Five-time Group 1 winning sprinter Lucky Nine will run in the Group 1 Hong Kong International Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin on December 8, despite failing to fire in the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Lucky Nine went into the VRC Sprint Classic as the clear favourite for the Group 1 event, after finishing second behind Buffering in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) in his Australian racing debut, but weakened in the final stages of the race to finish sixth, more than four and a half lengths behind Buffering.
Trainer Caspar Fownes told The South China Morning Post that Lucky Nine was found to be suffering from soreness in his off-hind quarter after the race but has recovered well and has received the all clear from Hong Kong Jockey Club vet Felim Mac Eion.
“We had Felim look right over him this morning and everything looks good,” Fownes said.
“I spent an hour with the horse after the races and initially everything looked fine, I was happy with him, but the next day when the vet looked at him he was quite tight and very sore behind.
“He gave him an anti-inflammatory, and now my vet here can’t find anything wrong with him so I’m happy.”
Fownes said that Lucky Nine is no certainty to contest the Hong Kong Sprint for the fourth year in a row but plans on giving the Dubawi gelding every possible chance to prove that he is ready for another crack at the Group 1 event.
“We will start cantering in the next few days and see how he is, and if we are happy with him we will go forward to the race in December,” Fownes said.
“I’m preparing him as I normally would and at this stage I am happy.”
Lucky Nine made his Group 1 debut in the 2010 edition of the Hong Kong Sprint (1200m), finishing seventh behind JJ The Jet Plane, and recorded a narrow victory over Entrapment in 2011.
The tough gelding drew wide in the 2012 Hong Kong Sprint was taken to the back of the field by jockey Brett Prebble before flashing home late to finish fifth behind runaway winner Lords Kanaloa.
Lucky Nine will join Sacred Kingdom as the only horse to have won the Hong Kong Sprint on multiple occasions in non-consecutive years if he is successful in December.