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NEWS

Prebble impressed as Lucky Bubbles takes Premier Bowl

23/10/2016 16:18

by Andrew Hawkins

It was a case of lucky by name but not by nature for Lucky Bubbles as he staked his claim as king of the local speedsters and Hong Kong’s top seed for the December G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint with victory in today’s (Sunday, 23 October) G2 Premier Bowl (Handicap) at Sha Tin.

  • Brett Prebble partners the Francis Lui-trained Lucky Bubbles to victory in the Premier Bowl (Group 2, 1200m) at Sha Tin Racecourse today.
    Brett Prebble partners the Francis Lui-trained Lucky Bubbles to victory in the Premier Bowl (Group 2, 1200m) at Sha Tin Racecourse today.

Francis Lui’s five-year-old was the leading light among a number of up-and-coming sprinters who were expected to challenge the established brigade, including the last two winners of the Hong Kong Sprint in Peniaphobia and Aerovelocity. And he didn’t let his swathe of fans down with his neck victory over another rising star in John Size-trained Amazing Kids, stopping the clock in 1m 08.29s.

“It was impressive,” jockey Brett Prebble said after he recorded the race’s second fastest finishing sectional of 22.19 seconds for his last 400m. “It was no surprise, though. I rode him to produce like that, and didn’t he produce? That was exactly what we hoped to see.”

  • The Francis Lui-trained Lucky Bubbles (No. 3), ridden by Brett Prebble, storms home to take the G2 Premier Bowl (1200m Handicap) at the Sha Tin Racecourse today.
    The Francis Lui-trained Lucky Bubbles (No. 3), ridden by Brett Prebble, storms home to take the G2 Premier Bowl (1200m Handicap) at the Sha Tin Racecourse today.

The race was run solidly from the get-go, with Peniaphobia (133lb) and Domineer (123lb) setting a strong tempo into the first bend, and Prebble admitted that he was mindful of the pace with a view to giving Lucky Bubbles as soft a run as possible.

“The pressure that was on early just dragged him out of his comfort zone a touch, probably a little bit more than I would have liked,” he said. “I wanted him to have an easy first half of the race, he’s still underdone and he had 131 pounds and the tricky gate so I was happy to just let him really relax.”

Prebble settled Lucky Bubbles beyond midfield off the rail, and after a soft run throughout, pulled him to the outside and he sprinted quickly. But on his inside, veteran Aerovelocity (131lb) was making a bold bid nearer the inside for Zac Purton, while lightly-weighted Blizzard (114lb) was also putting in a run after travelling three and four deep for most of the trip under Chad Schofield.

“He had them covered, though. He put them away a long way out,” Prebble said. “When he got there, he only does what he has to do and if anything, he blew out at the 100 metres. He had to dig a little bit and find, and that he did.”

Lucky Bubbles loomed up to the leaders and looked the winner inside the 150 metres, but just as he was ready to declare the fight over, Prebble spotted a familiar foe sneaking up on his inside – John Size-trained Amazing Kids (130lb), who the Australian rider had partnered three weeks ago to a success in the G3 National Day Cup (1000m) down the straight.   

“I was never worried!” Prebble said with a smile. “I could see Silvestre (de Sousa) and Amazing Kids coming, and I knew he had the fitness edge so I knew he would be tough at the end when my bloke was vulnerable. But Lucky Bubbles, to his credit he fought on, he was never going to let him get by.”

  • The winning connections celebrate their success after the race.
    The winning connections celebrate their success after the race.
  • Club Chairman Dr Simon Ip (back row, 1st from right), Club Stewards and CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges (back row, 1st from left), and the connections of Premier Bowl winner Lucky Bubbles, smile for cameras at the trophy presentation ceremony.
    Club Chairman Dr Simon Ip (back row, 1st from right), Club Stewards and CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges (back row, 1st from left), and the connections of Premier Bowl winner Lucky Bubbles, smile for cameras at the trophy presentation ceremony.

“I did have plenty left though, and so I thought I would have him covered. But I just wanted to make sure he had the softest run he could, I didn’t want to give him a hard run. But I’m very happy, bring on December!”

Trainer Francis Lui confirmed the horse would follow the traditional path to the HK$18.5 million sprinting showpiece on 11 December, heading next to the G2 BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) on 20 November.

“He definitely will,” Lui said. “He will run in the trial next month and then he will take on the world again in December.”

Lucky Bubbles had not raced since early May, when he beat all bar Australian sensation Chautauqua in the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m), but on the strength of that form he was sent out 2/1 popular elect, even first-up with 131 pounds on his back.

And Lui admitted the pressure had been building ever since the compact son of Sebring had made the step up to the highest grade.

“It was a relief to see him winning this race,” he said. “There was a bit of pressure before the race, everyone expected him to run well fresh, but the horse has lived up to our expectations and has proven that he’s up to the best in Hong Kong.”

“Brett said he expected a good pace and he was worried, if we went forward in the early stages, we might be forced to race wide. So I told him to take hold after the start and just be patient. He did just that.

“He just keeps improving though, race by race he’s better and better. He’s a very nice sprinter.”

De Sousa, who made his eagerly-awaited return to the Hong Kong racing scene at today’s meeting after the end of the British flat season, was impressed by the run of runner-up Amazing Kids.

“He ran a good race,” the Brazilian rider said. “He was just a bit sluggish coming out of the gates but he ran a great race.”

Aerovelocity had a checkered season last term, winning the HKG1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m) in January, but failing in two other runs as injury and illness plagued his campaign. Still, jockey Zac Purton hopes that his game third in today’s race is a sign that the eight-year-old is back to his best.

“He ran well,” he said. “He’s really fat at the moment and he needed that run – he’s going to need another one as well but he’ll be ready for December. He’s a bit older so we were expecting that type of run today – he ran up to what we thought he would do.”

Dundonnell (119lb) flew home from near the tail to run fourth, while Blizzard stuck on gamely for fifth. The disappointment of the race was Thewizardofoz (116lb), who was backed into 3/1 second favourite but could only beat one home under Joao Moreira.

PREMIER BOWL - Race Result

PREMIER BOWL - Photo Album

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