Lucky Nine fit and well for Silver Jubilee Cup
Caspar Fownes knows he is taking an alternative route to the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby with star galloper Lucky Nine, but is hoping he can pick up the HK$6million Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (1,400m) on Sunday on the way.
The Group One final leg of the Hong Kong Speed series is an unusual assignment for Lucky Nine on the way to 2,000m in a fortnight's time, especially after the four-year-old's most recent assignment was at 1,800m in the Classic Cup.
'Well, I'm trying to show off my abilities as a trainer,' laughed Fownes, who is double handed with the brittle but talented Fair Trade. 'But seriously, Lucky Nine has bounced back well from second in the Classic Cup and we know he's such a good horse at 1,400m-1600m and there's no reason why he shouldn't run in this. He's fit and it isn't going to hurt him and I think he has to run well from the lovely draw he's got.'
While Fownes had said after the Classic Cup the Derby was absolutely on the schedule for Lucky Nine, he was more circumspect yesterday.
'The owners are very keen to run in the Derby and, of course, he has the rating to run but they have essentially left it up to me,' Fownes said. 'We still have a couple of weeks to the race and we'll see what happens this Sunday and again in the lead-up to the Derby after that and we'll make a decision when we have to.'
For Fair Trade - who has had just six starts in over 18 months and only one run this season when second at Sha Tin in December - Fownes' thoughts are very much on the Champions Mile late next month.
'You could almost say this race is a HK$6 million barrier trial,' Fownes said. 'He really does need a race before the Champions Mile and if he happened to win then so much the better and he's always capable of springing a surprise.'