After Amber Sky obliterated his rivals up the Sha Tin straight course, trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai ominously warned that his star sprinter was still getting better and suggested that his next start could be two months away in the US$1 million Al Quoz Sprint.
Last start, Amber Sky again failed miserably in his effort to handle a turn when favourite in the Group Two Jockey Club Sprint - but on returning to his favoured five-furlong trip, the freak four-year-old made the HK$6 million Group One Kent & Curwen Centenary Sprint Cup a one-act affair as he burned off rivals in a stunning display of sustained speed.
"The scary thing is that we haven't seen the best of him yet - there's probably 10 per cent more there," Yiu said, before dodging comparisons with his former star Sacred Kingdom - who won this race twice in 2010 and 2011.
Unlike Sacred Kingdom, Amber Sky is yet to prove he can get beyond the minimum trip, but whether that is a matter of stamina or tractability is still up for debate, according to Yiu.
Whatever the case, the trainer seemed to be leaning towards skipping the second leg of the speed series, the Group One Chairman's Sprint Prize in two weeks, in favour of heading to Meydan in Dubai fresh on March 29.
"He's a bit of a one-dimensional horse - 1,000m straight is what he's best at," Yiu said. "Let's forget about 1,200m, at least around a bend for now. We are very interested to see whether he can run 1,200m up a straight one day - but a turn and the second leg of the sprint series would be a big risk. We are aiming for Dubai. We might head straight there."
Joao Moreira had partnered Amber Sky in a Class Two straight race earlier this season, where he won with similar authority and in a similar time; the son of Exceed And Excel again breaking 56 seconds, and doing it like he had something in hand. Last week, Moreira called Able Friend possibly the best horse he had ever ridden, and seven days later he was again reaching for the "best" tag - at least over a sprint journey.
"Obviously, I haven't ridden in my life a horse like Black Caviar, but [Amber Sky] is probably one of the best sprinters I've ridden, and if we are talking about 1,000m, then he is definitely the best," Moreira said. Riding second favourite Go Baby Go, Tye Angland had poured the pressure on Amber Sky in the middle stages, in a premeditated plan to test the less experienced horse, but it quickly became clear that the ploy had backfired. Go Baby Go was left gasping with 400m to go, along with a number of humbled rivals.
Angland called Go Baby Go "disappointing", and Olivier Doleuze offered no excuses for Eagle Regiment, who finished last in his attempt to win the race for a third time.
John Moore's outsider Straight Gold ran on well for second, ahead of another less fancied runner, Cerise Cherry, but the trainer was less thrilled with the unplaced efforts of Charles The Great (sixth) and Frederick Engels (fourth) - who scoped with blood in his trachea post race. "We won't be going to Dubai with any of my sprinters based on that," Moore said.