02/15/2008 1:00AM

Rivalry goes on at Sha Tin


n what is probably the world's most heated head-to-head Thoroughbred rivalry, Sacred Kingdom and Absolute Champion, the two highest-rated sprinters in the world, will clash for the fourth time in recent months in the $577,000 Chairman's Sprint Prize at Sha Tin on Sunday.

The Hong Kong speedsters appear to have the one-turn, right-handed six-furlong dash to carve up between themselves, just as they did when Sacred Kingdom beat his rival by 2 3/4 lengths in November in the International Sprint Trial and three weeks later by 2 1/4 lengths in the Hong Kong Sprint, both over the Chairman's Sprint Prize course and distance.

Absolute Champion gained a measure of revenge when he defeated Sacred Kingdom by a short head over a straight five furlongs in the Centenary Sprint Cup on Jan. 27.

Back at six furlongs for the Hong Kong Group 1 Chairman's Sprint Prize, the Ricky Yiu-trained Sacred Kingdom should have an edge over Absolute Champion, trained by David Hall.

The two Australian-breds could have something to fear from a New Zealand-bred foe, Medic Power, the winner of six sprints in a row last season, culminating in a 2 1/2-length victory over Sacred Kingdom in the six-furlong Sha Tin Vase Handicap, in which he was getting five pounds from Sacred Kingdom. In Sunday's race, all eight runners will carry 126 pounds.