Francis Lui is hoping high-class sprinter Lucky Patch can consign a nightmare outing in the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint to a distant memory when the son of El Roca returns to action at Sha Tin on Sunday evening.
The multiple Group 1-winning conditioner has been pleased with his star Westbury Stud graduate’s progress ahead of the G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize.
Lucky Patch had won both the Group 2 Premier Bowl Handicap and the G2 Jockey Club Sprint ahead of International Day in December, but the short-course specialist parted company with rider Zac Purton during a melee that marred the Hong Kong Sprint.
“He seems okay at the moment and we’ve been slowly building up his confidence again. I’m very happy with him physically,” Lui said.
Lucky Patch returned to trial in January, but failed to perform up to expectations and Lui sent him to the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Conghua facility in China to recover.
Lucky Patch won two barrier trials there last month and finished runner-up in his other outing before belatedly returning to Sha Tin where he will be ridden this weekend by Jerry Chau.
“It was just a shame he got stuck in Conghua and missed a warm-up race before Sunday,” Lui said. “His trackwork and trials have all been fine so I think he’s okay now and we’ll just take it race by race.”
COVID protocols had resulted in cancellation of cross-border movement of horses between Conghua and Sha Tin until more recent times.
Lucky Patch was sold by Westbury at the Magic Millions National Yearling Sale to GPI Racing, Healey Racing and Andrew Williams Bloodstock for A$40,000. He won both of his starts from Billy Healey’s Queensland stable as Paleontologist before his sale to Hong Kong interests.
His dam Gould, a Danehill Dancer mare from the family of G1 Oakleigh Plate winner Khaptingly, foaled a sister to Lucky Patch last season before returning to El Roca.
Closer to home, El Roca’s progressive four-year-old Clever Ruds will need a scratching to make the field for the Group 3 Easter Handicap, in which she will bid for her fourth win on the bounce for trainer Debbie Sweeney.
The stallion will also be represented on the Pukekohe card by the promising pair of Novak and the Gerry Harvey-bred and raced Diosa Luna in the G2 Championship Stakes.
Another in-form daughter of El Roca is Irish Girl will be chasing a hat-trick of stakes wins for Kenny Rae and Krystal Williams-Tuhoro when she steps out in the G3 Canterbury Gold Cup.
The Westbury roster will also be represented by Reliable Man’s gifted daughter Wannabee ‘N’ Paris in the Gold Cup while Our Belle Fille runs in the Listed Princess Stakes at Doomben.
Team Rogerson’s promising Redwood two-year-old Sharp ‘N’ Smart should appreciate the step up to 1600 metres in the Listed Champagne Stakes off the back of a luckless debut second at Ruakaka.
Redwood’s associate stallion Telperion, whose son Tolkein was a smart midweek winner in South Australia, also has the improving Foodie Brothers in the Champagne while daughter Taimate Diva steps out in the Listed Warstep Stakes at Riccarton.