Ricky Yiu Poon-Fai

Enthused to join Sacred Kingdom in Tokyo assault

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 September, 2009, 12:00am

Hong Kong's impact on the HK$16.8 million Sprinters Stakes has been strengthened with trainer John Size confirming Enthused will join Sacred Kingdom in the October 4 Group One event in Tokyo.

The penultimate leg of the Global Sprint Series sees the world's joint-rated top sprinters, Sacred Kingdom and Scenic Blast, square up and Enthused will strengthen the Hong Kong challenge, despite not having run since an out-of-character second-last in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Stakes at his most recent run last March.

'It was the only time he's been out of the first five in 20 runs here so it wasn't his usual form and I think he was just tired,' said Size (pictured) yesterday in confirming the Nakayama trip. 'We have found nothing else. He's had a decent spell since that run and it would have been nice to race him before Japan to be sure and to know he's firing but we don't have that option.'

Size said he would look for further guides in Enthused's trackwork and a barrier trial before he makes the trip, but said 'at this stage, we're making plans to go and Douglas Whyte will ride him'.

Enthused has a two-to-one advantage over Sacred Kingdom in head-to-head meetings, beating him home in both the Centenary Sprint Cup and Chairman's Sprint Prize last season before finishing behind Ricky Yiu Poon-fai's star in the Queen's Silver Jubilee.

Despite the gelding's lack of recent racing, Size is taking some encouragement from his prior fresh form. 'He won the Chief Executive's Cup first-up last season, though admittedly off a much shorter break, but he has raced well fresh,' he said. The Jockey Club had some good news for simulcast punters on the Sprinters Stakes yesterday with the announcement that bracketing of runners is over.

Previously, the club's software could only accept bets on 14 separate numbers per race, meaning that, in bigger fields on overseas events, some runners had to be bracketed.

'We have done a lot of work on this with a view to our increased simulcast opportunities this season approved during the summer,' chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

'The Sprinters Stakes will be the first time that we can offer our customers betting on each runner as an individual. When we come to a race like the Melbourne Cup in November, all 24 horses will now be available separately, where before our punters had two or even three horses running as one number,' he said.

'That will offer better value in win bets, but might also allow us to open those races now to more exotic bets, like the tierce, without the confusion caused if multiple runners from the same number bracket were placed.'

Old enemies

In three previous races against Sacred Kingdom, Enthused has finished ahead of his rival in: 2