A bitter pill to swallow
Hong Kong's raiders had to bite down on the bitter pill of fortune for the second-year running in the Centaur Stakes at Hanshin racecourse in Osaka yesterday, with Caspar Fownes again a desperate second with Lucky Nine, and stablemate Green Birdie disqualified to second-last after causing interference on the home turn.
'I feel like I've been gelded,' said Fownes, when a brilliant Prebble ride on Lucky Nine was deserving of a better fate before the nose second behind local filly A Shin Virgo, with last year's Centaur winner, Dasher Go Go, a remarkable third after a horror wide run.
Fownes' other runner, Green Birdie ran on to be fourth only half-a-length behind Dasher Go Go, but lost the HK$847,000 in stakemoney when he was demoted to second-last of the 15 runners for the home turn scrimmage.
Jockey Tye Angland was handed a suspension by the Japanese stewards, which will commence after Wednesday night's Happy Valley card and be completed on September 25.
Hanshin doesn't seem to be Green Birdie's course, or Fownes', as he was the unlucky second last year in the Centaur, while Lucky Nine did everything but win the race and the HK$6 million first prize yesterday.
Prebble was outstanding, taking Lucky Nine back from a wide alley, then threading his way through the field, only to find that room ran out at a key moment in the straight as he was making his charge into a gap on the outside of A Shin Virgo.
Prebble was forced to switch back to the inside, where he found clear room and Lucky Nine found the post strongly but just too late to claw back the filly.
'He ran a blinder,' said Fownes. 'Brett gave him a peach of a ride from that gate. But it's very hard to take, and so frustrating, particularly with Birdie losing fourth.
'Looking on the positive side though, they both pulled up really nicely and we'll see how they come on from this before we make a decision about the Sprinters Stakes next month.
'In the end it was just the weight penalty that beat Lucky Nine this time conceding the winner nine pounds and he won't have that in the Sprinters.'
The Group One Sprinters Stakes, worth almost HK$10 million to the winner, will be run at Nakayama racecourse in Tokyo on October 2.