Luigi Muollo has gone all-in to make sure he benefits from the success of the outstanding sprinter Lucky Sweynesse in Hong Kong.
Lucky Sweynesse broke through for his first top-level success on Sunday, putting a very unlucky sixth in December’s Gr.1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) behind him as he won the Gr.1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) by 1 1/2 lengths from Hong Kong Sprint winner Wellington.
Muollo not only bred Lucky Sweynesse (along with Allan Sharrock and Paul Dombroski) from the Listed Wanganui Cup (2040m) winner Madonna Mia, he also stands the star gelding’s sire Sweynesse at his Novara Park Stud, near Cambridge.
Madonna Mia was a versatile mare that won nine races and has now gone on with the job as a broodmare.
“Madonna Mia was for sale up north somewhere and I liked that breed – I’d done quite well with Ekraar and I’m a big fan of Red Ransom – and we ended up buying her together and Allan ended up training her,” Muollo said.
“She won first-up as a two-year-old and was fourth in the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (Gr.2, 1200m), but Allan eventually got her out over ground. She was a very gutsy mare who had two-year-old ability but then raced on as an older horse.”
The success of Lucky Sweynesse and his year-older sister, Gr.1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) placegetter Signora Nera, also convinced Muollo to buy Madonna Mia’s half-sister Belle Hope, a winner of four races, earlier this year.
Currently Madonna Mia and Belle Hope are both in foal to Sweynesse, while Signora Nera, whose career was cut short last year due to a tendon injury despite winning her four-year-old debut in Sydney by four lengths, has a Wootton Bassett filly at foot and is in foal to Bivouac.
“It’s a really exciting time and the family history shows the horses get even better as they get older,” Muollo said.
“I’m just so lucky to have this family now in my hands.”
Lucky Sweynesse was a $90,000 purchase for Joe Barnes of J & I Bloodstock at the 2020 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run sale, having not been offered as a yearling.
“He was a very balanced young horse, strong, neat, and tidy, with that kind of unusual stripe on his face,” Muollo said.
“He was strong as a yearling, but as you look at him as a four-year-old he’s quite the beast. He should improve even more I think given what his mother and sister did.”
Sent to Cambridge trainer Shelley Hale, Lucky Sweynesse won a trial on the Ellerslie inside track by six lengths as an early three-year-old in August 2021 before being sent to Hong Kong. He only made his debut a year ago, winning over 1200m on February 9 last year, and has now won nine of his 13 starts and earned HK$22,795,200 (about NZ$4,600,000) for trainer Manfred Man.
Last season’s Champion Griffin is now being set for the remaining two legs of Hong Kong’s Speed Series – the Gr.1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) on March 19 and the Gr.1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) on April 30.
Despite his sprinting success, Muollo believes Lucky Sweynesse could excel over more ground.
“Wellington was rated the third-best sprinter in the world last year, so it’s a very very good standard that Lucky Sweynesse has got to, and I think he’ll only get better,” he said.
“If he’s ridden with cover, then I’ve got no reason to believe he wouldn’t get the mile, and I thought he’d be good enough as a four-year-old to go for the Hong Kong Derby (2000m) if they had wanted to.”
In addition to Signora Nera and Lucky Sweynesse, Madonna Mia has produced a three-year-old colt by Per Incanto and a yearling colt by Contributer. Both are with Sharrock, with the three-year-old having won a trial last November.
“The Per Incanto colt was the subject of a few offers to Hong Kong but he didn’t sell, so we decided to give him a little spell and he’ll be back in work soon with Allan. He’s got quite a bit of his sibling’s ability so we look forward to him coming back soon,” Muollo said.
In winning the Sprint Cup, Lucky Sweynesse became the first Group One winner by Sweynesse, whose oldest crop is now five.
His yearlings sold well at the just-completed New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling sale at Karaka. Between Book 1 and Book 2 he had eight of his 11 yearling offerings sell at an average of $94,500, with the most expensive purchase a $180,000 colt offered by Brighthill Farm out of the O’Reilly mare Pander.
They came from a crop where the service fee was $6000 plus GST. Last season he was at $9000 plus GST.
“I had five texts last night after the Sprint Cup asking what Sweynesse’s service fee was going to be next season, and I said that hey, I always like to provide value for money with all of my stallions,” Muollo said.
“You always want the breeders to make a profit at the sales, and when you look at the prices at Karaka that was the case. I’m looking forward to the breeding season.”