Manfred Man chases Centenary Sprint Cup glory with Lucky Sweynesse

Lucky Sweynesse sweeps to victory at Sha Tin.

Manfred Man is optimistic Lucky Sweynesse can secure Group 1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) triumph at Sha Tin on Sunday to further erase memories of the star speedster’s frustrating Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) experience.

Sent off a short-priced favourite in the Hong Kong Sprint on 11 December, Lucky Sweynesse was badly held up for clear running in finishing sixth behind 2021/22 Hong Kong Champion Sprinter Wellington, who again looms as a major obstacle this Sunday.

With 21 wins for the season so far, 65-year-old Man craves elite achievement with a horse he rates at least the equal of any other galloper he has trained and he is keen to move on from Lucky Sweynesse’s most recent G1 assignment.

“It was just bad luck. In the straight he was just stuck inside but racing is racing – what can you say?” Man mused. “Everything is fine with Lucky Sweynesse. He’s on fire.”

Lucky Sweynesse rebounded strongly with Group 3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1400m) victory on 1 January, while restoring the confidence of Man, who won the Centenary Sprint Cup in 2012 and 2013 with Eagle Regiment.

Pitted against seven rivals this weekend, Lucky Sweynesse starts from barrier eight under Zac Purton, while Wellington will seek a fifth Group 1 victory after jumping from gate five for Alexis Badel.

In a field crammed with quality, Sight Success (Vagner Borges) has gate two, Sky Field (Hugh Bowman) begins from barrier six, Super Wealthy (Lyle Hewitson) has the inside alley, Duke Wai (Harry Bentley) jumps from three, Courier Wonder (Luke Currie) steps from gate four and Master Eight (Karis Teetan) is in barrier seven.

Planning an overseas campaign for 2021 Hong Kong Sprint victor Sky Field, Caspar Fownes concedes Wellington and Lucky Sweynesse are the clear measuring sticks.

“Sky Field seems to be well within himself. Obviously, the two top sprinters (Wellington and Lucky Sweynesse) in Hong Kong will be there again on Sunday and it’s always going to be tough to compete against them, but he’s not far off them so when things go right one day and pan out, he could beat them,” Fownes said.

“They seem to be that length above him at this stage, but he’s in good form, he’s well and I’m more looking to take him away to Dubai for the straight six (Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint, 1200m on March 25), to tell you the truth. I think that’s going to be something he will really like.”

Senor Toba will attempt to enhance international prospects when he contests the Group 3 Centenary Vase Handicap (1800m) at Sha Tin this Sunday after Fownes entered the grey in the QAT Group 1 H.H. The Amir Trophy (2400m) at Al Rayyan Racecourse in Doha, Qatar on February 18.

“He races this weekend in a small field over 1800 metres, which is quite sharp for him but, in saying that, I’m confident he will run really well even though this race is about three furlongs short of what he requires,” Fownes said.

“We’re really looking to this race on Sunday and then looking forward to Doha. He’s also been entered for Dubai and if he runs extremely well in Doha, we’ll continue onto Dubai. If, for some reason, he doesn’t run well, we’ll abort and come back.”

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