Hong Kong's second-tier sprinters with international aspirations received a reality check when world champion Sacred Kingdom won a 1,000m turf barrier trial in brilliant fashion yesterday.
The Ricky Yiu Poon-fai-trained six-year-old made his first appearance after a minor injury setback and showed the break has done him the world of good.
He missed his intended trial on September 15 due to a hoof problem and subsequently had his Sprinters' Stakes assault in Japan called off in October. But Yiu was delighted with the way his superstar trialled under the guidance of Brett Prebble.
'It was a very nice trial and Brett was very happy with the way he trialled, too,' Yiu said.
Sacred Kingdom eyeballed Sight Winner (Douglas Whyte) all the way in the middle of the track and once he reached the 100m mark, it was clear the real Sacred Kingdom was back as he unleashed his killer turn of foot to power away.
'He looks in fantastic order. We will go easy on him as it's only the Sprint Trial [November 22] and we don't want to hurt him. He will be at his peak for the International Races on December 13,' Yiu said.
Hong Kong Derby hopeful King Dancer showed he had put his ordinary first-up outing behind him with an impressive display. He travelled strongly throughout the second 1,000m turf heat for Whyte and gave nothing else a chance.
Others who caught the eye in a busy 11-heat programme were Lucky Amore and Green Jacket (trial four), Gold Joint (trial five) and Brave Kid (trial six).
Meanwhile, Norman Invader looks to be back in business after scorching around the all-weather circuit last Friday to win a trial by 3 1/4 lengths.
The Tony Cruz-trained four-year-old made a big impression on his debut (June 1, 2008) when winning with authority, but has gone downhill since.
He has been a handful for most of his jockeys and hasn't lived up to that promise, with only one win on the scoresheet from 19 starts.
Norman Invader was once again in one of his moods - this time playing up behind the barriers - but once he got settled he was the first one to jump for Matthew Chadwick and ran his rivals ragged, with his final sectional coming in at 22.6. Chadwick never asked him to do anything and Norman Invader had plenty in the tank at the end of 1,200m.