Hong Kong raider Amber Sky won the Al Quoz Sprint l Quoz Sprint empowered by IPIC as Shea Shea failed to come from last to first at Meydan.
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Shea Shea was sent off a warm order to maintain his fabulous record over course and distance and win this Group One contest for successive years but the seven-year-old had the whole field in front of him at the halfway stage.
Ridden by the Brazilian sensation Joao Moreira, Amber Sky had risen through the ranks in the Far East in the care of trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai and was swiftly into the lead from the outset.
Shea Shea picked up stylishly approaching the furlong pole but his run flattened out and he couldn't get past the front-running Amber Sky and Ahtoug.
There wasn't a great deal in it at the line but Amber Sky had held on from Ahtoug, whose jockey Mickael Barzalona dropped his whip over a furlong from home, with Shea Shea only third.
Moreira said: "I really couldn't feel any better after that. He's such an easy horse to ride and I was able to get him into a good rhythm and nicely relaxed.
"You have to have a good horse to win a race like this and he's a special one."
Trainer Ricky Yiu previously trained two of the greats of Hong Kong racing in Fairy King Prawn and Sacred Kingdom but was reluctant to draw any comparison to those greats just yet.
"I can't compare him yet to those horses as he only done it down a straight course at 1000m. He would have to do it around a bend at 1200m also but maybe he can get to that level in the future," he smiled.
Yiu said he would consider further international options for the straight 1000m specialist.
"It was always the plan to come here and win an international race. The King's Stand at Royal Ascot is a possible target but I will talk to the owners first," Yiu commented.
"It's a stiff five furlongs (1000m) uphill at Ascot so it would be a new challenge but he's an improving horse.
"I'm just very relieved he won. It was tough. They were all coming at him in the last 1000m and I was worried that he might get tired but he fought really well," he added.
De Kock said of Shea Shea: "He lost half a length leaving the gate and then he had to snatch him up but, in fairness, we would never have beaten the winner."