By Andrew Hawkins
LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint one-two Aerovelocity and Lucky Bubbles geared up for their highly-anticipated rematch in the G2 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) with barrier trial “wins” on different surfaces at Sha Tin on Tuesday (17 January).
Aerovelocity stepped out in a 1200m dirt trial, while Lucky Bubbles was kept to the turf, headlining an intriguing 1000m heat, as both gear up for their next race on 30 January.
Lucky Bubbles raced near the lead in the opening trial of the morning, reaching the front at the 150m and holding off John Size’s Class 3 galloper Diego Kosta by three-quarters of a length against a line-up that also included G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile runner-up Helene Paragon (fourth) and G1-winning stablemates Designs On Rome (eighth) and Werther (ninth).
“He was really good and I’m very happy with him,” trainer Francis Lui said. “He has not raced for a while but he’s holding his condition and he seems to be thriving. He is right where I want him to be now.”
Rider Brett Prebble sported a grin post-trial and was bullish about his chances in the Group 2 on 30 January: “I can’t wait to get back on him at the races again. That was exactly what we wanted to see from him. He’s spot on.”
Aerovelocity also sat just off the speed in his trial but in different circumstances, with regular rider Zac Purton tracking Richard Gibson’s four-year-old Who Dat Singa, who led after jockey Silvestre de Sousa lost his irons early and was then forced to ride without a foothold throughout. Paul O’Sullivan’s eight-year-old sprinted to the lead at the 200m, holding a one and three-quarter length margin over Benno Yung-trained Smart Boy at the line.
“It was good,” O’Sullivan said of last year’s Centenary Sprint Cup winner. “Zac was quite happy with it. He’s got to the stage where he switches off the last little bit. I rely on Zac – it can look to me like he’s trialled well and Zac won’t think so, and vice versa, so as long as Zac’s happy, given how well he knows him, then it’s all good.”
“He’s fine,” Purton added. “He went out and did his thing. He jumped out, showed speed, travelled nicely, showed a bit of a turn of foot, eased himself down. He’s pretty standard, which is good. He feels like he’s in better shape than he was earlier in the season, he seems much brighter within himself and his coat looks much healthier. I’m happy with my horse going into this, I won’t have too many more spins around on him so I’m just looking forward to getting back out there again!”
Earlier, Purton sat aboard John Moore-trained Werther for the first time since April. That day, he rode the galloper in his last trial before his runaway G1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (2000m) success.
Last season’s Horse of the Year has not raced since May and was having his first trial since on Tuesday, sitting at the rear alongside stablemate and another former Horse of the Year in Designs On Rome (Douglas Whyte) as both head for the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) on 30 January.
“I didn’t even know I was on the horse, John just put me on it!” he laughed. “My instructions were to give him an easy trial, and I thought he trialled well. His action was good and he moved well, his attitude was good. They went a bit quick for him early but as we got to the line he started to pick up.”
The eye-catcher in the trial was another Moore trainee, with LONGINES Hong Kong Mile runner-up Helene Paragon galloping out strongly for a two and a half-length fourth under Alexis Badel.
Brett Prebble rides Lucky Bubbles (in red) to a barrier trial win at Sha Tin this morning.
Aerovelocity wins a barrier trial in impressive fashion at Sha Tin today.