As far as first season efforts go, they don’t come much better than Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s rookie campaign, in fact there has been only one better, and the apprentice is fast closing in on his master John Size’s all-time record for most wins by a freshman trainer.
A dirt track double with Furious Pegasus and Turin Redstar at Sha Tin on Wednesday night left Lor with 51 wins, just seven short of Size’s record set in 2001-02, but way ahead of his own preseason expectations.
“I would have been happy with 20 or 30 winners,” Lor said. “I had a lot of transfer horses and you don’t really know what they can do, but a lot have been able to give me two or three wins and that has helped me a lot.”
Furious Pegasus (Chad Schofield) is one of those transfer success stories and Lor said the six-year-old could now add a fourth win for the season up in Class Four.
“He had done a good job to win two already but he seemed tired after that last run and he has had a few leg issues before, so we gave him a break,” Lor said. “Let’s see, but the way he raced tonight maybe he can handle himself up in grade.”
Turin Redstar (Derek Leung Ka-chun) switched to the dirt and up to 1,650m for the first time but his polytrack form in England had the trainer confident.
“And his 1,200m trial on the dirt was good,” Lor said. “We have to see what the handicapper will do with him, but it is good to have some different options.”
However, the win came at a cost to his jockey, with Leung suspended for two meetings and fined HK$40,000.
Lor wasn’t the only one celebrating a milestone at the meeting as Joao Moreira’s double took him past 100 wins in a season for the fourth time.
His victories aboard Divine Boy and Remarkable pushed him to 101 winners from 68 meetings, the longest it has taken him to reach triple figures, although it did extend his jockeys’ championship lead over Zac Purton – who was winless on the night – to eight.
Moreira said it isn’t just this season he has struggled with a case of the “nervous nineties”.
“It’s always been a number, 100, where I’ve struggled once I’ve approached it, I have found it hard to go past it,” he said. “That’s been the case for quite some time, whether at home, in Singapore or here. I really noted it five or six years ago in Singapore when Leticia Dragon, one of the trainers down there, made a comment about it. She is absolutely right too – I hit a flat spot.”
David Ferraris praised Hong Kong apprentice Victor Wong Chun after veteran Hearts Keeper won for the eighth time in his career but there was another claimer – his son Luke – the trainer was just as thrilled for after a win earlier in the day in South Africa.
Luke Ferraris has now ridden three winners in his homeland since breaking through for his first career triumph last Tuesday.
“He rode for Michael Roberts, one of the greatest jockeys of all time in South Africa and now a top trainer,” Ferraris said. “He is riding for his grandfather, but that was his first outside win.”
On Hearts Keeper, Ferraris spoke with affection for a horse who has won eight races without his rating dropping below 48 or above 66.
“He is just such a beautiful old horse, so sound and I will make sure he goes to a magnificent home when he is retired, but he still might have something to offer yet,” Ferraris said, adding that Wong’s rapidly evaporating 10-pound claim is likely to be used when the course specialist goes back into Class Three.
“He struggles in Class Three, but with the kid on with a very light weight up in grade maybe he can win again,” Ferraris said.
Jockey Vincent Ho Chak-yiu book ended the card with upset wins, Happy Sound scoring at 25-1 in the opener and All Best Friends stunning punters at 55-1 in the last.
Goldie Flanker (Karis Teetan) benefited from a frantic early speed to score a come-from-behind Class Four win that trainer Paul O’Sullivan didn’t feel was likely in the middle stages.
“It didn’t look good, I admit I was a bit worried, but that speed told in the end,” he said.