Hong Kong superstar Lucky Nine has had their first official look at the notoriously tricky Moonee Valley circuit in Melbourne, the raider enjoying a winning jump-out at the track ahead of the 2013 Manikato Stakes Friday week.
The headline hopeful for this year’s $1 million Group 1 Sportingbet Manikato Stakes (1200m), due to run under the lights on October 25 the night before Cox Plate Day, the Caspar Fownes-trained champ showed they could handle the tight turns at the Valley in their gallop this morning.
Given a solid workout over the 1100 metres by the Hong Kong-based expat Aussie hoop Brett Prebble, the Dubawi gelding was the narrow winner of the run shading three rivals all from Lindsay Park Racing including Crackerjack King.
Working their way from the tail end of the group the six-year-old travelled well around the corner and got to the front just in time in a good look at the track.
Prebble was especially pleased with how the sprint star felt, describing their work as “super”, and said it was an exercise well worth the time, the horse needing the run with definite improvement to come.
“I actually pulled him out three-deep just to see if he changed his leg and he got on his right leg,” Prebble, who is Lucky Nine’s regular rider in Hong Kong, said.
“In Hong Kong he normally races the opposite way, but he’s a very versatile horse, he goes on any surface and he really took to here no problem.
“It was good to come and get him familiarised and have a good look around here.”
Fownes agreed that Lucky Nine, last seen winning the Group 1 KrisFlyer International Sprint (1200m) in Singapore by three lengths back in May, needed the hit-out and should come on well looking cherry ripe for their Manikato Stakes assignment for their big Australian debut.
“I’ve just let him come to Australia and let him find his feet and haven’t squeezed him, he’s only had the couple of gallops here, so we needed that today,” Fownes told springracingcarnival.com.au.
“He’s had a decent blow, but they strip a lot fitter once they’ve had that blow and next week after a little bit of work he should be just where we want to see him.”
All going to plan in the Manikato the international will continue onto the Melbourne Cup Carnival in the first week of November.
Their aim there will be on Emirates Stakes Day, Saturday November 9, in the $1 million Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) which is actually where punters will see them at their fittest according to Fownes.
“He’ll always be better for his second run because he’s been six months between races,” Fownes said.
“He’ll do something early next week and then we’ll go to the races and see how he performs first-up.
“We look forward to him running a really big race in his first race here and I think second-up is where we’ll see the real horse.”
Futures Manikato Stakes betting odds are led by the Mick Price-trained Samaready ($3.20) who has won both her starts this year including the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley last start.
Lucky Nine then occupies the second line of betting at a quote of $7 just ahead of the luckless Queensland hero Buffering ($8) and Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes winner last time out Rebel Dane ($9).
Patinack Farm Classic betting meanwhile has Chris Waller’s flying three-year-old Zoustar as the $5.50 favourite ahead of last Saturday’s impressive Schillaci Stakes winner Unpretentious ($7) and Lucky Nine ($7.50).
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