Fortune Knight completes treble for Sweeney

Cambridge trainers Tim and Margaret Carter capped a big day for Te Awamutu jockey Mark Sweeney when they provided him with the winning ride on Fortune Knight in the Gr. 3 $80,000 Hooker Pacific Taranaki Cup at New Plymouth yesterday.

Sweeney was successful on Neena Rock for Taranaki trainer Warren Bolton then won two races later on the Stephen McKee-trained Moozoon, who produced a fine dress rehearsal for the Gr. 1 Wellfield NZ Oaks and he got a buzz completing his treble on Fortune Knight.

Sweeney rode Fortune Knight for the first time when third to Chintz in the Gr. 2 Rich Hill Mile and has remained on his back in his three starts since the Ellerslie feature. The combination was fourth to Solitaire in an open 1600 metres at Pukekohe then third behind Etoile Filante in the Hamilton Cup at Te Rapa before registering a well-deserved win yesterday.

“He has been so unlucky in his last six starts,” said Margaret Carter. “He was under a ride early today and I was a bit worried, but it didn’t matter in the end.”

Fortune Knight rallied strongly for Sweeney to outgun the pacemaker Guess What in the final stages, scoring by a long head, while Capone finished a length away in third spot.

 “The speed was on and that suited him,” said Sweeney. “I was able to push him forward a bit and kept him one off and out of trouble all the way.”

It was Fortune Knight’s second start beyond 1600 metres and the 1800 distance provided him with his third win and second in New Zealand since joining the Carter stable.

Fortune Knight is a northern hemisphere-bred galloper  who was a winner over 1400 metres in England as a two-year-old and headed to Hong Kong after contesting a Group Two event at Goodwood.

“He knocked a tendon in Hong Kong and it just didn’t suit him over there so he came to us,” said Tim Carter. “He was a bit of a handful when we got him but Alysha Macaulay, who was working for us at the time, sorted him out. She did a great job on him.”

Fortune Knight has had 14 starts from the Carter stable and scored an open handicap upset win at Ruakaka in his fourth outing. Though he hasn’t been able to win since then he has been unlucky on several occasions.

“The only bad race he has run was at Tauranga early on when he just couldn’t handle the heavy track,” said Carter. “Apart from that he’s been right there each time.”

On the strength of yesterday’s win, the Carters may now consider freshening Fortune Knight for the Gr. 2 $100,000 Windsor Park Stud Japan Trophy (1600m) at Tauranga on March 22.

Cambridge came close to landing both features at yesterday’s Taranaki meeting as the Linda Laing-owned and trained Duey was a brave second, beaten a mere nose by Arctic Wolf in the Gr. 3 Phoenix Park 2YO Classic.