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‘Lucky Sweynesse clearly should be Horse of the Year’: Zac Purton

Golden Sixty is chasing a record third straight Horse of the Year title, but Zac Purton believes Lucky Sweynesse has “clearly” been Hong Kong’s best galloper during the 2022-23 season.

While both have three Group One wins to their name this campaign, Lucky Sweynesse’s regular rider pointed to the four-year-old sprinter’s body of work as proof he should receive the crown at Friday night’s presentation at the Rosewood.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Golden Sixty because he’s a fantastic horse, but the award is about the horse who’s performed the best this year. That has clearly been Lucky Sweynesse,” Purton said.

“He won eight races to become only the second horse in history behind Beauty Generation to do that.

“They each won three Group One races, but Lucky Sweynesse won more Group Two and Group Three races, and he started racing on the first day of the season and raced all the way through to June.

“He won more prize money. They’ve got an equal domestic rating and an equal international rating. Lucky Sweynesse is also the first horse in nearly two decades – the immortal Silent Witness was the previous one – to sweep the Hong Kong Speed Series.

“I think if you compare the two seasons they’ve had, clearly Lucky Sweynesse stands out.”

To go with his Group One wins in the Centenary Sprint Cup (1,200m), Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1,400m) and Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1,200m), Lucky Sweynesse also bagged two Group Two and two Group Three victories, as well as a Class One success, to amass more than HK$44 million in prize money this term.

While Golden Sixty added elite-level wins in the Stewards’ Cup (1,600m), the Gold Cup (2,000m) – defeating Romantic Warrior at his pet distance – and the Champions Mile to his glittering CV, he only claimed one Group Two victory and connections had to settle for just north of HK$34 million in stakes this campaign.

“The fact Golden Sixty only won four races for the season compared to Lucky Sweynesse’s eight – I think that’s a very telling factor,” Purton said.

“What they did with Lucky Sweynesse is they took the competition on. They stretched him to

1,400m. They chased the Speed Series.

“Golden Sixty had a chance to cement his status as the best horse in Hong Kong this season by going either for the Triple Crown or overseas to Japan. He didn’t do that.

“Lucky Sweynesse clearly should be Horse of the Year. You’ve got to take the sentimental aspect of it out, and you’ve got to focus on what they’ve actually achieved.”

The Horse of the Year is voted on by the judging panel from the winners of the respective Champion categories, excluding Champion Griffin.

As well as Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, executive director of racing Andrew Harding and head of racing product Greg Carpenter, the judging panel features three members from the Association of Hong Kong Racing Journalists.

In the Champion categories, Lucky Sweynesse looks set to beat Wellington to the Champion Sprinter gong, Golden Sixty should be named the Champion Miler ahead of California Spangle, Romantic Warrior looks to be in the box seat for the title of Champion Middle-Distance Horse and Russian Emperor should be named Champion Stayer.

In the final Champion category that impacts Horse of the Year voting, Lucky Sweynesse and Hong Kong Derby (2,000m) hero Voyage Bubble duke it out for Champion Four-Year-Old honours, while Howdeepisyourlove and Dream Winner are in the running for Champion Griffin.

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