Lucky Nine blitzes in Chairman's Sprint; It Has to Be You shocks Classic Cup
Frederick Engels closed out strongly, his final 400-meter (about quarter-mile) sectional of :21.95 being the quickest of all and .07 faster than the winner, but try as he may, the four-year-old was unable to get on terms with Lucky Nine who scored by three-quarters of a length in a time of 1:09.28 for about six furlongs. The reliable Captain Sweet was the same distance back in third.
"He's jumped quite cleanly and I was going to take a more forward position than we did but he got a bit of interference early," Prebble said. "I had to take a pull back and I let him just enjoy his race.
"We didn't go that fast, so once I picked up my bridle and they started to sprint home, I really put the foot down before the 250 meters because I knew his stamina would kick in, more so than Frederick Engels, who's got a very sharp turn of foot -- I didn't want him getting upsides me and then have an explosive last furlong, so I've dragged him out a bit and it worked in my favor!"
Fownes has entered Lucky Nine for the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen on March 30, a race in which he ran a brave third from a bad gate last year, but the trainer may opt to aim him at the third and final leg of the Hong Kong Speed Series, the Group 1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup at about seven furlongs at Sha Tin on March 17.
"I'll see how he comes out of this and the horse will tell me," Fownes said. "I'll talk to Doc (owner Dr. Chang Fuk To) during the week and if we go for Dubai then we won't go for the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup, that's for sure, but if we want to go for the 1,400 meters, we'll stay here.
"We know that the straight 1,000 meters (that he raced over last time) is a specialists' track. He handles it but he's obviously a lot better around the turn and the six furlongs is a little bit sharp for him, but I've been sprinting him well and his ideal distance will probably be his next start if I decide to run him in the 1400 meters."
"His form hasn't been too bad and the other day in the Classic Mile he was the last horse standing of the horses up on the speed, going a pretty good gallop," Clark said. "All the horses that passed him came from back in the field. Today, from a good gate we were able to travel smoother and he showed a really good turn of foot.
"There's not a lot separating the horses and the barrier plays a role. Today I was fortunate to draw a low gate (2) and have a lovely run. My horse really attacked the gap when it came and put the race beyond doubt pretty quickly.
"It's a big achievement to win my first Group 1 in Hong Kong and it was the next thing to achieve here -- I'm really proud about how this season's gone."
It Has to Be You scored by three-quarters of a length in a time of 1:48.91 from another longshot, the Danny Shum-trained President Lincoln, who was a head to the good over the John Moore-trained Ashkiyr in third.
Size landed last year's Group 1 Hong Kong Derby with Fay Fay, and the trainer has no fears about It Has to Be You seeing out the about 1 1/4-mile showcase on March 17.
"I think he'll run further than 2000 meters -- we just don't have the races to try it," Hong Kong's champion trainer said. "In trackwork he bowls around the track like he'd go two laps, so we have no doubts about the distance. It's just a matter of getting up to the distance that will let him show his prowess as a racehorse and I think the 1,800 meters is the beginning of that.
"He's done nothing wrong since he's been in Hong Kong. He's been progressive every step of the way. The tempo didn't suit him last start and today he got more comfortable and was able to sprint in the finish."
Gold-Fun, forced to race wide after jumping from gate 13, closed out well, clocking :22.42 for the final about quarter-mile to claim fourth. Only President Lincoln and Akeed Mofeed went faster in the closing stages: Akeed Mofeed was keen early as he raced near the rear from gate 10 and ran home wide in 22.27 to be a 1 3/4-length sixth in a blanket finish for the minor spoils.
The March 17 Hong Kong Derby is the third and final leg of the Hong Kong Four-Year-Old series.
Send this article to a friend