Brett Prebble doesn’t let Lucky Bubbles out of his sight at trackwork, let alone give another jockey a chance to ride him, so the jockey provides a strong point of reference when he says the gutsy sprinter has benefited by missing a mid-season trip to Dubai.
Prebble hasn’t just ridden Lucky Bubbles in each of his 15 career starts, the Australian jockey rides the five-year-old most mornings, whether it be a canter, gallop or trial – and even a trot around the small inner track on occasion.
Such long-standing jockey-horse relationships are rare in the cut-throat world of Hong Kong racing, but Prebble, who has ridden some of Hong Kong’s best sprinters in recent times, knows how hard it is to find a Group One contender.
“Hong Kong has become a place where you don’t just take a ride for granted anymore, it’s hard to get a good horse here and this type of combination rarely happens,” Prebble said. “I do everything on the horse, the last time I saw somebody else stick to a horse like this was Felix Coetzee and Silent Witness, and rightly so – you want to make sure you keep the good ones. I am good friends with the owners, he is a lovely horse to work with and I look forward to getting up in the mornings and going to ride him. Some mornings he is the only horse I get up to go and ride.”
After a Group Two win and three straight seconds to start the season, a trip to Meydan to contest either the US$1 million Al Quoz Sprint or US$2 million Golden Shaheen beckoned, but cooler heads prevailed and Lucky Bubbles is now primed for a shot at a second straight Group Two Sprint Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.
“What actually swung it towards staying at home was that the prizemoney,” Prebble said, with the HK$14 million Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize on May 7 the top priority for Lucky Bubbles’ connections. “We were looking at the 1,200m turf race [Al Quoz Sprint] and the money here in our own backyard is better. He is also still relatively inexperienced in straight races, so I think we made a smart move not to go. He is still a young, sound horse with a lot of years ahead of him. He isn’t a very robust horse, but that might help him stay sound as well.”
The poor runs of fellow Hong Kong-trained horses Amazing Kids in the Al Quoz and Not Listenin’tome in the Golden Shaheen probably vindicated the decision not to travel abroad and Lucky Bubbles has looked in tremendous order in two trials over the past three weeks.
“The break did him the world of good, he was definitely jaded after his second in the Hong Kong Sprint, that was probably a peak performance so he was entitled to a flat run after that. But his trial down the straight a few weeks back was as good as he can possibly go, he sat alongside Amazing Kids and made him look inferior. The next trial on the dirt was just to keep him ticking over but he did everything that was asked of him.”