The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
It has been a long time between drinks for Mighty Lucky but Irene and Frank Cowell are hoping for a late career return to form from the eight-year-old starting with the 2017 Festival Stakes at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
The Gosford-based Casino Prince gelding is one of a dozen summer gallopers in the mix for this season’s Group 3 $150,000 Festival Stakes (1500m), a race he won at his peak back in 2015.
That summer Mighty Lucky was on fire going on to win the Group 3 Summer Cup (2000m) on Boxing Day two runs later with a brave fifth to Happy Clapper in the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) sandwiched between.
All three of the same summer race targets are back on the agenda for the old warhorse this year, despite Mighty Lucky not having won since his Lord Mayor’s Cup victory at Doomben in May of last year.
He has placed in just two of his subsequent 14 runs with back-t-back seconds in Sydney earlier this preparation showing he still had a zest for racing.
At Rosehill on September 23 Mighty Lucky caught the eye as a $41 roughie when just a half-length off the winner Washington Heights in the Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m).
Next up the one-time summer star enjoyed another top two run when second to Sur Plush in a 1400m handicap at Royal Randwick.
Two more runs have followed between then and Festival Stakes Day, the galloper most recently running three lengths back fourth in the Listed Ladies Day Cup (1400m) at Hawkesbury on November 9.
Part-owner Irene Cowell, wife of the horse’s 77-year-old trainer Fred, believes Mighty Lucky is progressing nicely and could prove a nice value bet this weekend and beyond.
“He’s going along nicely and he’s as fit as we can get him for Saturday. He’s working well and he’s healthy,” she told AAP on Tuesday.
Mighty Lucky’s regular rider Chris O’Brien is happy to forgive the galloper’s luckless Hawkesbury run last time out and also rates him as a competitive chance over the coming weeks.
“He got screwed around probably five or six times,” O’Brien said.
“All his runs have been pretty good. He shot through in the Shannon like he was going to win it and he just ran into an in-form horse.”
It is a strong edition of the Festival Stakes on the weekend with entries from the likes of the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained November Handicap winner Cabeza De Vaca chasing win number six on the trot.
O’Brien though believes Mighty Lucky is tracking into the race in similar condition to that from his 2015 victory.
“He’s back in the same frame that he was when he was winning in town,” O’Brien said.
“Last year Fred could never quite get him right. We couldn’t find out what it was.”
The Festival Stakes 2017 field and odds from Ladbrokes.com.au are out on Wednesday.
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