Hong Kong Mile

Fownes sees Lucky Nine as key to riches

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 December, 2011, 12:00am


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Caspar Fownes' team for International Day are down one player after the withdrawal of miler Fair Trade, but the trainer is still upbeat on his chances of success tomorrow, in particular with sprint star Lucky Nine.

Fair Trade was scratched from the HK$20 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile after appearing rough in his action yesterday, leaving Fownes with two runners each in the Sprint and Vase.

'Fair Trade was just falling away a bit and feeling a leg injury, so we had to take him out and medicate him,' Fownes said.

Fownes' Lucky Nine and Green Birdie contest their first domestic race of the term in the HK$14 million Hong Kong Sprint after a cursed early season trip to Japan.

Lucky Nine was a desperately unlucky second in the Centaur Stakes and was nearly slammed through the running rail when looming ominously in the Sprinters Stakes, where he finished fifth to Curren Chan, a rival tomorrow.

Since returning from Japan looking worse for wear, Fownes said the four-year-old Group One winner had regained full health, as proven by an impressive recent trial and strong trackwork since. 'We're hopeful of a very big showing. It's a very open race and he is right among the chances. He is spot on,' Fownes said.

Brett Prebble will be looking for cover from barrier six on Lucky Nine, while Green Birdie (Tye Angland) is drawn more favourably in four and Fownes believed he would go around over the odds.

'He worked outstanding the other day, full of zest and ran 21-something for his last 400m,' he said. 'The draw will help him and he might just run a cheeky race at 100-1.'

Thumbs Up (Brett Prebble) will be on trial for a Cups campaign in Melbourne next year if he can measure up in the Vase, with Fownes desperate to race Down Under after previously campaigning horses in Japan, Singapore and Dubai.

The 2008 Classic Mile winner is in top form, coming off a flashing third in the Sha Tin Trophy, followed by a barnstorming victory in the Jockey Club Cup.

Fownes stressed that stretching the seven-year-old to 2,400 metres wasn't simply to avoid Ambitious Dragon and Cirrus des Aigles in the Cup. 'The trip is not a concern at all. He will stay all day,' Fownes said. 'It's a great chance to find out how good he is against some top horses. If he can mix it with them, then we can think about taking him overseas - I would love to go to Melbourne and set him for a Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup.

'I've always wanted to take a horse to Australia. My wife is an Aussie girl and I have a lot of Australian friends.'

The injury-plagued Super Satin (Oliver Doleuze) hasn't won since his Derby victory last year, but joins Thumbs Up in the Vase after encountering trouble when fifth in the Jockey Club Cup. 'His last two runs have been finally showing us a glimmer of hope,' Fownes said. 'Stretching him to 2,400m is not a problem. That injury has hindered his performance, but he is really starting to toughen up.'