Yiu expects big return run from Sacred Kingdom
Sacred Kingdom has not won first up for three years, but trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai is expecting the world champion sprinter to produce something close to his best in the Sha Tin Sprint Trophy tomorrow at his comeback run after a life-threatening colic attack.
Only a happy accident of timing enabled the seven-year-old to survive the colic, which struck as he prepared to board a flight to Japan in March and would likely have killed him had he already been on the plane to Nagoya. But Yiu is thrilled with Sacred Kingdom's well-being and indicated he would be disappointed to miss the quinella tomorrow.
'The only one I'm really worried about is the filly, Sweet Sanette. She is very good and she has a light weight, but I expect Sacred Kingdom to be first or second, even though he has the big weight and he hasn't raced since March,' Yiu said yesterday.
'He looks very healthy on the track in the mornings, his trial was very good and I think he will come back to the same form he was in at his peak. He had a very good rest and we took our time, but he is back to his normal training now.'
Of more concern were the foot issues which have been on and off for some time, but Yiu said a pad between the horse's hoof and his shoe had kept him comfortable while the problem was managed.
Sacred Kingdom's last win first time out in a campaign came in the same race in 2007, on his way to claiming the title of the world's best later that year.
His fresh defeats since were fourth to John Moore-trained Inspiration after nine months out with a hairline fracture to a sesamoid bone in February last year, and then when Moore's Happy Zero produced something special to beat him last year in the International Sprint Trial. But Moore is not looking to play giant-killer tomorrow, explaining he is far from bullish about his chances with One World and Dim Sum.
'One World's trial was poor, I haven't been happy with his work - I think he's jaded after travelling to Dubai last season,' he said. 'Sacred Kingdom looks the winner to me.'
However, Moore is not ruling out upsetting the apple cart for the champion later in the campaign, when Happy Zero resumes in the renamed Sprint Trial - now called the Jockey Club Sprint - in November.
Happy Zero hasn't been out since his dismal flop at Royal Ascot, the worst run of his career, after which he was found to have a back problem.
'He arrived back from England a few days ago and has had a little travel sickness, which we've treated and he'll be over it quickly,' Moore said. 'But, in general, he's in great shape. He had a good spell in the UK and has done very well there as you'd expect in that beautiful countryside.'