Caspar Fownes fixing to extend fortune with Lucky Nine
Hong Kong trainer is formulating plan to take tilt at Global Sprint Challenge in bid to break Japan hoodoo
Lucky Nine will head back to Japan at the start of next season hoping to collect a second leg of the Global Sprint Challenge and break his frustrating run of misfortune there following another sensational win in Singapore on Sunday night.
Straight after the seven-year-old spaced his rivals in the KrisFlyer International Sprint for the second successive year, trainer Caspar Fownes was already formulating plans to return to Japan.
The Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama on October 5, a race Lucky Nine has contested twice previously, looms as the obvious target for the seven-time Group One winner.
"He deserves one last crack over there," Fownes said. "I'm keen to go back to Japan because we have been so unlucky there."
Lucky Nine is a proven overseas competitor and, even though he has performed well in Japan, he has had his share of trouble.
In 2011, he was beaten a head in the Centaur Stakes, before finishing fifth in the Sprinters Stakes after being blocked for a run late.
In the same race 12 months later, Lucky Nine missed the start and ran on for fifth, beaten less then two lengths by a rampant Lord Kanaloa, who ran a track record time.
"We haven't been able to win a race there, but it's not like he hasn't run well. He has run some absolute bottlers," Fownes said.
"The day they ran a track record, his half-mile sectionals were incredible."
Hong Kong's other hero on the night, John Moore's Singapore Airlines International Cup winner Dan Excel, will head home for a well-deserved rest ahead of next season.
His trainer is scuttling speculation the tough gelding may press on with a late entry for Royal Ascot or next month's Yasuda Kinen in Japan.
Moore reported that reigning Horse of the Year Military Attack, third as favourite to his stablemate, had some other factors against him other than working early from a wide draw.
"Military Attack got galloped on behind and lost his off hind shoe, and we had to get the blacksmith in to get it back on, with a little bit of hoof repair," Moore said.
"Other than that, he pulled up well and got back into his feed."
Sterling City will also stay at home for the rest of the season and be freshened for next term after his fifth - Moore insisting there was nothing amiss with the classy five-year-old.
"I think it was the barrier that beat Sterling City more than anything else.
"The overall picture with his blood counts and the way he ate up suggest he was fine, but getting across from gate 10 took it out of him" Moore said.
"Joao Moreira gave Sterling City and Military Attack gems of rides from their gates - any trainer or owner would be giving him a pat on the back for those efforts."
Sunday's win gave Lucky Nine one leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, and a win in the Sprinters Stakes would set up a US$1 million windfall for connections if Lucky Nine were to then clinch the Longines Hong Kong Sprint in December.