Zac Purton concedes Lucky Sweynesse faces a significant challenge at Sha Tin on Sunday (4 June) when the champion sprinter tackles the G3 Sha Tin Vase Handicap (1200m) attempting to match Beauty Generation’s record of eight victories in a season.
Manfred Man’s star will contest his 10th race in a campaign which started with victory in the Class 1 HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup Handicap (1200m) on the opening day of the season on 11 September and subsequently blossomed with three Group 1 triumphs – the Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m), the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) and the Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m).
If successful on Sunday, Lucky Sweynesse will match Beauty Generation’s tally of eight wins in the 2018/19 season.
Purton has been aboard in five of Lucky Sweynesse’s victories this term and rates his last-start G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize performance as the finest of the gelding’s stunning season – while also regarding this Sunday’s challenge as his most daunting.
“I think last start was probably his best performance. He was very dominant in that race, he got himself into the right spot and took care of the field pretty comfortably,” Purton said before assessing the HK3.9 million G3 Sha Tin Vase Handicap, a race he previously won aboard Gallant Lion (2009), Aerovelocity (2014), Winner’s Way (2018), Little Giant (2019) and Thanks Forever (2020).
“Lucky Sweynesse has got to carry a big weight (135lb) and give a lot of weight away to some quite promising horses, so it’s a big ask for him here at the end of a long season but we hope he can do it one more time.
“He’s had a terrific season. He hasn’t done anything wrong. The only time he’s been beaten is when he’s been unlucky. He’s turned up every time and we hope he can do it again.
“It’s not going to be easy, there’s no doubt about that. It’s an interesting race but he’s drawn well (barrier three), there’s a bit of speed so he should get the right run and he’s a big horse – he can carry the weight – it’s just a matter of whether he can give the weight away to the younger horses coming through.”
Lucky Sweynesse has to concede weight to all seven of his rivals – Sight Success (125lb), Courier Wonder (121lb), Cordyceps Six (115lb), Master Eight (115lb), Rewarding Together (115lb), Victor The Winner (115lb) and Ima Single Man (115lb).
Purton, who has twice won on Victor The Winner, believes Danny Shum’s emerging speedster will present a formidable obstacle under Karis Teetan.
“Victor The Winner has run good time in some of his races, he’s drawn the perfect gate (barrier one), Karis is very good on some of these horses who like to lead and use their speed. He’s got good hands, good balance and Victor The Winner gets in with no weight on his back. He’s run very fast time, so he’s going be very hard to catch.”
Hugh Bowman hopes Beauty Joy can land a second G3 Lion Rock Trophy Handicap (1600m) despite having to shoulder 135lb – 14lb more than he carried in last season’s victory – after his excellent second to Golden Sixty in the G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin on 30 April.
“Beauty Joy has been racing against the supreme horses here in Hong Kong and he finds a race now where it’s probably a fair drop in class for him but he’s carrying top weight and giving a fair bit of weight to some pretty decent opposition,” Bowman said.
“Whether he can overcome the handicap is yet to be seen, but he’s certainly in good form.
“If we can get a nice, consistent flowing tempo, I’m sure you’ll see the best of him. It’s not like he over-races, but he’s got a particularly light mouth and as soon as you put the bit in it, he doesn’t react well so it’s a matter of trying to flow with him and get into a nice rhythm with him and, if we can succeed in doing that, he will be strong late.
“I would prefer it at set weights but we’ll see what we can do.”
Sunday’s (4 June) 10-race card starts with the Class 4 Ma Liu Shui Handicap (1600m) at 4pm.
– News from Hong Kong Jockey Club