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Lucky Sacred Empire

7YO promoted to winner after successful protest by third horse against the first

The 2019 Malaysian racing season ended on a sensational note in Penang yesterday, with the first horse past the post in the final classic being demoted following a protest by the rider of the third horse for interference.

The lucky beneficiary of the RM300,000 (S$98,000) Malaysian Group 1 Yang Di Pertua Negeri Gold Cup over 2,000m was former Kranji galloper Sacred Empire.

The seven-year-old New Zealand-bred ran on strongly to be second past the post, three-quarter lengths behind the favourite Black Thorn.

Sacred Empire's stablemate D'Great Timing was third, a nose away. Fourth, 31/4 lengths behind, was last year's winner Davinci, a former Kranji horse.

As the commentator was announcing that it was the first Group 1 success for Black Thorn's trainer, SY Lim, and the second for Malaysia-based Brazilian jockey Bernardo Pinheiro, the objection siren rang.

The commentator then said the objection was by the third horse against the first.

After a lengthy deliberation, the Penang stewards upheld the objection for interference in the closing stages. Black Thorn was relegated to third.

The race was run at a fast tempo. Blue Danube led by about seven lengths from 2016 Singapore Gold Cup runner-up Time Odyssey.

Another big break away came Black Thorn. D'Great Timing and Sacred Empire were slightly further back.

The leader ran out of gas just before the home turn. Black Thorn and D'Great Timing swept up together on his outside to pull clear in the straight.

After a fierce tussle, Black Thorn kicked ahead to be first home. Sacred Empire got up to beat D'Great Timing for second.

Owned by Raffles Racing Stable, which races a strong team in Singapore, Sacred Empire gave trainer Frank Maynard his fourth Yang Di Pertua Negeri Gold Cup victory.

Maynard won with New Kuala Dipang in 2007, Yestremski in 2014 and Value Of Justice in 2017. Yestremski and Value Of Justice were also former Singapore-based gallopers.

Sacred Empire was ridden by jockey KC Wong yesterday.

The horse was unplaced in six starts under Singapore champion trainer Mark Walker before being sent to Malaysia.

Yesterday's win was his third for Maynard.