Lucky Bubbles steps out in Sunday’s G2 Premier Bowl

Lucky Bubbles will step out against familiar foes in a hot edition of the G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m) at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday.

Hong Kong’s elite pack of sprinters is a tightly-matched group based on last season’s form but jockey Zac Purton believes his mount may have more in the locker this term, while improvement is also expected into the six-year-old’s primary target, December’s G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).

“There’s nothing much between the best sprinters, they were taking it in turns last season. It just depended who had the run in the race and had the breaks on the day,” Purton said this morning (Tuesday, 17 October).

“I can't see it being too much different to that early in the season but as we go along I feel Lucky Bubbles can improve a little bit on what he was doing last season. He’s probably a bit more mature right now and I think that will help him.”

Lucky Bubbles gets the better of Mr Stunning to take the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize last May, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club

The Francis-Lui-trained Lucky Bubbles earned a deserved breakthrough G1 win in last May’s Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) to rank third in Hong Kong’s official ratings, one point behind the John Size-trained pair of Mr Stunning and Thewizardofoz.

Those talented gallopers, a neck and a length second and fourth in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize, are entered to re-oppose at the weekend, each shouldering top-weight of 133lb in the 11-runner contest. Mr Stunning has the benefit of a run already this term – sixth in the G3 National Day Cup Handicap (1000m) on 1 October – while Lucky Bubbles (132lb) heads in fresh off a couple of eye-catching barrier trials.

“His last trial was good, it just gave him a nice pipe opener,” Purton said. “He’s progressively got better each time I’ve worked him. Earlier in the season he wasn’t giving me much feel at all, but he’s that type of horse, he’s a very laidback, relaxed customer. He doesn’t overly tax himself. In every piece of work he’s had and in every trial he’s had, he’s just got better and better. He’s done all his work on his own and he’s going to keep improving.”

Purton, though, still expects a bold show from Lucky Bubbles on Sunday. His concerns are the weight he must shoulder, “He’s only a small horse, so it’s not going to be easy for him,” and which barrier he will draw.

“He’s a quality animal though, and all things being equal he’ll still run a bold race,” he said. “I think he’s in good enough form to go out there and give it a shake but we know he’s just going to get better. December is where we want him to peak.”

The Premier Bowl entries also include the 2015 G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint victor Peniaphobia (132lb); the first two home in the National Day Cup, Dashing Fellow (120lb) and Not Listenin’tome (131lb); Amazing Kids (129lb) and the emerging D B Pin (116lb) from the Size stable; Fabulous One (112lb), Magic Legend (112lb) and Strathmore (106lb).

Sunday’s exciting card also features the G2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy Handicap. The 13 entries for that mile contest include champion miler Beauty Only (133lb) and fellow G1 stars Helene Paragon (133lb) and Werther (132lb).