Lucky Sweynesse produced a fine weight-carrying performance in the Chinese Club Challenge Cup (1,400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday to bounce back from his Hong Kong Sprint horror show last month and take out the first Group race of the new year.
The four-year-old galloper was burdened with 135 pounds in the Group Three Chinese Club Challenge Cup, but that did not prevent punters from parting with their hard-earned cash as Lucky Sweynesse was backed into $1.60, and his supporters never had a moment’s worry, with champion jockey Zac Purton keeping things simple.
With just six runners in the field, Purton got Lucky Sweynesse into a perfect position behind Healthy Happy and had the luxury of being able to look over his shoulder after turning into the straight with his mount still on the bridle, the beaten Group One Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m) favourite kicking clear to beat the pacesetter by a length and a quarter.
Purton did not have to catch much breath after Lucky Sweynesse’s bloodless victory and was thrilled with the youngster’s win given the impost.
“It was pretty painless – it always looked that way pre-race,” Purton said.
“He was sluggish from the gates and took about 50m to get into his stride, but once he did, he was just in a lovely spot – the rhythm of the race suited him. I just looked after him, and with the weight, it was a nice effort.”
Trainer Manfred Man Ka-leung was also pleased with Lucky Sweynesse’s performance and felt the small field played to his stable star’s strengths.
“We were very lucky with this race there were only six runners,” Man said. “Drawing barrier six was good for him as it was on the outside, and he could just jump and go. Healthy Happy was drawn inside and he goes from the front, so it was good for him.”
Man is due to retire at the end of the current campaign unless the Jockey Club affords him an extra season, but if he is to sign off he has saved his best horse for last, with Lucky Sweynesse’s statistics reading eight victories from 12 starts and almost HK$16 million in prize money.
Last term’s champion griffin, Lucky Sweynesse has continued his progress this term, although it all went wrong for him and Purton in the Hong Kong Sprint on December 11 when no run presented itself in the straight, and they finished an unlucky sixth behind Wellington and Ryan Moore in the highest-profile dash on the city’s calendar.
With the Centenary Sprint Cup on February 5 only five weeks away, it will not be long before Lucky Sweynesse gets another chance to compete at the highest level.
“His last run [in the Hong Kong Sprint], he didn’t get chance to race,” Man said. “One hundred per cent, he is [the best I’ve trained]. He just keeps improving and how good, I can’t give you the answer at the moment because he still has the chance to improve. With this rating he has many options, but we’ll go the February sprint.”