Prebble and Kingdom part ways after defeat
The once unbreakable partnership between Brett Prebble and champion sprinter Sacred Kingdom was dramatically shattered following the Sprint Cup defeat, and trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai and owner Sin Kang-yuk will look for a change of rider as they pursue a record-equalling 18th win with their star galloper.
The Tony Cruz-trained front-runner Multiglory landed the Group Two prize, but all attention was on Prebble and the long-odds on the champ as he became strung up trying to squeeze between runners, before eventually hooking to the outside to run second, and narrowly miss equalling Silent Witness and Super Win as a winner of 18 races in Hong Kong.
It was the third consecutive second-placing for the former world champion sprinter, and Yiu was adamant a change of rider might now be the key to extracting that last win from his seven-year-old wonder.
'Sacred Kingdom cannot be this unlucky all the time with the same jockey, you know,' a disappointed Yiu said. 'He's run second to Dim Sum, second to the filly Sweet Sanette and second to Multiglory at his last few starts.
'The owner and I will discuss who will ride the horse, but I think Brett has just lost that spark that he used to have with Sacred Kingdom. It looks as though he is not as keen as he was when he first got on the horse.'
Prebble's dream run with Sacred Kingdom included two international Group One wins in 2009 - in the Kris Flyer Sprint in Singapore and the Hong Kong Sprint - as well as three domestic Group Ones, as part of his seven wins on the horse.
That record was a distant memory as they hit the line yesterday however, and Prebble realised at that moment that he had lost the ride forever.
'It was a crying shame, I thought they would go a lot quicker in the run, and Rich Unicorn cut me off early, and put me further back when he was hanging on the home turn,' Prebble said.
'I didn't want to go around him and get in a fight if Rich Unicorn kept hanging out, and the run was presenting itself at that stage, but Zac [Purton] kept his horse straight and Vital Flyer came out a bit.
'I just wanted that suck into the race to give him the last crack and make it easy on him, I didn't want to be sitting out in daylight for long time, as I would if we had come out to the middle.
'I didn't play the safe bet, but at the end of the day those split second decisions are what win you big races at times, and sometimes it doesn't work. I've tried as hard as I could to get him to win again, but it wasn't to be.'
Yiu is still considering a trip to Singapore and a rematch with local hero Rocket Man at Kranji next month, but will wait to see how Sacred Kingdom pulls up and will discuss the options with Sin before committing to any set plan.
Cruz revealed Multiglory is also a possible KrisFlyer Sprint contender and pulled off a major form reversal with his four-year-old coming back to the short course with the help of a brilliant Matthew Chadwick ride.
'In the owners minds, the Hong Kong Derby is the most prestigious race. He had a high enough rating to contest the Derby, but the Club didn't include him in the field and Lyraa Ng Yin-mui was very disappointed,' Cruz said.
'But we freshened him up, came back to his favourite trip and the race turned out exactly as planned. He likes firm tracks and I had Singapore on my mind for him, but it always rains there, and that slightly puts me off taking him.'