Lucky Nine, third in the 2012 Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1), and making his first start in Hong Kong since May, took out the Longines Jockey Club Sprint (G2), the prep for the Longines Hong Kong Sprint (G1) on December 9, a race he won a year ago.
“He’s one of the top horses in Hong Kong,” trainer Caspar Fownes acclaimed post-race, “and I knew even at 85% he was going to be right there today. I said to Brett, under no circumstances should he punish him so he’s going to come on a lot from that.”
California Memory, 12th in the 2012 Dubai Duty Free (G1), was last turning for home in the Longines Jockey Club Cup (G2) before jockey Matthew Chadwick wheeled him across the field and found the narrowest of gaps, just getting home over Irian and 2012 Singapore Airlines International Cup second Zaidan.
“They went a bit hard up front which suited us but we were just running our own race and he finished the race off well enough to win,” said Chadwick. “He’s definitely improved for his last run and hopefully he’ll pull up sound, and we’ll be looking for the big one in December. He’s a small horse but he’s got the biggest heart!”
English commentator Darren Flindell called California Memory one-paced midway through the stretch, and it seemed an appropriate description at the time, the gray gelding dug in gamely to land a narrow win. All three are likely to run back in the Longines Hong Kong International Races, with the Hong Kong Cup over 2,000 metres the most likely destination.
Ambitious Dragon, seventh in the Dubai Duty Free, was second in the Longines Jockey Club Mile (G2), a prep for the Hong Kong Mile (G1), while Xtension, fifth in the Dubai Duty Free, held that same finishing positions in the Jockey Club Mile. John Size trainee Glorious Days earned a 1 1/2 length score, saving more ground than his favoured rival and catching a more advantageous split. Watch the race below.