Top miler Luger has failed to please trainer John Size in training since his surprise defeat last start and the 2015 Derby winner will be retired without another start.
Size revealed the news after winning with Happy Surveys at Happy Valley last night, the fourth win of the night for Joao Moreira after a brilliant ride.
Luger had a long rehabilitation after a second heart irregularity in the Champions Mile almost a year ago, only returning to racing with a nose second in the Stewards’ Cup in January before he was downed by Rewarding Hero under handicap conditions last month.
The warning bells were ringing when Luger was missing from the Group Two Chairman’s Trophy this Sunday and Size confirmed that the five-year-old will be retired to a farm in New South Wales, Australia.
“I wasn’t happy with his energy at home, his work had looked ordinary and I explained to his owner that, if we had to go through the whole process again that we did before to get him back to racing after the heart problem, then I thought retirement was a better option,” Size said.
Luger retires as the winner of seven of his 13 starts and HK$18 million in stake money but will always be one of those horses leaving the impression Size was never able to quite get to his very best due to physical issues.
Meanwhile, Size hit back with a win by Happy Surveys after his main chaser in the trainers’ title race, Danny Shum Chap-shing earlier led in a three-timer with Lucky Profit and Land Grant, both for Moreira, and Super Sprinter (Zac Purton) to cut back Size’s championship lead to single figures.
With the C+3 track suiting on-pace horses, Moreira gave a clever display to win on Happy Surveys, a horse whose record of three wins from 11 starts might read better but for his get-back style.
“He doesn’t help himself with his lack of early speed and he does give his jockeys a bit to do,” said Size.
“But Joao was able to weave him through and give him a great ride and he was good enough to take advantage of it. He’ll stay in Class Three after that and maybe he’s good enough to win another in the grade.”
Shum’s trio concluded with Land Grant’s impressive win in the night’s trophy race, after an equally clever Moreira ride from gate 11, and Shum believes it is all still ahead of the four-year-old.
“Some of the races have been slowly run tonight but with some speed on in that race, Joao was able to get Land Grant in two wide in the middle of the field and his acceleration was very good,” Shum said. “I think he’s suited by Happy Valley but he has run well at Sha Tin. He’s quite a nice horse and will run further than tonight’s 1,650m - definitely 1,800m and probably even 2,000m too.”
When the dust cleared, Size ended the night on 49 wins to Shum’s 39, with Paul O’Sullivan keeping himself in the picture with 36 after Line Seeker gave Purton a double in the final race.
For good measure, fourth-placed trainer Francis Lui Kin-wai also landed a victory when Smart Union (Moreira) took advantage of a rails draw and never went around a horse in race four.
“He won well twice earlier in the season and I wouldn’t say he lost form but he hasn’t had the right draw or the right pace since he moved up in class,” said Lui. “He couldn’t have had things more perfect tonight.”
The C+3 is notorious for producing interference in races and last night was no different with stewards suspending Karis Teetan for two meetings for causing interference in the home straight in the fifth race.