Horse Racing
Getting to know you, Lucky Bubbles trials for Purton as big names step out

By David Morgan
19/09/2017 14:33

Lucky Bubbles satisfied new partner Zac Purton with a comfortable stretch-out at Sha Tin this morning (Tuesday, 19 September). Last season’s Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) hero eased through his first barrier trial of the campaign a shade behind fellow G1-winning speedster, Peniaphobia.

Peniaphobia (yellow silks) and Lucky Bubbles (purple cap) finish one-two in a 1000m turf barrier at Sha Tin this morning.
Peniaphobia (yellow silks) and Lucky Bubbles (purple cap) finish one-two in a 1000m turf barrier at Sha Tin this morning.

The 1000-metre turf hit-out afforded Purton a first opportunity to steer the six-year-old under trial conditions, the former champion jockey having acquainted himself with Francis Lui’s stable star in five recent early morning gallops.

“It’s the first time I’ve ridden him in a competitive environment so I’m still getting to know him,” Purton said. “He changed his legs a lot of times and I don’t know if that’s just his character, if he’s playing around, but maybe as he gets fitter he won’t do that. When he goes around a corner, of course, he won’t do it as much.

“He did everything else right,” he added. “He showed good speed and travelled nicely, he was just feeling it the last 100 to 200 metres, but you’d expect that, being his first trial. He’ll trial again before he goes to the races at the end of October.”

Lucky Bubbles sat on the pace and passed the post second, without pressure, a head behind Peniaphobia in a time of 0.57.56. The Sebring gelding is scheduled to make his race return in the G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m) on 22 October.

Peniaphobia, smart from the gate and prominent throughout, crossed the line first and is pencilled-in for the G3 National Day Cup Handicap (1000m) at Sha Tin on Sunday, 1 October.

“He went okay,” said Matthew Chadwick, this morning’s pilot. “He’s another year older and he’ll need a bit more racing to get fitness. He’s always an honest horse, and we know he’s good, but he feels like he’ll need a bit of time to hit his peak.”

The National Day Cup is also the likely target for the John Moore-trained Not Listenin’tome. Last season’s G2 Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) winner sat behind the front rank until fading out through the closing strides to finish ninth of the 12 triallists.

“He went well until the 100 (metres) and then he got tired, he just blew out,” jockey Tommy Berry said of the seven-year-old. “Being an older horse, when they get tired they usually pull themselves up and that’s what he did. He had a good blow afterwards.”

Beauty Only warms up

Batch four, meanwhile, saw last year’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile winner Beauty Only in trial action for the first time this term. Purton, as usual, was in the plate and settled the six-year-old last of five in the 1600m turf run.

Stablemate Giant Treasure, the 2016 G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m) winner, galloped freely to a long lead before fading in the stretch. Beauty Only made smooth progress down the stands’ side rail to finish in a line of three at the post, alongside the smart pair Time Warp and Lucky Girl.

“Beauty Only is what he is,” Purton said. “He just keeps turning up and doing the same thing every time you put him out there, he’s a beauty.

“That was run at a solid speed, especially for his first trial of the season over a mile. He was feeling the pinch halfway through because he hasn’t got the miles into his legs yet. To his credit, he still picked up in a casual manner in the straight and put them away. He was floating along but he’s still got a long way to go until he’s at his top – he felt very big.”

The Tony Cruz-trained stalwart is another that is expected to step out on National Day, with the G3 Celebration Cup Handicap (1400m) his first-up target.

“He’ll run over 1400m on October 1,” Purton continued. “Obviously, handicap conditions won’t suit him, carrying top-weight against some of the nicer horses, and he’ll need that run but he’ll be giving his all. It’s all about peaking in December.”

Last year’s four-year-old classic contenders will have their mettle tested in the season’s early Group races as they vie to find their places in the pecking order. Three such prospects from the John Moore stable were out this morning.

Beauty Only (front) passed the post third in another turf trial today with Zac Purton on board.
Beauty Only (front) passed the post third in another turf trial today with Zac Purton on board.
Eagle Way has an easy trial on all-weather track this morning.
Eagle Way has an easy trial on all-weather track this morning.

Smart stayer Eagle Way went in the fifth heat and pleased his rider, Berry, over 1200m of the all-weather track. The stable jockey was content, too, with Booming Delight and Beauty Generation who rolled out in batches six and seven, also over 1200m on the dirt.

“I’m rapt with Eagle Way,” Berry said. “He had an easy trial – I sat him out the back, on the outside and he cruised to the line. He’s come back stronger with last season behind him.

“Booming Delight was just out there to have an easy time, too. He was very good but he’s pretty round in his frame – he’s carrying a bit of condition – so he got tired late. He’ll improve a lot off that,” he continued.

“Beauty Generation was carrying a bit of condition as well and had a bit of a blow when he pulled up – he had a solid hit out.”

The National Day Cup Handicap and the Celebration Cup Handicap at Sha Tin are the season’s first Group races and begin the build-up to the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races on Sunday, 10 December.