Established as the world’s highest-rated sprinter of 2023, New Zealand-bred Lucky Sweynesse joined elite company with a runaway win in the HK$20 million Gr.1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The four-year-old son of Novara Park stallion Sweynesse 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 Group One 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.
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 back to fellow Kiwi bred Courier Wonder, a son of Sacred Falls.
It was the fifth consecutive win for Lucky Sweynesse, advancing his overall record to twelve wins, two seconds and a third from 16 starts.
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 and it was just a matter of whether he could get out of the gates and get himself into a nice position. To his credit he begun really well 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.”
The world now beckons Lucky Sweynesse, who holds an entry for June’s Gr.1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) in Tokyo. Another option is to gain a slot in the A$15 million The Everest (1200m) at Sydney 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 horse to distances up to 1400m.
“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.
Lucky Sweynesse was sold at the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale out of Woburn Farm’s 2020 draft for $90,000 to Joe Barnes’ J & I Bloodstock. The gelding was a six length trial winner at Ellerslie out of Shelley Hale’s Cambridge stable before transferring to Hong Kong.