Lucky Sweynesse might be given the chance to extend a phenomenal season in search of a ninth victory after matching Beauty Generation’s record for the most wins in a single Hong Kong campaign with a dominant performance in the Gr3 Sha Tin Vase Handicap at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Posting his eighth win from 10 starts this season, and his sixth in a row, Lucky Sweynesse (135lb) powered to a comfortable one-and-a-quarter length victory over Victor The Winner despite conceding the runner-up 20lb, while clocking 1m 08.00s under Zac Purton.
Improving a stunning career record to 13 wins, two seconds and a third from 17 starts for Manfred Man, the prodigious four-year-old took his prize money earnings to HK$51,108,200 – and still might be given one more opportunity to snap the record for the most wins in a season the gelding now shares with Beauty Generation, who won all of his eight starts in 2018/19.
Man suggested Lucky Sweynesse – the world’s highest-rated sprinter – might attempt to add the G3 Premier Cup Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin on 25 June to a bulging list of 2022/23 credits, which already include Gr1 triumphs in the Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m), Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) and Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m).
“I need to discuss with the owner first, it’s too early to give an answer. I will look at the horse after the race. We will do the morning gallop to see how he feels. Now the weather is very hot, so I don’t want the horse to feel hot,” Man said of possible Premier Cup plans. “He is in really good form and I think maybe next season he can still improve a little bit.”
Purton said the solid tempo set by Victor The Winner and Sight Success played into Lucky Sweynesse’s hands as the favourite tracked the speed in third place until the home straight before angling out to settle the matter with a terminal charge inside the last 200m.
“Once he jumped as well he did, it made it easier and then with the extra pace in the race and with the weight on his back, it just allowed him to get into a nice rhythm and to come into the race when he was ready,” the Australian said.
“I looked after him for as long as I could and he did the rest. He’s turning into some horse. It was a pretty soft win. He’s something else, he’s starting to turn into a very, very good horse.”
Five-time Hong Kong Champion Jockey Purton said he is surprised by Lucky Sweynesse’s continued progress which has seen the strongly-built speedster advance from a rating of 98 to 130 before today’s race.
“The last three or four months, he’s improved so much it’s scary to think that with a break he might build up even more – I’m hoping that’s the case,” Purton said.
Lucky Sweynesse’s win sealed a black type double for Purton, who earlier won in the G3 Lion Rock Trophy Handicap (1600m) on Beauty Eternal for John Size as Lyle Hewitson continued a stellar season with a treble, striking with Colourful Prince, Sweet Briar and Golden Empire to take his season’s tally to 43 wins.
“It’s fantastic, things have picked up recently again to how we would like them – it’s been a little while between trebles, so it’s nice to get one again,” Hewitson said after his first Sha Tin three-timer, having last posted a treble at Happy Valley on 27 April, 2022.
“I had six rides today and I thought I would be very competitive. I thought I had one or two standout rides, so for three of the first four to come home, I’m ecstatic. Everything worked really well, we got luck in some of the races – to keep having winners, you do need the luck – and today it fell my way.”
Douglas Whyte and Hewitson combined successfully for the 14th time this season when Colourful Prince snared the Class 4 Sha Tin Hoi Handicap (1200m, dirt). Hewitson then twice teamed with Francis Lui to prevail on Sweet Briar in the Class 4 Fo Tan Handicap (1200m) and also atop Golden Empire in the Class 3 Kau To Shan Handicap (1200m).
Frankie Lor cut his deficit to Size in the trainers’ championship to eight – 66 to 58 – with a three-timer with Flamingo Trillion, Youthful Deal and A Pal to preserve hopes of successive trainers’ titles.
Flamingo Trillion slotted his second win in a row when victorious in the Class 4 Tolo Harbour Handicap (1400) under Derek Leung, Youthful Deal bolted in with the Class 2 Penfold Park Handicap (1200m, dirt) for Vincent Ho to claim a HK$1 million PPG Bonus and A Pal closed the meeting with a comfortable win in the second section of the Class 3 Shing Mun River Channel Handicap (1400m) for Leung.
Earlier, Brenton Avdulla notched his first Hong Kong win at his 50th attempt, piloting Man’s Go Go Sixteen to victory in the Class 4 Ma Liu Shui Handicap (1600m).
“Very exciting, I haven’t been too disheartened. I came here with really no expectations. There have riders who have come here with better credentials than me in the past and have struggled. Obviously, Hong Kong is a very tough jurisdiction and I’m very thankful for Manfred to give me an opportunity on a horse like this to get the job done,” Avdulla said.
Caspar Fownes-trained Storm Legend made it two wins in a row, sweeping along the inside for apprentice Ellis Wong to clinch the first section of the Class 3 Shing Mun River Channel Handicap (1400m).
Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday 7 June.