Tough decision for Fownes after Lucky Nine's win
Trainer Caspar Fownes will weigh up skipping a Group One race he won last year against returning to the Middle East for a shot at redemption with Lucky Nine, after a clever ride from Brett Prebble delivered another top-level victory on the whole-hearted sprinter.
Lucky Nine put his rivals away with a sustained burst of speed to clinch his fourth Group One win in the Chairman's Sprint Prize at Sha Tin - leaving Fownes with a tough decision to make.
Last year Lucky Nine won the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup over what the trainer believes is his best distance - 1,400m - before heading to Dubai and storming home for an unlucky third in the US$2 million Golden Shaheen.
The Queen's Silver Jubilee is two weeks later this year (March 17) meaning Fownes won't be following the same path to the sprint on Dubai World Cup night (March 30), if he heads that way.
"He will have the distance in his favour if he runs over 1,400m, that's his best trip," Fownes said. "But I'll see how he comes out of this. If we want to go to Dubai, we won't go to the [Silver Jubilee].
"He is a great horse with a lot of heart and character and a joy to have in the stable. It was great to bring him back and have him right on the day. It's a race I've wanted to win for a while."
Prebble had won the Chairman's Sprint Prize twice previously on Sacred Kingdom and Absolute Champion, and some inside knowledge of one of his main rival contributed to him making a key tactical move after entering the straight.
Lucky Nine ended up one pair further back than Prebble had anticipated after striking some interference early on, and the jockey sensed he was being trailed by Frederick Engels (Weichong Marwing) - a horse on which he had previously won.
Rather than leaving himself a sitting shot for the young up-and-coming sprinter, Prebble utilised his horse's superior stamina to pinch a break and the win.
"I really put the foot down early, because I knew his stamina would kick in - more so than Frederick Engels, who has a very sharp turn of foot," he said. "I didn't want him getting up outside me and using that explosive last furlong sprint he has got. So I dragged him out a bit and it worked in my favour."
Frederick Engels was also on trial for a trip to Dubai, where Moore is desperate to run the four-year-old on the forgiving artificial surface at Meydan in the Golden Shaheen, and he again proved himself with a stellar Group One effort.
"I really want him to go on that Tapeta - we're of the opinion he will handle it, I know the horse's action and I just want him to bounce off it," said Moore, who saddled five of the nine runners in the race and trained second, third and fourth over the line, with Captain Sweet (Tim Clark) and Time After Time (Gerald Mosse) running solid races.
"We'll be looking to go to Singapore with Captain Sweet later in the year. He has got speed and if he draws a gate he will always pick up money," he said.
"Time After Time was a game fourth, but probably should've finished closer and was just held up at a crucial stage."