Weight or no weight, ageing Kingdom is the one to beat
Sacred Kingdom may not be the force he once was, but he is still going to take the power of beating in the Group Three Bauhinia Sprint Trophy (1,000m) at Sha Tin this afternoon.
The former world champion sprinter has not found the line in his old style at 1,200m this term, but he is two from two down the straight 1,000m, taking him to a lifetime form line at the course and distance of eight wins and a second from 10 attempts.
His beaten runs have still included a close third in the Hong Kong Sprint to the two Dubai heroes, J J The Jet Plane and Rocket Man and his latest second to Dim Sum in the Chairman's Sprint, so he is hardly out of form, but he seems to be preferring 1,000m these days. The million dollar question is whether a change of yards has added anything to very smart mare Sweet Sanette (Greg Cheyne) after she moved in February from Gary Ng Ting-keung to Tony Millard, who has been hotter than a pepperoni pizza.
Sacred Kingdom has the beating of her on their opening meeting this term under similar handicap conditions, when Sacred Kingdom (Brett Prebble) gave the mare 18 pounds and a lesson back in October.
The pair met again over 1,000m in the Centenary Sprint Cup in January, this time at level weights that favoured Sacred Kingdom, who had to give her only four pounds that day and beat her the same margin at the finish - one-and-a-quarter lengths.
By some readings of that result, Sweet Sanette was still improving if we're prepared to leave out her 1,200m runs and settle only on the races at her preferred 1,000m trip.
Now she is meeting Sacred Kingdom 12 pounds better and had a change of yards, compelling arguments to say she will give Yiu's sprinter a race at the very least.
But the same argument makes Vital Flyer just as hard to beat and he came off that race for a disappointing effort at Happy Valley in a Class One handicap and those set-weights races don't always translate back into handicaps.
Romantic City and Sweet Sanette are probably the quickest horses in Hong Kong, so, with plenty of speed in the race, Sacred Kingdom will have things just the way he likes them - sitting back off the pace, trucking into it at 300m and finishing off strongly, weight or no weight.
Number of times Sacred Kingdom has won down the Sha Tin straight: 8