01/25/2008 1:00AM

Sacred Kingdom can stay on top

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Sacred Kingdom should have little trouble maintaining his position as the world's top-rated sprinter at Sha Tin on Sunday when he faces seven rivals in the five-furlong $576,000 Centenary Sprint Cup, a Hong Kong Group 1 contest that is the first leg of the Champion Sprint Series.

The Australian-bred 4-year-old is rated at 123 on the World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings, two pounds better than the Breeders' Cup Sprint winner, Midnight Lute. Fresh from a 2 1/4-length victory in the six-furlong Hong Kong Sprint on Dec. 9, Sacred Kingdom will again be ridden by Frenchman Gerald Mosse.

Absolute Champion chased Sacred Kingdom home that day, as he did when he finished 2 3/4 lengths second to him in the International Sprint Trial on Nov. 17. Trained by David Hall, Absolute Champion was the winner of the Hong Kong Sprint in 2006 but has not found the winners' circle since taking the six-furlong Chairman's Sprint Prize on March 4. By any predictable gauge, he will be chasing Sacred Kingdom home again on Sunday.