Lucky Nine won the first half of an international group I double for Hong Kong when scoring a clear victory from Bel Sprinter the KrisFlyer International Sprint (Sin-I) May 19 at Kranji Racecourse.
The win preceded an impressive victory by Hong Kong-based Military Attack, who outshone a star-studded field in the Singapore Airlines International Cup (Sin-I) one race later.The International Sprint was marred by the apparent breakdown in the stretch of pacesetter Emerald Hill, whose jockey Jose Verenzuela was slammed to the ground although he miraculously appeared to avoid a serious injury.
Ridden by Brett Prebble for trainer Casper Fownes, Lucky Nine tracked from third on the fence, then angled out to seize command and cruise clear in the final 200 meters. He crossed the finish line three lengths to the good of elite Australian Bel Sprinter with reigning Singapore Horse of the Year and race favorite Super Easy a head back in third in the 11-horse field.
Bel Sprinter, third to now-retired undefeated champion Black Caviar in the T.J. Smith Stakes (Aus-I) April 13 at Randwick, was slow to start and settled near the back of the field early. Coming out wide for the drive, he closed powerfully but could not catch the winner, who covered 1,200 meters (about six furlongs) in 1:08.81 on turf rated as good.
A well-traveled 6-year-old gelding by Dubawi, Lucky Nine captured the 2011 Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I) and won the Chairman's Sprint Prize, a top-level race in Hong Kong in February. He dropped his two subsequent starts and showed some blood in his trachea after his most effort April 28 at Sha Tin, but he made amends in the International Sprint.
Fownes said he felt tremendous pressure in having Lucky Nine in peak condition for the International Sprint.
"The pressure on me after his last run where he had blood in his trachea was quite heavy," he said. "Having to travel him here and then get him to perform at his top, the pressure was right on.
"This means a lot to us to come here and win on international soil. We'll put him away now and we'll look forward to the next season."
Racing Post reports Lucky Nine is an entrant in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Eng-I) next month at Royal Ascot.
Lucky Nine was bred in Ireland by Darley and is campaigned by Dr. Chang Fuk To and Maria Chang Lee Ming Shum. From 34 career starts, he has 12 wins and seven stakes victories as well as seven stakes-placings, including two in group stakes in Japan and Dubai.
Lucky Nine is out of the winning Green Desert mare Birjand, whose dam is Irish group I winner Belle Genius. A member of Dubawi's first crop, he is the third winner at the group I level in 2013 for his sire, who stands for Darley at Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket.
Listen to Lucky Nine's trainer Casper Fownes talk about his win: