Beaten brigade goes to Lion City right on song
Far from casting doubt on the credentials of Happy Zero and Green Birdie for the KrisFlyer Sprint in Singapore next month, the Sprint Cup upset by Ultra Fantasy on the weekend probably lent them some weight.
In a race where the tempo was a question mark, Ultra Fantasy was allowed to stroll through the first half of the event.
It was a scenario to when Sacred Kingdom had to pull out all the stops to get past him in the Centenary Sprint Cup in January and Ultra Fantasy has again shown he can run a very slick 400 metres if the tactics of the race reduce the contest to that distance, as it was last Saturday.
The affect of tempo and riding tactics has been tough to ignore in the past couple of weeks since Collection's QE II Cup run and probably what cost Happy Zero victory last Saturday was not the race tempo itself but the decision by connections of Amigo to anticipate the tempo and press forward early. It was a decision that didn't work out, resulting in Amigo overracing in the slow pace, but not an unwise tactical decision before the race.
Yet that meant he occupied the spot - one horse closer to the lead - which Zac Purton would probably have taken on Happy Zero had Amigo not pressed on to be there. From that closer position, Happy Zero would have beaten Ultra Fantasy, even with the tempo as slow as it was.
In a stronger tempo, One World most likely would have beaten them all. One wonders whether John Moore might wish he had One World going to Singapore, too, but they aren't cars and One World had his foreign tilt in Dubai.
The bottom line for Happy Zero, and Green Birdie, who also wasn't helped by the tempo, is they go to Singapore right on song and have nothing to fear from most of the runners they will meet - but they will face a year-older, tougher version of Rocket Man, who stretched Sacred Kingdom all the way in 2009. That's the stumbling block.