Hong Kong’s star sprinter Lucky Nine brilliantly defended his KrisFlyer International Sprint title at Kranji on Sunday night, creating history as the first horse to win the race twice.
The seven year-old – given a masterful ride from barrier two by Brett Prebble – won his 14th race at start 41, with career earnings right at HK$50m (A$8.38m). Trainer Casper Fownes-prepared son of Dubawi is now a seven-time winner at G1 level and, while a visitor, Lucky Nine was welcomed back to the winner’s enclosure much like a local hero.
After trailing leader Captain Obvious and Emperor Max to the home turn, Lucky Nine was eased across heels and strode away to score by a ever-widening 2 1/2 lengths from a gallant Emperor Max while Zac Spirit battled gamely in the latter stages to overhaul Captain Obvious late for third.
A delighted Fownes was measured after the race: “It’s a real pleasure to train this horse,” he said.
“This is my third win in this race and we are all proud of him.
“He’s been in great form … he’s a good traveller.”
The win was Brett Prebble’s 10th on the horse and the champion Aussie hoop rode the perfect race
“This has been a super training performance … all credit goes to Casper,” Prebble said upon returning to scale.
“The [addition of] blinkers did the job in getting him away with the field.
“He was the best horse in the race.”
Lucky Nine registered a fast 1.08.15s for the 1200m on what was a fast-drying track.
While Lucky Nine defended his title in style, fellow Hong Kong raider Military Attack had every chance in the G1
And it was the case of second time lucky for Dan Excel in the G1 SIA Cup (2000m).
Twelve months back, Dan Excel succumbed to Military Attack in the Cup but the result was decisively revered in track record time (1.59.07s).
A hectic speed – as expected – was established by Japanese visitor Toeki Halo and punters who supported Military Attack to start an odds on elect would have been content in running.
He was sixth to the middle stages and Joao Moreira urged the four-time G1 winner five wide into the straight but gelding was three lengths in arrears of Dan Excel and his compatriot was moving away.
In the latter stages, Smoking Gun worked to the line hard to be beaten only 1 3/4 lengths while Military Attack battled away to finish third, a further 1 1/2 lengths in arrears.
Jockey Tommy Berry gave credit to trainer John Moore post-race and also gave mention to his recently deceased twin Nathan.
Ä large butterfly landed on my boot in the mounting yard and the same one or the same kind was at the barrier,” an emotional Berry said.
“Nathan was here today.”
In sixteen previous starts at the elite level, Dan Excel had won only once. In Singapore, he was supreme … much like Lucky Nine.