Racing News  

Fans bid farewell to Hong Kong��s warrior, Lucky Nine


Lucky Nine, one of Hong Kong racing’s greatest ambassadors, will bid farewell to his fans at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday, 13 March.

Brave, resolute, courageous, warrior, tough: just some of the descriptors applied to Lucky Nine throughout his impressive career. Add classy and champion, and the profile is more or less complete. Lucky Nine was all of those and more: a horse with abundant talent who overcame recurring physical issues to become a familiar name on the world stage; carrying the Hong Kong flag admirably on foreign soil, from Dubai to Australia, Japan to Singapore.

“He’s been a great horse, personally and for the stable,” said trainer Caspar Fownes. “He got seven Group 1s and numerous other wins. He’s been a lovely horse to deal with; he has so much fight and so much heart, especially considering the little problems he’s had along the way. If he hadn’t had any of those problems, he’s a horse that would have been an absolute super star, but he gave everything and his record is terrific.”

At home the Dubawi gelding was twice Champion Sprinter (2012/13 & 2013/14) and won the big one, the G1 Hong Kong Sprint, in 2011. His domestic haul also included the HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Mile, HKG1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m), G2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) and, on two occasions, the HKG1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m).

In all, Lucky Nine carried the white and red silks of Dr. Chang Fuk-to and his wife Maria Chang Lee Ming-shum to 13 wins from 48 starts, for total prize money of HK$52,355,679.

“He’ll be missed by all of us at the stable, especially by me,” said Fownes, “and he was a special horse for Brett (Prebble), too - they had some great times together. And it was great that he came along for Doc and Maria, they’ve been absolutely brilliant to train for, they were happy to let me take the horse overseas and I’m really glad that we were able to share those good times together. The Doc is a wonderful man, he’s a professional and he always left it to me to handle everything - there’s so much pressure on you when you have a good horse, trying to do the right thing for everyone, and I was very appreciative of that. I loved training for him and I’m looking forward to getting a new one for him.”

Lucky Nine’s overseas exploits reaped famous wins in the G1 KrisFlyer International Sprint (1200m) at Kranji, Singapore; two exhilarating performances under the equatorial night that will live long in the memories of all present. Those two wins from 11 overseas starts could so easily have been more. His first off-shore run, in September of 2011, produced a head second in the G2 Centaur Stakes at Hanshin; at Meydan, Dubai, the following March he ran a brave third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, forced to race over the Tapeta surface wearing unsuitable glue-on shoes after an issue with his foot. In September 2012 he fluffed the start of the G1 Sprinters Stakes, was forced wide on the turn and roared home lion-like to finish a length and three quarters fifth behind the great Lord Kanaloa.

And then there was Australia’s Manikato Stakes. Lucky Nine won many admirers despite going down by a nose in the Moonee Valley Group 1. Fownes’ charge hit a flat spot mid-race and looked to be done, but never one to shirk a task, the brave bay responded to Prebble’s urgings and rallied with a raw closing effort to get to within a whisker at the post.   

Prebble was in the saddle for 38 of Lucky Nine’s 48 starts during the horse’s Hong Kong career, including an unbroken 26-race stretch from February 2012 to May 2015.

“He was an amazing horse to me,” said Prebble. “I had some wonderful times with him and he’s given me and the owners and Caspar some great memories - I’m not sure we’ll find another one like him. He was a soldier and a real character. He touched us in many ways - he’s a lovely horse to be a part of.

“Singapore, both times, would stand out - he was very special in his wins, he put them away with ease. But also his Hong Kong Sprint win here was top-class, and that was one of his best performances.”

Sunday’s retirement ceremony comes six years, almost to the day, since Lucky Nine made his Hong Kong debut - that was on 14 March, 2010. A three-year-old at the time, the gelding had raced three times in Ireland for one win pre-import and showed promise on that Sha Tin bow as he ran home third in the Class 3 Super Fit Handicap (1200m) under Andreas Suborics. His final career outing was the 2015 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint back in December, a race he contested six times.

Profile of Lucky Nine

Lucky Nine wins his first international G1 in the 2011 Hong Kong Sprint.
Photo 1:
Lucky Nine wins his first international G1 in the 2011 Hong Kong Sprint.



Copyright © 2000-2024 The Hong Kong Jockey Club. All rights reserved.