Lucky Nine shines brightly among stars at Sha Tin
Lucky Nine looks in ominous form heading into next Saturday's Golden Shaheen after he trialled successfully in blinkers yesterday at Sha Tin, on a morning when Hong Kong's Dubai-bound middle-distance contenders had their final hit-outs before departing and Sacred Kingdom turned back the clock in an energetic turf trial.
Trainer Caspar Fownes is hoping the addition of blinkers can sharpen his sprint star up as he drops back from a grinding 1,400m win in the Queen's Silver Jubilee, to the 1,200m scramble on the Tapeta.
Regular rider Brett Prebble had the 2011 Hong Kong Sprint winner under a throttle-hold in a 1,050m all-weather track trial, the competitive gelding clearly keen to get on with things as he was held up on the inside of horses.
The main concern for Fownes was how the horse would be affected by the gear changes pre-race, but those fears were allayed when he remained calm and entered the starting gates without incident.
Sacred Kingdom showed there might be some life left in his eight-year-old legs yet with a spritely front-running display in a star-studded first heat. Trainer Rickey Yiu Poon-fai said he would limit the four-time reigning Sprinter of the Year to 1,000m races from now on after consecutive failures at 1,200m.
Next Sunday's Bauhinia Sprint Trophy is Sacred Kingdom's next opportunity at the distance, a 90+ handicap in which he will come of a rating of 122, a five-year low.
Judging by his strong performance over the same course, ahead of the Dubai Duty Free-bound trio Ambitious Dragon, California Memory and Xtension, the powerful sprinter could burst back into prominence.
Gerald Mosse didn't have to push hard to get Sacred Kingdom to lead and he went about his work with plenty of vigour, which is surprising, given the gelding's tendency to get lazy and wait for his opposition in trials.
Ambitious Dragon closed off strongly, California Memory showed he is over his joint soreness with a energetic workout and Xtension wasn't asked to do much but travelled nicely.