by one, the records fell as Singapore crowned a familiar champion in the $1
million KrisFlyer International Sprint even as unchartered territory was
Nine, that intrepid traveller from Hong Kong and last year’s defending
champion, became the first horse to make it back-to-back wins in the
International Group 1 sprint over 1200m.
Caspar Fownes also etched his name into the record books, winning the event for
a historic third time to make him the most successful trainer in the biggest
and richest sprint race in Singapore.
Proving that age is no barrier to success,
Lucky Nine ($16), who at seven was the second oldest runner in the field after
Captain Obvious (Oscar Chavez) was the only eight-year-old left following
Medicean Man’s late withdrawal at the starting gates, ran home a comfortable
victor ahead of a trio of local challengers.
by his regular partner Brett Prebble, the Irish-bred gelding finished
two-and-a-half lengths ahead of runner-up Emperor Max (Zac Purton), with Zac
Spirit (Alan Munro) a further two-and-a-quarter lengths away in third.
old timer Captain Obvious was fourth, another length-and-a-quarter back. The
winning time was a brisk 1min 8.15secs, just outside the Short Course record of
another Hong Kong star Sacred Kingdom’s winning time of 1min 7.80secs set in
Fownes, whose first triumph here was with Green Birdie in the 2010 edition, it
was sweet vindication for his superstar speedster, who posted a three-length
victory here last year but in the past 12 months since then has at times been
written off as being over-the-hill.
tell him he’s a seven-year-old!” laughed the Hong Kong-based British handler.
immensely proud of him and it’s been a real pleasure to have this horse. We’ve
had a lot of fun having him in our stable and it’s thrilling to get my third
win in this event.”
was also Lucky Nine’s seventh Group 1 victory, more than the combined total of
the other eight runners, in a glittering career that began as a two-year-old
racing in Ireland and has taken him all across the globe, competing in Japan,
Dubai and Australia as well as in Hong Kong.
this victory, the son of Dubawi had picked up 12 wins from 37 starts and
amassed stakes earnings of around HK$47 million (S$7.6 million). This latest
victory was worth around $550,000 for his connections.
adjusts to new environments very well,” said Fownes. "He’s like us, he loves to
travel and get out of Hong Kong. He’s got a lot of heart, that’s what you need
in a good horse.”
of the credit however, deservedly belongs to the two-time Hong Kong champion
trainer (2006-07and 2008-09), said triumphant rider Prebble.
was a super training performance by Caspar and I’m sure he had a lot of
sleepless nights about his decision to take off the blinkers for this race,”
said Prebble, who himself was collecting his third KrisFlyer title following
his 2009 win with Sacred Kingdom and last year’s win aboard Lucky Nine.
it was a winning decision and credit to Caspar. Taking them off did the job
With 10 wins from 29 rides astride of Lucky Nine, the Australian hoop is as
familiar as anyone with the talented speedball but had his doubts about the
decision to remove the headgear, as it seemed to have done the trick to rectify
his mount’s poor starts in recent months and Prebble himself had been pleased
with the result after Lucky Nine’s one-length second to Charles The Great in
last month’s Group 2 Sprint Cup (1200m) back home in Hong Kong.
was sluggish and difficult to get him out so that’s why we put them on,” he
said. "If you jump and you’re one length behind, it’s a length you have to make
up. It was lovely to be able to jump on par with the other horses.
seems to have gotten out of that habit and he seems a happy horse.”
any trainer worth his salt will tell you, a happy horse usually translates into
a winning one. And there was only one winner in this race once Lucky Nine, who
travelled handily close to the rails behind leader Captain Obvious, was given
the signal to let loose by Prebble down the straight with the winning post
the rain stopped, it meant that there was enough cushion in the ground which he
likes,” he said. "He’s the best horse in the field. I couldn’t wait to push the
button because I knew what I have underneath me.”
expected challenge from his main rivals, the reigning Group 1 Dubai Golden
Shaheen (1200m) champion and $12 favourite Sterling City (Joao Moreira,
finishing fifth) and Lion City Cup winner and local sprint star Zac Spirit
($18), never materialised and it was left instead to the Stephen Gray-trained
Emperor Max ($34), on the back of two losses, to take up
the challenge, albeit in vain.
feels like winning the race. It’s mixed emotions, but yet so exciting,” said
trainer Stephen Gray. "Zac rode him perfectly, but Lucky Nine was just too
done everything we have asked of him. Just three weeks ago, everybody was
pretty down after he pulled up so tired from his race (Lion City Cup when
second to Zac Spirit).
we hand-walked him for weeks just to change things up. We walked and walked him
and then we put the saddle back on him and he started to pick up again.”