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Little Bridge to prep for Hong Kong Sprint

Little Bridge, victorious in last June's Group 1 King's Stand at Royal Ascot, will launch his assault on next month's Hong Kong International races with a start in Sunday's Jockey Club Sprint.

A winner in the 1200-meter prep for the International meet last year, the gelding will try to improve upon a fourth-place finish in last season's Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint. Following his win in the King's Stand, the six-year-old finished an uncharacteristic 10th in Nakayama's Group 1 Sprinters Stakes September 30. Jockey Zac Purton, who was aboard in Japan, partnered Little Bridge in a recent 1200-meter dirt trial November 9.

"I'm happier with him than I was before he went to Japan," Purton revealed. "I thought his trial was better than the trial he had before Japan. He wasn't trying to break any records. He was out to stretch his legs and his action was good and he feels good.

"There's still improvement there. His coat's a little bit dull and he doesn't feel like he's in top form yet, so I think this run will really bring him on. He'll be peaking for the Hong Kong Sprint in December, but I still think he'll be very hard to beat on Sunday."

Slated to face off with Little Bridge is the Caspar Fownes-trained Lucky Nine, who will be trying to defend his title in this year's Hong Kong Sprint. Formerly named Luck or Design, he was a closing fifth in his most recent start in the Sprinters.

Also ready to run this weekend are Cerise Cherry, who earned a recent course- and-distance win in the Premier Bowl for trainer Derek Cruz, and Singapore raider Super Easy representing trainer Michael Freedman. The winner of Singapore Guineas is scheduled to work at Sha Tin Wednesday under big-race pilot Olivier Doleuze.

"He has settled in really well," confirmed Freedman from the Singapore Turf Club Monday. "He lost about four to five kilos on the way over and he's already put those kilos back on."

In this weekend's Jockey Club Cup, trainer David Ferraris wields Hong Kong's champion stayer Liberator, who will meet last year's Group 1 Hong Kong Cup hero California Memory. The Australian-bred gelding won the Hong Kong Champions & Chater Cup earlier this season.

"Liberator is in good form," Ferraris said. "The 2000 meters is his game and he'll be very competitive on Sunday. He has two runs under his belt now; but the fact is he's carrying five pounds more than most of the others because he's a Group 1 winner."

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