A win in the Group 1 $1m VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday will see Hong Kong’s number one sprinter Lucky Nine collect a $1.2m pay cheque and put him in line for a US$1m Global Sprint Challenge Bonus.
As well as the $600,000 first prizemoney, the Victoria Racing Club has added a $600,000 bonus to the winner if it had already won an overseas leg of the ten race Global Sprint Challenge Series this year.
And if Lucky Nine does pick up the first prize at Flemington he will be the only horse eligible to win the US$1m bonus by winning three of the GSC races in three different countries after winning the Group 1 S$1m Krisflyer International Sprint (1200m) at Singapore in May.
The final race of the GSC is the Group 1 HK$15m Longines Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) on December 8 to be run on Lucky Nine’s home track at Sha Tin.
Hong Kong trainer Casper Fownes was keen to have a runner in Australia and couldn’t pass up the opportunity with Lucky Nine with such a huge purse on offer.
“With the money that is involved we had to take the punt of bringing him,” Fownes told the Sportsman.
“I’ve always wanted to bring a horse to Australia and it has been an exciting trip.”
Lucky Nine showed that he is on track for the VRC Sprint Classic after a flashing second to Buffering, beaten a nose, in the Group 1 $1m Sportingbet Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on October 25 and Fownes said that the seven year old has improved on that run.
“There was a fair bit of improvement from his trial before he raced, to the race, he kept progressing,” Fownes said.
“I’d say he is going to improve two lengths on that run in the Manikato.”
Lucky Nine will be having his first look at the Flemington straight but Fownes is confident it won’t be a problem with Brett Prebble having a couple of options from gate nine in the fourteen horse field.
“We have the option from barrier nine and it’s a perfect gate to give us the chance to go whichever way is the right way,” Fownes said.
“Around the turn he is a lot better horse but he hasn’t had the opportunity to race down the straight many times and in Hong Kong it is five furlongs which is sharp for him.”
“He should be able to tack on and be strong at the line and I think it will suit him.”
The first four across the line in the Manikato Stakes, Buffering, Lucky Nine, Sessions and Moment Of Change, are all lining up in the VRC Sprint Classic and it is certain to be a blanket finish again.
Lucky Nine has been posted the $3.80 favourite with Buffering at $7.50 and Platelet the next in the betting at $8.
The Peter Moody trained Moment Of Change is marked at $10 while Sessions, one of three runners for trainer Peter Snowden, is at the good odds of $17.