In a startling assessment, Zac Purton believes Lucky Sweynesse is capable of further improvement as Hong Kong’s top-rated sprinter prepares to contest the HK$5 million Gr2 Sprint Cup at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The first is off at 06h30.
With five wins this season – including a pair of Group 1 triumphs – Manfred Man’s star galloper has soared from a mark of 98 to 130, two points higher than reigning Hong Kong Champion Sprinter Wellington, who also competes in Sunday’s feature.
Man is preparing Lucky Sweynesse for the HK$20 million Gr1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) at Sha Tin on 30 April and Purton contends the four-year-old has further scope to enhance a stunning record of 10 wins and three minor placings from 14 starts and HK$29,635,200 in prize money.
“The thing with Lucky Sweynesse is that we still don’t know where his ceiling is yet, he’s still improving. A lot of horses go through the ratings very quickly but he’s unassuming in the fact that he’s not quick out of the gates, you’ve got to ride him along to get a position and that was still the case last start,” Purton said.
“He certainly doesn’t help you from the gate and that’s always a concern with him because you don’t know what type of position you’re going to get. As well as that, what is his best distance? Is it 1200m, is it 1400m, could it be a mile? We’re still trying to work that out as well.
“He’s a gem to do anything with in the morning. He’s getting quieter and quieter, so much so that he wants to stand around at the track in the morning, having a look. I think he knows he’s above average and hopefully he can keep on winning.”
Purton reunites this weekend with Lucky Sweynesse after riding California Spangle into second place behind Lucky Sweynesse in the Gr1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) at Sha Tin on 19 March.
Lucky Sweynesse (128lb) and Wellington (128lb), a four-time G1 victor, must concede five pounds to five rivals – Courier Wonder (123lb), Cordyceps Six (123lb), Master Eight (123lb), Rewarding Together (123lb) and Whizz Kid (123lb).
John Size hopes the weight differential can advantage Courier Wonder, who was fourth behind Lucky Sweynesse and California Spangle in the Gr1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup.
“He’s been sound and his last few runs have been quite encouraging. He looks like he’s going to win a race. His last start over 1400m, he finished the race off nicely. The quinella horses were too strong for him but now back to 1200m, he might run on well pretty well and he might grab prizemoney again,” Size said.
The 11-time champion trainer is represented by veteran Waikuku and Running Glory in the HK$5 million G2 Chairman’s Trophy (1600m), where California Spangle will chase a fourth win for the season under Purton.
“Waikuku seems fine. He normally only lasts until the end of April and then he’s had enough but, at home, he’s been fine, he looks good, he’s trained well and he still seems happy to be in work. He’s not sour in any way so, hopefully, he’ll run a good race,” Size said of the three-time G1 winner.
“Running Glory is stepping up in grade sharply with his rating of 105 so he might as well run against the good ones and see how he measures up.”
California Spangle (128lb) concedes five pounds to seven rivals – Waikuku (123lb), Tourbillon Diamond (123lb), Beauty Joy (123lb), Money Catcher (123lb), Running Glory (123lb), Columbus County (123lb) and Healthy Happy (123lb).
Gr1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) winner California Spangle jumps from barrier two for trainer Tony Cruz and Purton retains telling confidence in the five-year-old.
“He’s certainly a very good horse and when he’s presented with the opportunity, he gets the job done,” the Australian said. “If you sit down and look at his numbers, his record (nine wins and seven minor placings from 16 starts for prize money of HK$52,718,300), he’s a serious horse.
“He’s just been overshadowed by a giant (Golden Sixty). I love riding him – he’s a great horse to ride, he’s a good horse to look at, he’s got a great racing style. He’s still got a fair bit of racing ahead of him. Obviously, he has to give the five-pound weight penalty to the other runners and that always even things up as well.
Sunday’s card kicks off with the Barker Plate for Griffins at 06h30.