Trainer Caspar Fownes believes that Lucky Nine is primed for the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday after he produced an exciting piece of trackwork on the all-weather track yesterday morning.
Lucky Nine will be return to Hong Kong Racing for the first time since his 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign in Australia, finishing second in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on October 25 and sixth in the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 9, and according to Fownes has relished being back at his home base.
The son of Dubawi was found to be suffering from soreness in his off-hind quarter after his less than stellar performance in the VRC Sprint Classic but Fownes told The South China Morning Post that the six-year-old had recovered well from the issue and believes his star galloper is back to his best after seeing his work yesterday.
“It was sub 22 and Brett was hanging off him; it was exciting work,” Fownes said.
“When I looked at the watch, and then how easily he was doing it, my jaw dropped.
“You hope you haven’t done too much but he did it so emphatically and it’s okay if they are doing it with their own will and it’s as if the jockeys pushing him.”
Jockey Brett Prebble knows Lucky Nine as well as anybody, except for Fownes, and has partnered him to Group 1 victory on five occasions but even he was surprised with the ease in which the star sprinter completed his impressive work yesterday.
“I was meant to run 24 seconds the last quarter but he did it so easily,” Prebble said.
“I thought maybe he had run 23, but he is deceiving.
“The sprint was just instant, he just dropped him and he was on his own all the way up the straight.”
Lucky Nine, who is on the second line of Hong Kong Sprint betting markets, will need to be at his very best to upset clear favourite Lord Kanaloa; who has recorded six wins from ten career starts and beat Lucky Nine by three and a half lengths in last year’s edition of the Hong Kong Sprint.
Lord Kanaloa has won six of his past seven starts, including victories in the Group 1 Sprinters Stakes (1206m), Group 1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1206m) and the Group 1 Uasuda Kinen, and has been the best supported runner on the entire Hong Kong International Raceday card.
Lucky Nine will join Sacred Kingdom (2007 and 2009) as the first horse to win the Hong Kong Sprint twice in non-consecutive years if he can beat Lord Kanaloa and the rest of the field on Sunday.