Acknowledging the magnitude of the challenge of competing against the world’s top-rated sprinter Lucky Sweynesse, Pierre Ng hopes his three starters – Duke Wai, Taj Dragon and Super Wealthy – can defy expectations in the HK$13 million Gr1 Centenary Sprint Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Conceding his trio faces a monumental task to upstage Lucky Sweynesse, Ng nevertheless is keen to add even more lustre to an already phenomenal season with an unmatched 45 wins – 14 more than nearest rival Francis Lui in the Hong Kong trainers’ championship.
Ng, 40, celebrated his first black type victory in Hong Kong on 1 January when Taj Dragon won the Gr3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup Handicap and the ambitious second-season handler is eager to add loftier spoils.
“Hopefully, getting more and more runners going to those races like these (Group 1s) – I want to try my luck,” Ng said. “Taj Dragon, the distance might be a little bit short and I’m just hoping for a good run from him. Of course, the top sprinter (Lucky Sweynesse) is there and it’s a bit difficult.
“So, we’re looking for a good run from Taj Dragon and getting ready for the 1400m race (Gr1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup) next month (10 March).
“Duke Wai and Super Wealthy, we’re hoping for good runs. We’ll see if they can get something out of it.”
Ng’s trio faces 10 rivals in the Centenary Sprint Cup, including Lucky Sweynesse, Wellington, Sight Success, Courier Wonder, Lucky With You, Victor The Winner, Packing Treadmill, Whizz Kid, Flying Ace and Son Pak Fu, with each runner assigned 126lb.
Seeking his second win in the race, Lucky Sweynesse jumps from barrier five under Zac Purton, while Ng’s charges are spread across the line with Super Wealthy in barrier one, Taj Dragon in gate eight and Duke Wai in the outside alley of 13.
Manfred Man is confident Lucky Sweynesse has retained the form which saw the gelding convincingly land the Gr1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint on 10 December.
“Of course, in the ratings, he’s the best horse and with a good draw, he would be a very good chance,” Man said. “His form is okay, no problem. He helps me a lot, the horse.”
The Centenary Sprint Cup is the first leg of the Hong Kong Speed Series, which also includes the HK$13 million Gr1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup on 10 March and the HK$22 million Gr1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize on 28 April.
Sunday’s 10-race card at Sha Tin starts with the Class 4 Fu Tai Handicap at 07h00.