Zac Purton believes Lucky Sweynesse is poised to improve significantly in the Gr2 Premier Bowl Handicap at Kranji on Sunday 22 October but is wary of race tactics which might again favour Victor The Winner in the HK$ 5.35 million feature.
Danny Shum’s Victor The Winner condemned Lucky Sweynesse to only the fifth defeat of the champion sprinter’s glittering career in the Class 1 HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup Handicap on 10 September.
Although there is a narrowing of the weight differential this weekend, Lucky Sweynesse again shoulders 135lb under Purton, while Victor The Winner carries 118lb for Karis Teetan, Purton respects Victor The Winner’s ability to control the pace before reeling off slick closing sectionals.
“Well, we meet Victor The Winner slightly better at the weights, but it’s a smaller field this time,” Purton said. “Victor The Winner is not going to have any pressure, so if he runs home in 21.40 seconds again, he’s going to be hard to catch.
“I thought Lucky Sweynesse ran really well on the last start. He couldn’t have done any more than what he did. He was on a yielding track that doesn’t really suit him, he was first-up for the season, he had to give a lot of weight away and, at the end of the day, the winner ran home in 21.40 seconds.
“It’s very hard to give any horse a start and think you’re going to catch them under those circumstances.
“Lucky Sweynesse is certainly getting better, his action is becoming more fluent, he’s handling his work a little bit better. He’s not at his best yet, he’s going to work his way towards that, he just needs racing like a lot of these horses and he’s quite a strong horse, so when he gets to step out on race day and gets the competition into him, he’s going to continue to improve.”
With eight wins in the 2022/23 season, Lucky Sweynesse suffered defeat only twice in a magnificent campaign which featured three Gr1 triumphs. One of those losses came when runner-up to Wellington in the Premier Bowl.
Manfred Man’s flagbearer will face other four rivals on Sunday apart from Victor The Winner, including Sight Success (121lb), Duke Wai (117lb), Stoltz (117lb) and Adios (115lb), as he prepares for the Gr2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin on 19 November.
Leading Purton 18-16 in the Hong Kong jockeys’ championship, Hugh Bowman will attempt to building on a flourishing partnership with David Hall this weekend.
Bowman has taken 10 rides for Hall this season for four wins and three minor placings and takes the reins on Northern Beast and Invincible Sage, who resumes in the Class 3 Hong Kong China’s Asian Games Medallists Cup Handicap.
A three-time winner for Jerome Hunter as a two-year-old in Australia where he was known as Thron Bone, Invincible Sage closed his debut season for Hall with consecutive third placings.
“He was very good last season. Coming back to start this season off at the same course and distance, it would have been nice to draw the middle of the pack but we’ve come up with barrier one, so we’ll just him in behind the front runners and get into a good rhythm and see how he can finish for us,” Bowman said.
“We’re very confident of a forward showing and he looks to me that he’s strengthened up a little bit, matured physically so I think we can see a stronger product than what we had last year. He’s ready to run a very good race.”
Reflecting on his liaison with Hall, Bowman said: “We’ve had a great association since my arrival almost 12 months ago now and he’s been an almost constant flow of support and it’s been nice to deliver some nice winners for him and hopefully it continues.”
Bowman rode 11 winners and 21 placings from 81 rides for Hall last season.
Sunday’s 10-race card kicks off at Sha Tin with the Class 5 Contract Bridge Handicap (1400m) at 07h00.