Takeover fades to eighth but Australians still prevail
The incredible Takeover Target story may have ended in Singapore on Sunday but, in almost every other sense, the KrisFlyer Sprint produced yet another Australian victory.
Sacred Kingdom, a former world sprint champion, won the $1 million race by a neck from the local superstar Rocket Man.
Both horses are Australian bred and the winner was ridden by Hong Kong-based Aussie Brett Prebble.
While the result gave Australian racing something to celebrate, it raised serious doubts about the future of the horse that virtually came from the knackery door to win more than $7 million and become one of the country’s most celebrated gallopers.
Takeover Target finished eighth, 7-1/2 lengths from the winner, in one of the worst runs of his life.
Jockey Jay Ford said the nine-year-old had never been comfortable, even though he settled in a handy position with clear running.
"The whole race I was pushing him along," Ford said.
"At no stage was I entirely happy.
"We all know he’s a lot better than that.
"It will be interesting to see how he is when he cools down."
Niggling leg problems have always lurked in the background with Takeover Target, having forced his sale early in his life to current owner and trainer Joe Janiak.
They also emerged after his last English campaign and have restricted his career to a mere 40 starts.
For Sacred Kingdom, the result confirmed his return to the top flight of sprinters.
A former winner of the Hong Kong International Sprint and once the top-ranked sprinter in the world, he is a son of champion Australian sire Encosta De Lago.
Sacred Kingdom is trained in Hong Kong by Ricky Yiu.
Rocket Man, unbeaten in his only seven starts before Sunday night, ran a gallant race to be caught in the final 50 metres.
The three-year-old is by multiple Australian Group One winner Viscount and is trained in Singapore by expat South African Patrick Shaw.
By Mike Hedge