Caspar Fownes has confirmed Group One-winning sprinter Lucky Nine will head to Australia in October for a two-run campaign and return in time for December's Longines Hong Kong Sprint, rather than return to Japan for the early season foray he has favoured for the last two years.
Having won Group Ones at home and abroad, Fownes says everything Lucky Nine achieves from now on is a bonus and the time is right to head to the Melbourne Spring Carnival - at the same time fulfilling a long-held personal ambition for the trainer.
Speaking with local media after Helene Spirit's disappointing 16th in the Yasuda Kinen, Fownes said Lucky Nine would not be back for a third straight Sprinters Stakes, and later revealed details of his ambitious Australian plan.
"He will go to the Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley on October 26, and then on to the straight six at Flemington on November 9 [Patinack Farm Classic] - and there will still be time to come back for international day at home," Fownes said.
"I've wanted to go there for a few years now, but it comes at the wrong time for us because we look forward to our international races - but he's already won one of them, so we can play around with him there.
"He is in great form - you can be confident to travel with him, you're not going to get any egg on your face. He doesn't know how to run a bad race, the only time he ever runs a bad race is when there is a problem with him."
Last month Lucky Nine added the KrisFlyer Sprint at Kranji to his résumé, which includes the 2011 Hong Kong Sprint among his four Group Ones won at home. The KrisFlyer Sprint is part of the Global Sprint Challenge and if Lucky Nine were triumphant in the Patinack Farm Classic, he would then be chasing a US$1 million bonus in the international day sprint for winning challenge races in three different countries.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong Jockey Club Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges says he will be doing all he can to ensure last year's Hong Kong Sprint winner Lord Kanaloa returns to Sha Tin for what could be a history-making tilt at the Hong Kong Mile.
Lord Kanaloa's barnstorming victory in Sunday's Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo Racecourse dispelled doubts the horse could run a strong 1,600m and the Sha Tin feature now looms as a distinct possibility.
The five-year-old's trainer Takayuki Yasuda called the Hong Kong Mile a very attractive option, and said Lord Kanaloa would run in the Sprinters Stakes (September 29) followed by the Mile Championship at Kyoto on November 17 in the lead-up to international day.
That plan is contingent on the approval of the horse's owners though, and Engelbrecht-Bresges was quick to track them down post-race.
"I have talked to the owners and hopefully I have convinced them to come to the Hong Kong Mile. It would be great if he came," Engelbrecht-Bresges said.
"That was an absolutely smashing performance - this is a super horse. It would be a record, the first time a horse could win then Hong Kong Sprint and then the Hong Kong Mile. We need international stars, and he is definitely one - a top world-class 1,200m sprinter, and a world-class miler."