Jockey Brett Prebble says Lucky Bubbles’ tractability is the key to his Group One Hong Kong Classic Mile chances as the relatively unheralded prospect faces rivals that have dominated in sprints, but are stepping up to the mile for the first time.
None of the top four-rated horses in the HK$10 million race for four-year-olds have competed at the distance previously, including Lucky Bubbles, but Prebble and trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai believe their horse won’t have any problems adapting to the slower tempo of a Sha Tin mile.
“He is a nice horse heading in the right direction but one of the best things about him is that he helps himself in a race, he doesn’t over-race,” Prebble said. “He put in an enormous effort over 1,400m last time and he certainly wasn’t weak on the line.”
Lui agreed that Lucky Bubbles’ relaxed racing manners would hold him in good stead, saying; “He is an easy horse to control and I think he will handle this distance – I’m not worried about him staying a mile,” the trainer also pointing to his horse’s pedigree as encouraging ahead of the distance test.
The chestnut gelding is a son of 2008 Golden Slipper winner Sebring, whose best progeny, namely Australian-trained Group One winners Criterion and Dissident, have shown a surprising propensity to win middle-distance events.
Lucky Bubbles has flown under the radar this season compared to some of his more fancied rivals but is rated 102 after winning two from three this term, behind only John Size-pair Thewizardofoz and Sun Jewellery, and ahead of Ricky Yiu Poon-fai’s Blizzard.
“I don’t think any of that group look like 2,000m horses at this stage – they all look like sprinter-milers to my eye,” Prebble said.
Likely race favourite Thewizardofoz trialled poorly without blinkers last month, the headgear stayed on for his last-start win and Size has stuck with shades again for 1,600m.
Prebble, who will have to navigate his way from a tricky barrier, 11, said a stop-start, or just plain slow, tempo could work in his favour.
“Thewizardofoz does travel in a relaxed manner for Joao [Moreira], but he can get on the chewy and if it is a slowly run race it could be his undoing,” he said. “Maybe they’ll take the blinkers off him one day, but looking at him, he can be quite keen, and that would certainly help us out.”
Having not raced since international day nearly six weeks ago, when a meritorious third behind Sun Jewellery, Lucky Bubbles trialled well over 1,200m last week.
“He won’t be getting beaten because of fitness,” Prebble said. “He is a lightly framed horse and very clean-winded – we’ve just kept him ticking over and he is a very happy horse. We gave him a gallop on the grass during the week and that topped him off.”
Meanwhile, globetrotting jockeys Craig Williams and Christophe Soumillon will ride in Group One races at Sha Tin next Sunday.
Williams will partner Tony Cruz-trained Multivictory in the Group One Stewards’ Cup, with Soumillon to take the reins on Richard Gibson’s Giant Treasure in the same race and Gold-Fun in the Centenary Sprint Cup.