Trying times for Fownes and unlucky Lucky Nine
One of these days everything is going to work out ideally for Lucky Nine and he's going to make one of the big overseas races look easy - trainer Caspar Fownes is making clear inroads into the thatch on his head, tearing it out every time something goes wrong.
If it isn't bad gates, it's interference in races or it's his feet. Just when Fownes thought he had Lucky Nine in perfect shape, the gelding missed a trial after not eating up, then got back in the swing only to do some damage to his feet at the trials last week. Lucky Nine has already won three Group Ones, despite having rarely had things just so, and it would be no surprise if he won another in the Sprinters' Stakes, but it never seems to happen the easy way.
He flies to Tokyo next week, while the Danny Shum Chap-shing-trained Little Bridge left yesterday for the same race, with each trainer trying to stick to his own game plan.
Shum wanted to replicate his relatively early arrival in England prior to the King's Stand Stakes win. Fownes would have loved the horses to go together, as Lucky Nine loves company, but arriving so early was a departure from the horse's past practice. Either way, they form the best chance Hong Kong has had of taking the Sprinters' Stakes since Silent Witness seven years ago.