Lucky Sweynesse collected his second Group 1 crown in as many starts at Sha Tin this afternoon (Sunday, 19 March) as he reeled in a brave California Spangle to lift the HK$12 million G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m).
Ridden by fly-in rider James McDonald for trainer Manfred Man, Lucky Sweynesse broke cleanly against four rivals to settle second in the running behind California Spangle.
Lucky Sweynesse stalked California Spangle throughout the contest before taking over with 200m left to run, prevailing by one and a quarter lengths in 1m 21.12s with last year’s winner Wellington filling third position.
“He’s a pretty straightforward sort of horse, he’s got a great mind to him. He was quick into momentum and we had a perfect trailing position behind California Spangle and he got a lovely tag into the race from the 500 (metre mark) onwards and it felt like a drag race home,” McDonald said.
The four-year-old landed the first leg of Hong Kong’s Speed Series – the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) – in February at his most recent outing before today and with victories in the first two legs, connections will land a HK$5 million bonus if successful in April’s G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) – the third and final leg of the Speed Series.
“What makes him so talented is that he’s not only a very fast horse but he can sustain the speed over seven furlongs, which not many sprinters can do, so he’s got a great attribute of conserving energy and building into a race like a pretty good horse,” McDonald said.
Lucky Sweynesse is a now a 10-time winner from 14 starts in Hong Kong. His earnings sit at a mouthwatering HK$29.63 million after securing his third win over 1400m today.
“He’s just four years old, he still can improve. I just told the jockey, sit off the pace and in the last 200 (metres), I think we can catch him up,” Man said.
Looking to future targets with Lucky Sweynesse, Man indicated the Chairman’s Sprint Prize as the immediate goal next month at Sha Tin on FWD Champions Day (30 April).
“At this moment, we’re looking for another 1200 metre Group 1 race. After that race, we’re thinking about the distance for him. We will be (looking to take him overseas). Maybe June, Japan race,” Man said.
The G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) takes place on 4 June at Tokyo in Japan. It has been won by Fairy King Prawn (2000) and Bullish Luck (2006) for Hong Kong.
“I was confident I was going to pick him (California Spangle) up but I actually anticipated getting there a little bit later than I did on today’s particular occasion and California Spangle never lays down. He’s always in for the fight. If I didn’t put a good margin on him, I don’t think we would have won – credit to my horse, he put the margin on,” McDonald said.
The win was McDonald’s second at the top-level this season in Hong Kong after victory atop Romantic Warrior in the 2022 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
“Whenever you get the opportunity to hop on a good horse like today, you jump on it and I love the racing up here – it’s fantastic racing, very competitive but the big races are second to none. They stand alone,” McDonald said.
Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley this Wednesday (22 March).