Amber Sky burned to a course record victory in the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint Empowered by IPIC (UAE-I) March 29 at Meydan (VIDEO).
The Hong Kong-based son of reigning Australian champion sire Exceed And Excel led most of the way under Joao Moreira and and won by a neck from Godolphin's Ahtoug while covering 1,000 meters (about five furlongs) on turf in a record :56.21.
Shea Shea, last year's winner and the 4-5 favorite in North American pools hosted by AmWest Entertainment, finished third a head back in trying to complete a last-to-first rally. United States-based Berlino Di Tiger was unplaced after racing up front early along with Hamza.
"He's such a fast horse and very easy to ride," Moreira said of Amber Sky, the second Hong Kong-based horse to win the race, joining 2010 winner Joy And Fun. "I was able to not let him go too fast in the early stages, to hold onto him a bit, but when I pushed the button he gave me another kick and kept going to the line.
"Near the line I could feel the other two horses coming at me, I didn't know who they were, but he kept sticking his neck out and we got there."
Amber Sky, the 5-2 second choice trained by Ricky Yiu for Hung Kam Po, came in off a 2 1/4-length win in the Centenary Sprint Cup Jan. 26 at Sha Tin. The Al Quoz Sprint was his first win in an international group I race and Yiu indicated that more international competition could be in his future, including the King's Stand Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot.
"I'm just very relieved he won," Yiu said about the Al Quoz Sprint. "It was tough. They were all coming at him in the last 1,000 meters (five furlongs) and I was worried that he might get tired but he fought really well."
Bred in Australia by O. E. and D. R Pope, Amber Sky is out of the Australian group II winner Truly Wicked, by Rubiton.