Prince Of Sussex ridden by Michael Dee wins the Showdown at Caulfield (Natasha Morello/Racing Photos)

Champion Australian galloper Prince of Sussex – now racing in Hong Kong as Lucky Express – won his most important race at Sha Tin last Saturday since being sold after winning the $950,000 The Showdown (1200m) at Caulfield for Mornington trainer Matt Laurie.

The now five-year-old gelding won the inaugural running of The Showdown in 2019, picking up a winner’s cheque of $522,500 and giving sire, Swettenham Stud’s Toronado, even greater prominence.

Toronados are highly sought after in Hong Kong, and the offer made for the Victorian bred horse by wealthy owner Larry Chung Chi Kin was too big to refuse.

Prince of Sussex’s victory last Saturday was in the Class 1 Panasonic Cup Handicap (1400m), worth $314,000.

Trainer John Size is considering the prestigious Group 1 Hong Kong Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin next month as an option for the former Australian galloper who was ridden to victory by Aussie expatriate Zac Purton.

Lucky Express has now had 14 Hong Kong starts for two wins, four seconds and three thirds for overall prizemoney of just more than $2 million after leaving Australia with $661,750 in the bank from his first-up fourth and then two wins from his three starts as a two-year-old.

The gelding had developed a reputation for waywardness under pressure last season, but his victory by a head-on Saturday, was described as “brilliant” and the ride of Purton as “masterful.”

“Barrier one was great and he was able to jump out well. He showed some natural speed today,” Purton said after the race.

“The pace was nice and he just tracked up behind them and he just needed a run at the right time.

 “Luckily there was room on the fence. He sprinted through really quickly like he would win by two or three lengths, but when he got there, as we’ve seen before, he still doesn’t quite know how to put them away and lifted his head up and wanted to drift out.

 “He did enough. Good effort first-up.”

Queensland born Size indicated to Hong Kong Jockey Club media that he would fully analyse Lucky Express’ performance before deciding if he would tackle the Hong Kong Mile on Sunday, December 12 at Sha Tin.

 “I haven’t even seen a replay yet, just let me absorb that and then we’ll make a plan,” he said immediately after the race.

 “It was a good run, he trialled up very nicely and he came back from his long break in very good condition.

 “He showed straight away that he wanted to win a race the first day we trialled him. It’s a tough campaign the four-year-olds do but mostly they come back and they get their rewards as five-year-olds.”

 Size previously won the Panasonic Cup with Electronic Unicorn (2001), Gem Of India (2005), Real Specialist (2012) and Western Express (2017).


Victorian bred Eight Trigrams, by Widden’s Victorian stallion Magnus and out of Demandehere (Dehere x Raise A Ransom), kicked off the Sha Tin meeting by winning the opening race.


The six-year-old gelding, trained by David Hall, started his career in Hong Kong and has had 34 starts for four wins, three seconds and two thirds.


And it was also a solid day for Victorian bred horses and stallions at Cranbourne’s metropolitan status Cup meeting on Saturday.


It followed on from the success of the four day Melbourne Cup carnival.


While Magnus produced the Cranbourne Cup winner with the locally bred King Magnus for training partners Robbie Griffiths and Mathew de Kock, trainer Greg Eurell had more success for Larneuk Stud’s Neville Murdoch when Taut You Could won the opening race on debut – the Super VOBIS two-year-old 1000m maiden.


Murdoch pocketed $71,500 for the first price, plus a Super VOBIS nominator’s bonus of $7000 and an owner’s bonus of $23,000. 


The gelding, a full brother to the city winning O’Tauto, is by O’Lonhro (Lonhro x Taut) which stood at breeder Murdoch’s stud.


“Neville Murdoch from Larneuk Stud had the mare, unfortunately she’s not with us anymore, but everything she did have can run, and this guy has been no exception,” Eurell said in his post-race interview.


“He’s a little bit more precocious than what O’Tauto was, but at this stage, he’s doing everything right and it was the right time to bring him to the races.”


Asked about what impressed him most Eurell said:  “Probably his ability to hang on and tough it out. I said to Damian (Lane) ‘the more you ask, the more he’ll keep giving, that’s the style of horse he’s shown us all the way through.


“I think the 1000m is not necessarily his go, but he’s a good, tough competitor and he got away with it.


“I have no doubt probably 1200m, 1400m, a bit further on later in his career would be a more suitable trip for him.”


Former Swettenham Stud stallion Akeed Mofeed (GB) sired the winner of the second race – the three-year-old Cranbourne Classic (2050m) with chestnut filly The Amazonian (Saramenha). The three year-old is trained by Mick Price and Mick Kent Jnr.


Toronado produced another winner for Matt Laurie when Chartres (The French House) won The Super VOBIS Handicap (1200m) for three-year-olds.


Now with two wins and a third from four starts, the gelding picked up $71,500 for first prize at Cranbourne, plus an owner’s bonus of $23,000 and a nominator’s bonus of $7000.


Warrnambool trainer Peter Chow got the money with a mare he bred by former Blue Gum Farm stallion Canford Cliffs (IRE).


Five-year-old Paul’s Regret is out of Denison Star, a mare that Chow trained to a win and eight minor placings.


Paul’s Regret has been a good money-spinner for Chow and co-owners, mainly his family, with the victory in the $150,000 Rosemont Stud Fillies and Mares Pendant (1400m) giving the mare her fourth win to take her earnings to $425,100.


Chow has bred four foals from Denison Star, with gelding Robbie’s Star (Shinzig) winning 11 races, plus six seconds and eight thirds from 72 starts.


Another of Denison Star’s foals, the gelding Hostar (Host) won 10 races and had 10 minor placings. 


Chow said he bought Denison Star as a yearling, but she was hampered by injuries and some bad luck in some races, but is performing better as a broodmare. 


“She has thrown stayers and she has thrown sprinters,” he said.


“She is very versatile and has thrown winners from stallions that are not fashionable, too.


“We have got an unraced three-year-old in work at the moment by Rebel Raider and have got a two-year-old by Host. She missed a year and has got a Highland Reel filly.


“And she has gone to Shamus Award this year.”


Chow said Paul’s Regret would have a crack at the Group 3 Summoned Stakes for mares in two weeks at Caulfield, which will be her first attempt at 1600m.


The Cranbourne victory also offered a free service for the 2022 breeding season for an approved filly or mare to Rosemont Stud stallion Hanseatic.