The defeat of Sacred Kingdom in England on Saturday night should be the end of any debate over the Horse of the Year, with no hurdles left to prevent Viva Pataca finally and formally taking his place among the greats. It may have to be the consolation prize for trainer John Moore, whose stable seems to have run out of legs in the dying weeks of the championship and has few bullets left with which to resist a rampaging Caspar Fownes. Viva Pataca has won four races this season, including two Group Ones and a Group Two, plus his admirable second to Presvis in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup. His major rival is incumbent Horse of the Year Good Ba Ba, who had a good season by any measure other than his 2007-08 clean sweep of the major miles. A second Hong Kong Mile, a second Stewards Cup, each achieved with arrogant ease. Good Ba Ba was then second in the Queen's Silver Jubilee Stakes at 1,400 metres before the elements contrived against him on Champions Mile day when softer ground dulled his ability to accelerate. If that was unlucky, it was almost a red carpet ride compared with the horror run of Viva Pataca in the Hong Kong Cup in December. Jockey Darren Beadman was stopped everywhere he went in the final 600 metres of our richest race, ultimately finishing fourth. While no one can say for sure he would have beaten Eagle Mountain, he would have made it extremely close with clear running. When Weichong Marwing saved Viva Pataca for a late inside run in the Champions & Chater Cup, he should have sealed the Horse of the Year deal. The only possible derailment was for Sacred Kingdom to become a bigger international hero at Royal Ascot, and that didn't happen. Viva Pataca has now won HK$71,331,500 in prize money from 12 wins and 12 minor placings from just 29 starts spread over four seasons. It's the second-largest money haul, with only Vengeance Of Rain's famous Dubai win the difference. Viva Pataca deserves this, not just for this year but for the other seasons when he was cruelly denied. In his classic year, 2006, the Derby and Champions & Chater plus two other wins from six runs was Horse of the Year material, until along came Bullish Luck with the Champions Mile, Yasuda Kinen and Asian Mile Challenge. The following year, Viva Pataca flogged Vengeance Of Rain in their final two encounters, including the Champions & Chater - the race the Jockey Club itself billed as 'the decider' in pre-race promotions. However, a majority of judges decided Vengeance Of Rain's Dubai Sheema Classic win deserved greater weight and voted that way - a fair-and-square 31/4 lengths wasn't a decider at all, apparently. Moore's grip on the trainers' premiership has been weakened to the point of release, with Fownes going to Happy Valley tonight with the bases loaded compared with Moore's modest representation of three. However, if Fownes is ultimately crowned champion next Wednesday, don't feel too sorry for Moore. Already the owner of five titles, he is far and away the leading trainer by prize money again, his runners having banked HK$97.8 million compared with HK$52.4 million for Fownes and HK$61.1 million for John Size. As Moore often says, prize money is the championship in many jurisdictions and winning the 'financial premiership' is his goal every season. With six Group Ones - a huge tally from only 14 staged and six of those internationals - Moore's 2008-09 has been hugely successful with or without that elusive trainer's flag.