Australian-bred Mr Stunning pictured with connections after winning the Gr.2 Premier Bowl at Sha Tin (Hong Kong Jockey Club)
It was another tremendous weekend for Australian-breds with locals making a clean sweep of the 15 stakes races in Australia between Friday and Sunday – including the $3 million BMW Caulfield Cup.
What’s more, the trend continued off shore on Sunday with Stratum mare, Miss Wilson, notching up her second Group victory in the Red Badge Spring Sprint at Hastings in New Zealand, while Secret Win (by Haradasun) lobbed in a Singapore boilover when capturing the Group Three El Dorado Classic at Kranji.
Vying for the most exciting sprint contest of the weekend though was the clash between Mr Stunning and Lucky Bubbles in the Group Two Premier Bowl over 1200m at Sha Tin in Hong Kong with the Australian-breds going 1-2 in an absolute thriller.
The John Size trained, Nash Rawiller driven, Mr Stunning was asked to lug top weight of 60.5kgs in the Bowl but shrugged off the impost by hitting the lead 150m from home and holding off a – very – fast finishing Lucky Bubbles.
Aboard Mr Stunning for the first time on race day, Rawiller said: “I couldn’t have been more confident heading into the race and, while I realised a lot could go wrong with his big weight, I knew he was going to be tough to beat.
“He put me in a beautiful spot and travelled sweetly … it was an amazing turn of foot and he’s an exceptional horse.”
Mr Stunning, courtesy of a first up sixth in a Group Three over 1000m on 1 October, along with an impressive trial nine days previously, had match fitness over Lucky Bubbles, who was having his first run since taking home the Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize in May (a race in which Mr Stunning finished second).
Size was similarly impressed with Mr Stunning’s win, suggesting “it looked like the best performance” of a career which now reads eight wins and three placings from 14 outings for HK$14,198,600 (approx. A$2.3 million).
The Longines World Rankings committee identified Mr Stunning’s potential early in the piece, elevating the son of Exceed And Excel to top 10 status after his blistering Group Two Sprint Cup victory in April (Lucky Bubbles finished fifth) and while Group One success has eluded the 5YO thus far, he might not have to wait much longer.
Both Mr Stunning and Lucky Bubbles are next due to face off in November’s Group Two BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Sprint before the ultimate throw down in the Group One Longines Hong Kong Sprint over 1200m on 10 December.
Mr Stunning was bred in Victoria by Mr Makybe Diva himself, Tony Santic, and is out of the well related Dayjur mare, With Fervour, a daughter of Group One Hollywood Oaks winner, Fran’s Valentine, and a half sister to 5-time Group One winner, With Anticipation.
(Lucky Bubbles, by Sebring, was also bred in Victoria by Rick Jamieson of Black Caviar fame).
Although Mr Stunning was subsequently pinhooked as a yearling, Santic’s Makybe Diva Racing & Breeding originally sold the Hong Kong flyer for $110,000 at the 2013 Inglis Great Southern Weanling Sale where he was knocked down to Lyndhurst Farm.
By that time, Makybe had sold Mr Stunning’s dam, With Fervour, to Lisa Oldcastle for $6,000 at the 2013 Inglis Australian Broodmare Sale, but unfortunately the mare died the following year, leaving just one more foal: the unraced 3YO Mossman filly, With Faith.