Sacred Kingdom's future in doubt
Ricky Yiu Poon-fai confirmed this will be Sacred Kingdom's final season and will carefully consider retirement as an option for the champion sprinter after a career-worst effort in the Hong Kong Sprint.
The eight-year-old, who won the Group One Sprint in 2007 and 2009, looked a shadow of his former dominant self, finishing 10th, 43/4 lengths behind impressive youngster Lucky Nine. Jumping from barrier 14, Sacred Kingdom was slow away and didn't make an impact.
Yiu will monitor the gelding's condition in the next few days and consult with owner Sin Kang-yuk before making a decision on the four-time sprinter of the year's immediate future.
'I'll look at him in the next two days and talk to the owner. But this will definitely be his last season,' Yiu said.
The trainer said the run was 'OK', but admitted his horse had lost his 'dash'. 'The draw killed him,' Yiu said. 'I would have expected him a little closer in the run.'
Jockey Zac Purton added: 'Just too hard for him from that gate, when he quickened he just didn't go through with it like he used to at his best.'
Sacred Kingdom is chasing racing history, requiring just one more victory to pass the Hong Kong record of 17 by Silent Witness. Although 18 wins is a tempting target, Yiu said the horse's welfare remained paramount.
'If anything goes wrong with him he'll stop,' he said.
Yesterday's race was Sacred Kingdom's 33rd in a stellar career in which he has collected more than HK$45 million in prize money, although he has not won since January this year.