Trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai wants to see how Group One winning sprinter Lucky Bubbles comes through his next trial before confirming a trip to Japan for the Sprinters Stakes.
The gelding put in a solid effort when fifth in a 1,050m barrier trial on Sha Tin’s all-weather track on Tuesday morning, slow early before finishing off reasonably well.
Lucky Bubbles has been entered for the 1,200m Group One at Nakayama on September 30, with Brett Prebble booked to ride, but Lui will keep his options open until he has another hit-out in a couple of weeks.
“That was his first trial and it was a bit short for him – he’s now a seven-year-old,” the trainer said.
“But I’m happy with how he is coming along, he hit the line well. Everything is prepared [for the trip to Japan] and we will see how he is after his next trial.”
Lucky Bubbles enjoyed the biggest win of his career when he captured the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize in May 2017, but he could not recapture that form last season.
He did finish the term on a positive note though, with a third to California Whip in the Group Three Premier Cup (1,400m), encouraging connections to push on.
The decision to target Japan is a practical one, given there is no stand-out sprinter there and Lucky Bubbles cannot quite match the elite ones in Hong Kong – the likes of Ivictory, Mr Stunning and D B Pin – but still carries a high rating of 121.
“Japan is really the only option for us, because John Size’s horses are very strong and at the moment with his rating, he can’t compete with them,” Lui said. “He has a better chance of winning a race over there.”
Meanwhile, it is all systems go for Fight Hero’s assault on the Korea Sprint (1,200m) this weekend.
The Me Tsui Yu-sak-trained gelding arrived in Seoul last Thursday to prepare for the KRW700 million (HK$4.9 million) contest on the sand.
Derek Leung Ka-chun is making the trip to South Korea for the ride, while the Jockey Club has announced it will be simulcasting the race for betting during Sunday’s meeting at Sha Tin.
The seven-year-old is trying to follow in the footsteps of Tony Millard’s Super Jockey, who won the inaugural running of the race for Hong Kong in 2016.