Fownes tips big run from Lucky Nine in Manikato
Wet ground only unknown as sprinter thrives in preparation for 'million-dollar barrier trial' on Friday night
All the pieces are falling into place ahead of Lucky Nine’s “million-dollar barrier trial” in the Group One Manikato Stakes (1,200m) at Moonee Valley on Friday night with the one unknown the possibility of wet ground.
“There was a lot of rain this morning and there is a forecast for some in the lead-in to Friday, but from what I’ve been told it’s likely to be a ‘dead 4’ grade, just on the softer side of good in our classifications. That would be an interesting thing to throw in the mix because he’s never been on a wet track,” said trainer Caspar Fownes today after his sprinter drew ideally in gate four for the Manikato, the same launch pad he had in his devastating win in Singapore last May.
“He’s still a way off his top fitness because he’s done so well in Melbourne, but I’m not panicking. In fact, it’s a good sign that he’s thriving in a strange environment.
“And even without being 100 per cent fit, he’s going to run a big race on Friday, but it’s really all about his second run at Flemington in the Patinack that will set him up for the big bonus back at home – this is his million-dollar barrier trial on the way there.”
Lucky Nine’s only run on soft going was his two-year-old win in Ireland on good-to-yielding ground and his past foot problems and an ability to be effective on the all-weather at Sha Tin suggest he won’t be troubled by some give in the ground.
But Fownes said he was less concerned about the possibility of some cut in the ground than about cold weather.
“I hope it’s a nice warm night. Lucky Nine’s had internal bleeding problems his whole career and it’s just something we’ve had to manage.
“He didn’t scope that well after he galloped at Moonee Valley last Tuesday, but he was clean after Sunday’s workout and I was really happy with that,” he said. “I’d be terrified if we got a cold night on Friday because that’s when there’s a real risk these problems will flare up.”
Jockey Brett Prebble was delighted by the inside barrier but with one proviso that Lucky Nine is on his best behaviour.
“It’s a lovely draw provided he jumps well. We have seen he can play about a bit in the gates at times but, with a good break, he could be in the same spot he had at Kranji,” the jockey said. “He improved in his gallop on Sunday and he’s very well.”