Racing in Hong Kong lends the opportunity to dream big and when a horse wins by two and a half lengths on his debut, connections have plenty of cause for optimism.
Heading into the midweek meeting at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, there will be plenty of onlookers wondering if Lucky Sweynesse can confirm the lofty impression he gave when scooting away from his rivals to win on his first racecourse start last month.
Manfred Man Ka-Leung’s three-year-old was a well-supported second favourite when he exited the stalls under Zac Purton at the Valley just over a couple of weeks ago but things did not seem to go according to plan early.
Purton was forced to snatch his mount off heels twice inside the first 150m and then needed to show plenty of strength in the saddle to drive the galloper into a decent position on the rail just behind the front rank as the field made their way down the back straight.
Turning for home, Lucky Sweynesse was travelling conspicuously well behind the pace and Purton was forced to take a tug on the reins as his mount threatened to clip the heels of the leaders.
On top of a keen turn of foot, Purton’s mount showed bravery, guts and a great attitude to fight through a small gap on the rail to blitz his rivals and beat an in-form Spicy Grill with Purton standing up in the irons as he crossed the line.
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Man was delighted with that first-up performance and is hoping that there is more to come on Wednesday in the Class Three Baker Handicap (1,200m).
“He’s coming along OK and the jockey who rides him in trackwork is very happy with him,” said Man, referring to none other than Joao Moreira, who picks up the ride from Purton. “He’s doing everything fine and I hope he can run well again.”
Lucky Sweynesse was raised nine pounds for that impressive victory and now finds himself at the bottom of Class Three company, with his main opposition at the Valley looking to be a horse who is on the cusp of a jump to Class Two.
Toronado Phantom, who will be ridden by Purton, has not been sent off at odds bigger than $3.8 in his past six starts and was a clear-cut winner over the course and distance last time.
If Lucky Sweynesse does salute on Wednesday, he will have marked himself out as a horse to continue following.
Lucky Sweynesse is not the only debut winner attempting to follow up at the Valley with Gallant Waking out to remain unbeaten in the Class Four Chatham Handicap (1,200m).
Francis Lui Kin-wai’s runner caused a minor surprise when winning at odds of $16 over the course and distance, with the manner of the victory more than eye-catching.
From a bad draw in stall 11, Gallant Waking turned into the straight last under Vincent Ho Chak-Yiu before showing a tremendous turn of foot to pass every one of his rivals.
If he is to grab the chocolates once again he is going to have to beat Loriz, who got his head in front for the first time since May 2020 when making virtually all of the running over this course and distance last time.