RACEGOERS are in for a treat for the start of the 2023/24 Hong Kong season at Sha Tin on Sunday, when one of the world’s top-rated sprinters Lucky Sweynesse, with Zac Purton aboard, reappears in the Class One HKSAR Chief Executive’s Cup (6.55am), a Class One handicap over six furlongs.
No one can accuse trainer Manfred Man of wrapping up his star performer in cotton wool, with the five-year-old, winning eight of his 10 races last season, including three Group Ones.
Having raced off joint bottom-weight when winning this contest last year, he is now set to concede 20lbs to all five rivals, and not everything has gone according to plan in his build-up to the race.
Last week’s typhoon in the territory, disrupted his track-work plans for the weekend, and he was forced to trial over five furlongs on Monday, just six days before Sunday’s race.
The likes of rock-hard fit Victor The Winner, and battle-hardened handicappers Rewarding Together and Adios, could make this an exciting spectacle, but it’s hard to visualise Lucky Sweynesse tasting defeat, and at probable prohibitive odds.
As per normal, six-time champion jockey Zac Purton has a host of winning chances from his nine rides at the meeting, with the likes of Greenwich in division two of the Yi Tung Shan Handicap (6.25am) over six furlongs, and Supreme Lucky in the Lantau Peak Handicap (10.35am) over six furlongs, worth favourable mentions.
The Zac-Man has also been quick to pick up the reins from injured Vincent Ho, and partner highly-progressive galloper ALL IS GOOD in the Sunset Peak Handicap (9.30am) over seven furlongs.
The Francis Lui-trained gelding never stopped improving in the latter stages of last season, completing a hat-trick, and still looks to be in front of the handicapper.
All Is Good 9.30am Sha Tin