Exciting Lucky Nine can get his season off to a flier
If the previous 13 runnings of the HKSAR Chief Executive's Cup (1,200m) can tell us anything, it is that the first feature of the season has been almost exclusively owned by the light-weighted improver - and Caspar Fownes-trained Lucky Nine fits that bill today.
Only Fownes-trained The Duke has won the Chief Executive's Cup with significant weight, carrying 130 pounds to victory in 2004, with nine of the 13 race winners having carried less than 120 pounds.
A number of those lightly weighted winners were horses on the rise and served noticed in their Chief Executive's Cup win that they would become regular players in the Group races and Lucky Nine (Brett Prebble) is cut of that cloth, too. The three-year-old has won three of his six runs and is yet to miss a place, but more importantly, he has won three of his four runs since a gelding operation in April.
That defeat came when Lucky Nine missed the start, then found Entrapment too good in June on the all-weather, but in his turn he has had the better of some smart types in Let Me Fight, St Didar and Enriched in his three victories.
Lucky Nine may stretch to a mile as he matures, but his 1,400m win last start in July suggested he is still probably well suited at this stage over 1,200m.
The bay moved nicely in a quiet trial effort up the straight last weekend without being asked for much, and vital to his chances should be his tactical ability. Lucky Nine has been prominent in all his races, which should allow Prebble to camp on the lead. The pace looks to lie with the John Size-trained lightweights, Shining Victory (Kevin Leung Ka-wai) and Tuscan Spirit (Zac Purton), despite their wider draws, but hard-pulling Sunny Golf (Derek Leung Ka-chun) has the potential to add something to the tempo as well.
Michael Chang Chun-wai saddles up Amigo (Jeff Lloyd) and he looks the main danger to Lucky Nine, despite a wide draw.
Amigo won his only run in New Zealand, was a debut winner here and was unlucky at his only other attempt first-up on opening day last season.
He should be unbeaten in his three attempts fresh and will be running on well in the final stages.
Caspar Fownes finished second to John Size last season with this many winners: 66