It was an afternoon when champion sprinter Sacred Kingdom was meant to throw down the gauntlet and dare the world to come and take the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint off him next month, but yesterday ended in a triumph for Singapore and only the second major race dead-heat in Hong Kong racing history.
Jockey Felix Coetzee, for so long racing's talisman in his partnership with the 'Spirit Of Hong Kong', Silent Witness, found himself on the other side of public affections at Sha Tin as he played spoiler on Singapore champion Rocket Man and played his part with steely resolve.
Rocket Man may have wobbled on the turn at his first race right-handed but Coetzee got him balanced again, threw him at the line and he stuck his head up where it counted to take half of the Jockey Club Sprint and give the Lion City its first-ever international Group win on foreign soil.
Not since the John Moore-trained pair of Survey King and Makarpura Star were inseparable at the finish of the 1995 Champions & Chater Cup had two horses been declared the shared winners of a Group event, and again it was Moore (pictured) who claimed his piece of history with Darren Beadman and One World eating up the ground to join Rocket Man on the post.
'When you dead-heat with a world-class horse like Rocket Man, that's a great credit to my horse,' said Moore, as he continued his role as the leading big-event trainer in town, adding the Sprint to the Jockey Club Mile he won half an hour earlier with Able One.
'I think we probably got lucky today as Sacred Kingdom had an off day, but One World has been so consistent without winning in these races and deserved to get one. We'll take half,' Moore said.
Trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai was crestfallen after Sacred Kingdom's fifth to the dead-heaters, even though he was beaten under a length, but he was not giving up on December and a race that Sacred Kingdom has won twice.
'It's disappointing - he ran a good race but it obviously wasn't his best. I hope he can improve still for the international. I think he can,' Yiu said.