01/17/2011 12:35PM

Sacred Kingdom wins another Centenary Cup


Sacred Kingdom scored his third victory in four years in the Centenary Sprint Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday, but Japan Cup winner Rose Kingdom went down to defeat in the Grade 2 Nikkei Shinshum Hai at Kyoto.

Rated the world’s best sprinter for three consecutive years until losing his title to the Australian-trained Black Caviar in 2010, Sacred Kingdom was breaking a two-race losing streak as he rallied from sixth place to catch the early pacesetter Dim Sum just outside the eighth pole for a three-quarter-length victory in the $587,000 Hong Kong Group 1 dash. Ridden by Brett Prebble, the 7-year-old Australian-bred Sacred Kingdom sped the straight five furlongs on good ground in 56.52. It was another half-length back to Sweet Sanette in third, andGroup 1 winners Green Birdie and Ultra Fantasy trailed home in seventh and eighth.

Trained by Ricky Yiu for Sin Kang Yuk, Sacred Kingdom had little trouble in landing his short 3-5 odds. A two-time winner of Hong Kong’s premier sprint event, the six-furlong Hong Kong Sprint, Sacred Kingdom has now won 17 of his 27 career starts for earnings of $5.25 million. Seven of his 17 victories have been at the Group 1 level with one of them, the 2009 KrisFlyer Sprint, coming at Kranji in Singapore. In his lone try outside of Asia he finished 4 1/2 length fifth in the 2009 Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

He will remain in Hong Kong in future. Sacred Kingdom’s next assignment will be the second leg of the Hong Kong Speed Series, the six-furlong Chairman’s Sprint Prize on Feb. 5.

Rose Kingdom, awarded the Japan Cup over Buena Vista in what some people though was an unjust decision by the Tokyo stewards, was expected to whistle against lesser competition as the even-money favorite in the $1.35 million Nikkei Shinshun Hai. He could only manage third, however, as the 2.20-1 second choice Rulership prevailed by two lengths with Hiruno d’Amour nosing out the favorite for third. The winning time for the 12 furlongs on firm ground was 2:24.60.

Ridden by Italian Umberto Rispoli and trained by Katsuhiko Sumii for Sunday Racing Co. Ltd, the same outfit that owns Rose Kingdom, Rulership is a 4-year-old son of King Kamehameha. In victory he was turning the tables on Hiruno d’Amour, who had beaten him a half-length into second in Hanshin’s 1 1/8-mile, Grade 3 Naruo Kinen on Dec. 4.