Lucky Nine denies Aussie glory

| August 18, 2013

LuckyNineHong Kong’s Lucky Nine 4-1 (Brett Prebble) won the International Sprint with a commanding performance under the floodlights at Kranji.

Australian 11-4 favourite Bel Sprinter, who was third behind Black Caviar on her final start, came roaring home from a nightmare draw but catching Lucky Nine was a forlorn hope. Super Easy, 4-1, finished third.

Lucky Nine, now a five-time Group 1 winner, has an entry for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, for which he is a best-priced 14-1 chance.

The Brett Prebble-ridden winner took advantage of a decent break from his low draw and tracked the pace around the bend before going clear with a furlong to run.

Lucky Nine was a Group One winner in Hong Kong back in February but after failing to shine in his two most recent starts, trainer Caspar Fownes was relieved to see his charge back on form.

He said: “He’s been unlucky overseas in the past but he’s shown what he can do tonight.

“The pressure was on after his last run so I’m glad it’s worked out, the owners have been great.”

Prebble said: “That was an awesome feeling and it means a lot to me, I’ve got a soft spot for him.

“He’s bounced back in some style tonight.”

In what turned in to a rough race, Emerald Hill appeared to suffer an injury and unseated his jockey causing interference with a furlong to run.

Irish raider Balmont Mist missed the kick from the stalls and was detached in rear for the first half of the race before making late gains under Johnny Murtagh to finish fourth.

Runner-up Bel Sprinter was marginally interfered with when Emerald Hell stumbled and fell in the home straight, but would not have troubled the winner even with a clearer passage.

Prebble, who won last year’s Melbourne Cup on Green Moon, saluted on the Hong Kong star Lucky Nine for trainer Casper Fownes.

The former Victorian champion jockey had time to sit up and salute the crowd as Lucky Nine won by three lengths.

His former master, John Meagher, was on hand after travelling from the Gold Coast to hug him.

Lucky Nine now is being lured to come to Victoria for the Patinack Farm Classic at Flemington during the spring carnival.

Bel Sprinter was gallant in defeat. The five-year-old was tardy out of the barriers, settled last and then suffered a severe bump coming into the straight.

He charged down the outside to finish second, a head in front of the Michael Freedman-trained Super Easy.

The race was full of incident, especially when local Emerald Hill dumped jockey Jose Verenzuela 250m from the post.

Bel Sprinter’s trainer, Mornington Peninsula’s Jason Warren, declared his “Balnarring Bullet” had “done Australia proud”.

“It was a bit rough on the corner. But he did a super job,” he said.

Jockey Hugh Bowman was equally effusive.

“He ran a great race. He was cannoned into turning for home and I had to use the overdrive a bit early. But the winner was too good tonight,” Bowman said.

After missing the start, Bel Sprinter was on the wrong leg early in the race.

Bowman said the experience would be great for the galloper.

“Wherever he goes now he will be better for the experience. He goes better the other way of racing and that is good news for the plans to go to Hong Kong,” Bowman said.

Warren, 37, declared the race as “the biggest day of my life” as he watched the race with the half dozen owners who made the trip.

The way Bel Sprinter performed suggests he is world class.

This was a quality international field of sprinters. Besides Lucky Nine, runners included Balmont Mast (Ireland) ridden by Johnny Murtagh, Dux Scholar (Russia), ridden by Khamzat Ulubaev, Kavanagh (South Africa), with Glyn Schofield in the saddle, and Dasher Go Go (Japan), ridden by Italian Umberto Rispoli.

Freedman, who earlier won races with Raziyya Of Sydney for former AFL footballer and bookmaker Mark Read and with Masthead for the Mummify Stable headed by Melbourne businessman John O’Neill and his mates, was delighted with the run of Super Easy.

He is aiming to return to Melbourne for the Patinack Farm Classic down the Flemington straight.

“He ran great. This was a really hot field and I think he stood up,” Freedman said.


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