone is one of the better injuries for a horse because, as long as the fracture never gets worse than a hairline, does not become a displaced fracture, and no localised soft tissue has been damaged, then the horse should return as good as new.
The key word is theoretically. In reality, whether the issue is more physical or mental doesn't really matter, an injured horse can never be said to have been fully rehabilitated unless he can recapture his former glory.
After the layoff, which caused him to miss a visit to Japan and the chance to defend his Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint crown in December, it took Sacred Kingdom three races to regain his fitness and his renowned killer instinct.
He broke through with a fighting, but narrow, win from a non-Group horse in Regency Dragon in the Sprint Cup on May 1, and in fourth place behind him was this season's dual Group One winning sprinter, Inspiration.
Sacred Kingdom then went up to another level in Singapore, toppling unbeaten local star Rocket Man in what was labelled 'the best sprint in the world this year' by International Racing Bureau boss Adrian Beaumont.
Inspiration, who had won the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint in Sacred Kingdom's absence, was again unplaced.
Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, Sacred Kingdom simply didn't run to his form in England on June 20 in Royal Ascot's Golden Jubilee Stakes. Victory might have seen him elevated to serious Horse of the Year consideration while defeat seems to have rendered him the outsider of the 'big three'.
Owner Sin Kang-yuk
Trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai
Record 12 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third
Prize money HK$24,915,344
This season HK$5,657,444
Major wins KrisFlyer International Sprint (Singapore) (Gr 1), Sprint Cup (Gr 2)