Hong Kong's Lucky Nine denied Australia's Bel Sprinter in the $1 million Group 1 KrisFlyer International Sprint (1200m) in Singapore

Hong Kong's Lucky Nine denied Australia's Bel Sprinter in the $1 million Group 1 KrisFlyer International Sprint (1200m) in Singapore and in the process a major sprint rivalry may well have begun which could continue throughout 2013, reports Steve Moran at Racing Victoria.

Lucky Nine provided trainer Caspar Fownes with a second win in the Singapore spring feature, having won in 2010 with former Australian galloper Green Birdie, and the trainer immediately declared that he was "ten to one on" to campaign a horse in Australia and that Lucky Nine could well be the one to blaze that trail. 

“I am ten to one to get there at some stage. It's something I'm very keen to do. The Aussies are so passionate about their racing and I want to be part of it one of these days. Obviously we'll look at the Melbourne spring program among the many options for the horse,” he said. 

The Melbourne option is obviously the Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m), a leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, with Lucky Nine now eligible for the VRC $600,000 bonus which would mean a $1.2 million first prize should he win. The Sprinters Stakes in Japan is also a possibility as is Royal Ascot but Fownes said a UK trip was only a “maybe” at this stage. 

And, aside from all those possibilities, the Group 1 Hong Kong International Sprint (1200m) in his own backyard in December is probably the race definitely locked in all being well and that could well see a rematch with Jason Warren's Bel Sprinter. 

“I'll look forward to seeing him again if December, if not sooner,” Warren said, referring to Lucky Nine after Bel Sprinter charged late to be beaten a margin of three lengths which was not a true reflection of the margin between the two horses. 

Warren hadn't met Fownes but introduced himself immediately after the race and was among the first to congratulate the winning trainer. Fownes returned the goodwill gesture by labelling Bel Sprinter a “gun”. 

While Lucky Nine enjoyed the run of the race, Bel Sprinter had to come from the tail and overcome a severe bump on the home turn.

“He copped one hell of a bump on the home turn,” said jockey Hugh Bowman, “It may not have been the difference between winning and losing but he should have been closer. 

“He's run a terrifically good race. He struggled to get into a rhythm early but he eventually got balanced, at least before the prat on the turn and he did produce a finishing burst.”

Warren said he was happy rather than disappointed. “He's run so well you have to be happy. I've been around racing too long to dwell on running second. He was on his wrong leg for the first 400 metres. He's come from those two runs in Sydney and gone back to going left handed. That might have thrown him early. 

“It got a bit rough for him on the corner but he hit the line enormous. He's done a super job. He's done Australia proud. He's still learning this horse. He's had 15 starts and done something wrong in just about every one of them but he'll come on from this experience and I think we're in for a good spring,” Warren said. 

The winner was, of course, ridden by Hong Kong based Australian Brett Prebble who'd previously won the race on Sacred Kingdom in 2009.

“My confidence grew from six to ten when the horse began well,” Prebble said, “he had his mind on the job and ran right up to his very best which is very bloody good especially when you consider all the issues he has.”

Fownes said the win was “satisfying” and a great relief. “You can't imagine the pressure I felt leading into this race with the horse's internal issues, his feet problem and just for good measure we discovered a chip in a fetlock joint when we x-rayed him recently. Who knows how good his record would be but for all his little problems,” Fownes said.