Frankie Lor Fu-chuen is hurtling along at the head of the trainers’ ladder while his fellow freshman Michael Freedman sits at the foot of the list, but the latter is just as happy with his progress after winning first-up with Fortune Booth on Sunday.
Lor has had three times the runners and is doing a brilliant job of rejuvenating fixer-uppers from other yards, while Freedman’s progress was always going to be slower with an accent on new horses in the string but he ranks second on strike rate to Lor.
And winning with his first new import at the first time of asking was a decent statement that things are on target.
“One of the first guys to call me when I got a licence was Aerovelocity’s owner, Daniel Yeung, and he said his friend, Simon Liu [Wei-jie] had his very first permit and was looking for a Private Purchase,” Freedman said.
“Justin Bahen found this one and rang me and I thought he fit the right profile. He carries his head a bit high, which isn’t ideal, but he had been running in good races in Sydney and he’s a nice big, strong horse.”
Fortune Booth (Zac Purton), raced as Taj Mahal in Sydney, where he dipped the toe in three-year-old Group races without making an impact but did have his share of ability.
A couple of nice trials had him ready for his first assignment at Happy Valley although it all nearly went wrong when he missed the start and got squeezed out to the rear early.
“I think it actually worked for us when he missed the start because the way the race was run, they all wanted to get forward,” Purton said.
“By halfway, I was very happy with my position and it was just a case of whether he was going to let down and go through with it. Although he seemed to run the leader down nicely enough, I still felt like he didn’t apply himself 100 per cent.
“You can look at that two ways – he’s either going to be one of those horse who needs everything to go just right or he’s going to learn what he needs to do and he will have more to give.”
Freedman said he had spoken to champion Australian jockey Hugh Bowman about Fortune Booth and thinks there could be another string to his bow yet.
“Hugh had won over 1,300m on him in Sydney and he told me the horse would get 1,400m as he matures and, if he can relax that extra length or two and do that, then it will open up some more options for him,” Freedman said.
Wild ride for Jack Wong at Happy Valley, lost an iron at the start on Go Go Win ... looked a little dicey out in front back straight. Scary pic.twitter.com/4oxI3aZj6b— Michael Cox (@KemblaCoxy) October 29, 2017
Purton made it a double on Me Tsui-yu-trained Thunder Stomp later in the day although the highlight of that race was how apprentice Jack Wong Ho-nam stayed on Go Go Win after losing his right stirrup early in the event.