Lucky Sweynesse storms to G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize glory

Daryl Timms

30/04/2023 18:32

Lucky Sweynesse demolishes the field.
Lucky Sweynesse demolishes the field.

Established as the world’s highest-rated sprinter of 2023, Lucky Sweynesse joined elite company with a runaway win in the HK$20 million G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (30 April).

The four-year-old continued his rise to stardom and edged closer to embarking on an ambitious path of potentially tackling elite races either in Japan or Australia in the coming months with a devastating display of power and speed, gliding over the closing 400m in 22.26s.

Going into Sunday’s race already armed with a pair of G1 victories this season, the Manfred Man trained four-year-old also collected a HK$5 million bonus for successfully completing the third leg of Hong Kong’s three-race Speed Series.

Only three other horses – Mr Vitality (1995/96), Grand Delight (2002/03) and the legendary Silent Witness (2003/04 & 2004/05) – had previously annexed the Speed Series.

Lucky Sweynesse delivers a powerhouse performance.

Forced to work hard early in the race when taken out a little wider than Zac Purton would have liked, Lucky Sweynesse left no doubt about his superiority over the seven other runners when he surged away with the race by three and a quarter lengths to justify his red-hot starting price.

Lucky Sweynesse’s slice from the HK$20 million prize purse for finishing first was HK$11.4 million to give the gelding a total winning cheque of HK$16.4 million for the day and added a further accolade to the sprint sensation.

It was Purton’s first win in the race since Ivictory in 2018 and his fifth overall FWD Champions Day G1 win, while Lucky Sweynesse delivered Man’s first FWD Champions Day G1 winner.

Zac Purton has five FWD Champions Day G1 wins.
Zac Purton has five FWD Champions Day G1 wins.

Purton said the sky was now the limit for Lucky Sweynesse and believes the gelding will continue to get better.

“That was what we were hoping to see today and it was just a matter of whether he could get out of the gates and get himself into a nice position and to his credit he begun really well today but obviously had Wellington and Sight Success holding their spot inside me going into the first corner and trying to make me do a little bit of work so I was worried doing the next bit of work on him might be a telling factor but this horse just continues to get better,” Purton said.

“I feel like we’re going to see a better horse again next season. The sky is the limit at the moment.”

Purton explained that Lucky Sweynesse was not like any other sprinter he’d ridden, saying he is not explosive out of the gates and doesn’t travel like a normal willing sprinter.

“He’s very unassuming and once he gets out of the gates, you can ride him anywhere. Inside, outside,” Purton said. “He’s versatile in his races, he can come from back in the field, he’s led, he’s stalked the leader.

“He’s such a lovely horse and he’s very laidback and he conserves his energy for races.”

Asked about how special winning the race was, Purton said: “They’re all special, they’re all different in their own way, horses are different, the connections are different and the path to get here is different so they all mean a lot and obviously this horse for Manfred at the tail end of his career and maybe the tail end of mine as well, this could be a fitting way for both of us to go out.”

Lucky Sweynesse wasn’t the only Hong Kong horse in the race chasing glory in the 1200m scamper. The reigning Hong Kong champion sprinter of last season, Wellington was aiming to become just the second three-time winner of the Chairman’s Sprint Prize after taking out the race in the past two years.

Ridden by Alexis Badel, Wellington finished third behind the second-placed Courier Wonder, trained by John Size and ridden by Hugh Bowman.

England with Flaming Rib and Japan’s Aguri failed in their bids to join Australia’s grey flash Chautauqua as the only raider to win the race in 2016 when it was opened to international visitors.

The world now beckons Lucky Sweynesse which holds an entry for June’s G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) in Tokyo. Another option is to gain a slot in the HK$77 million The Everest (1200m) at Sydney’s Randwick Racecourse in October.

Lucky Sweynesse has not raced beyond 1400m and Purton admitted after the race that he is unsure about 1600m for the speedster but after the race trainer Manfred Man, who is in the twilight of his long training career, said he would possibly restrict the horses to distances up to 1400m.

Manfred Man was non-committal when discussing Lucky Sweynesse’s future, which might include tilts at either the G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) in Tokyo in June or The Everest (1200m) in Sydney in October.

“I think, at this moment, we’re thinking about 1200m or 1400m distance,” Man said. “One mile is still a concern, the distance.

“We’re still thinking. I need to discuss with the owner first. When we make the decision, we’ll tell everybody.”

Man said he was confident that Lucky Sweynesse would win.

“This is very special to me,” he said.

Featured News