Freshman trainer Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s progress might have slowed mid-season but he showed on Sunday that he is still producing coming winners.
Lor’s double on Sunday took him to 36 wins and he is well on the way to producing the best debut performance since John Size’s first-year championship, needing just nine more wins to eclipse Caspar Fownes’ tally of 44.
Lor charged out of the gates with 30 wins before new year and has landed just six more since as those horses found their marks, but Sunday’s racing showed that it isn’t all over as new horses come on line.
Four-year-old Champion Pride had plenty of support at his debut here a month earlier at Happy Valley but, after showing pace, he disappointed with his finishing effort and ended up eighth.
Lor took him back to the trials before Sunday’s race down the straight course at Sha Tin and this time he put in a better effort. Not the best to begin, he got a bump from another runner, relegating him to a rearward position, but Champion Pride knuckled down in the final 300m to finish third to Mr Lumieres.
Based on his form in England, the 1,000m was too short for Champion Pride but the run was enough to indicate that the gelding is finding his way and his winning turn shouldn’t be far away.
The first half of the season wasn’t quite the same for the other first season trainer Michael Freedman, but the expectation is that he will be coming on strong in the second half and if he finishes as well as Fiama did on Sunday, he will be in good shape.
He has produced quite a few horses lately with promises of coming wins and there was another on Sunday when Fiama wound up seventh to Wishful Thinker at his first local appearance.
The winner ran on strongly but Fiama’s final 400m was even faster, especially the final 200m of that finishing run.
Fiama only raced three times in Australia, winning at 1,400m and tried up to 1,600m, and he looks like he could require a mile before he clicks here too but has clearly started off the right way.