Super horse Sacred Kingdom retired
One of the world's best and most durable champions over the past five years, dual Hong Kong Sprint-winning Sacred Kingdom has run his last race.
His exit came with a bang, of sorts, when he leaped upwards at the start of the Bauhinia Sprint Trophy yesterday and jockey Gerald Mosse hit his head on the stalls, leaving Sacred Kingdom lengths behind the field. He made a lot of ground to put himself in contention by halfway through the 1,000-metre Group Three contest before the effort told and he dropped out to 10th of the 11 starters.
Owner Sin Kang-yuk and trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai made the difficult decision last night to bring down the curtain on a career that saw Sacred Kingdom named the world's top turf sprinter for three years in a row from 2007 to 2009 and the gelding was recently listed on the world thoroughbred rankings for the fifth successive year.
'We don't want to race him above 1,000m now and there isn't another race for him like that until next season - six months away - when he will be nine years old. So the decision has been made to retire him,' said Yiu. 'He didn't jump properly today which had a bearing on his performance but maybe he's just fed up with it all and the time is right.'
Yiu said Sacred Kingdom, who amassed HK$45.8 million in stakes winning 17 of his 36 starts, would likely be returned to live out his days in Australia, where he was born.
'For me he was on a par with Fairy King Prawn as the best horse I have trained. He was on that level and I keep dreaming that I will train another one as good,' Yiu said.
The 2009-10 Horse Of the Year was a seven-time Group One winner - with an international in Singapore to go with his two on home soil - despite missing most of the 2008-09 season with a fractured sesamoid bone, and then being sidelined for eight months in 2010 following a near-fatal colic attack on the tarmac at Chek Lap Kok airport as he prepared to board a flight to Japan.
The son of Encosta De Lago was not only one of Hong Kong's most successful but best-loved racehorses - he was twice named Most Popular Horse of the year after public voting in 2009 and 2010, titles that sat alongside his four Champion Hong Kong Sprinter awards.