Zac Purton and Joao Moreira fought out a thrilling 3-3 draw but it was Frankie Lor’s turn to shine in the spotlight at Sha Tin as he set a new benchmark for first-year trainers.
While everyone had one eye on the race for the jockeys’ championship, it was Lor’s day as he collected a double to land his 59th winner of the season, eclipsing the mark previously set by his former mentor John Size.
He equalled Size when Simply Brilliant held off the fast-finishing Hezthewonforus before taking the record outright when the hugely impressive Glorious Forever streeted his rivals.
“I am very proud of reaching this number, but it is a little bit different because when the boss got 58, there were only 78 meetings,” Lor said.
“Now, there are 88 meetings and we are already at 81 so it has taken me longer. I’m still very proud though. My team has done a great job and I’m so grateful to the owners, too. I hope I still have more wins left in me before the end of the season.
“When I got my licence last year, I would have been very happy with 20 or 30 winners, but then the horses arrived and I thought I had some that were rated nicely, so I’ve been chasing hard for a high number since then.”
Purton rode both of Lor’s runners to victory and was full of praise for the trainer.
“Frankie has done a terrific job this season, he’s a hard worker and he’s a credit to himself,” he said.
“To absorb the information on the way from all the stables he’s worked for and to go and put it into place for himself and to get the results he’s got is an outstanding achievement.”
The duo look set to celebrate more winners together with Glorious Forever highlighting his enormous potential as he demolished his opponents in the Class Three Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Road Handicap (1,800m).
The four-year-old is a full brother to Time Warp and he did his best impersonation of the dual Group One winner, leading all the way to win by four lengths virtually untouched.
“He looks a really nice horse,” Lor said. “Is he as good as his brother? I hope so. His last run was good and he improved from that, but I didn’t think he could win that easily.
“He’s going up to Class Two after that, so we will see – we might run him again this season, but we could just wait until next season because we will have a really nice horse then.
It was just Glorious Forever’s third start in Hong Kong (he won two races in England before making the move) and Purton thinks there is plenty to like about him.
“He was very good today, there could be plenty of upside to him,” he said.
“He’s a lightly raced horse here in Hong Kong, he’s got a good racing style and he looks as if he still has a bit of improvement in him.
“He gave me a good feel today, I was quite taken by him. So lets hope he can continue on the path he’s on next season.”
Like a heavyweight title fight, Purton and Moreira exchanged blows throughout but ultimately the status quo remains with the Australian maintaining his five-win advantage with seven meetings remaining.
The Magic Man got things started by taking his 700th Hong Kong winner with the Michael Freedman-trained Lightning Steed, but Purton responded by narrowly edging his rival with Me Tsui Yu-sak’s Sky Treasure in the second.
Moreira fired back with Team Spirit in the third before Purton collected a running double with Lor’s duo, while the Brazilian finished off the day on a good note with Top Beautiful.
“I was hoping to walk away with the same lead I had at the start of the day, so things have gone well,” Purton said.