Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s boom four-year-old Dark Dream steps out for his Hong Kong debut this weekend and the second-year trainer says he will know more about whether he has a Derby prospect on his hands after Sunday’s race.
Dark Dream follows in the footsteps of Eagle Way and Ruthven, who both run in Sunday’s Longines Hong Kong Vase, as horses to have been sold to Hong Kong after winning the Group One Queensland Derby (2,200m), with Ruthven starting his career with John Moore before transferring to Lor’s yard this season.
Dark Dream, who won four times in Australia, has trialled twice since arriving in Hong Kong and Lor expects a solid showing from the promising gelding in the Class Two Maurice Handicap (1,600m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
“He’s trialled twice and he’s looked good. I can’t say he’s 100 per cent but he’s in good form at this moment and he will show something on Sunday,” Lor said. “I have confidence in the horse.”
It is a big day for Lor as he chases his first Group One victory with a three-strong hand in the Hong Kong International Races and Dark Dream shapes as the next piece in the puzzle as he builds towards becoming a top-line trainer.
It will be Dark Dream’s first run since winning June’s Queensland Derby at Doomben and Lor says the horse has adapted well to life at Sha Tin, but won’t know until he runs if he’s settled well enough to be aimed for Hong Kong’s Derby in March.
“Looking towards the Derby, I will have a look this Sunday how he races and then I can decide,” Lor said.
Zac Purton takes the ride and Lor knows he’ll get an honest assessment from the Australian champion. “Zac can tell me something after the race,” Lor said.
Dark Dream comes up against John Size’s progressive type Insayshable – a winner in Class Two this season – and the John Moore-trained Good Standing, who drops back from Class One in search of his maiden Hong Kong victory.
There is also another Derby winner in the field, with the Tony Cruz-trained Helene Leadingstar stepping out for the first time after winning at Group One level in the South Australian Derby (2,500m) in May.
Outside HKIR runners Mr Stunning (Sprint), Glorious Forever (Cup) and Ruthven, Lor has three other starters on Sunday, saddling up Noble De Love, Kings Shield and Gameplayer Emperor.
Lor is yet to extract a win out of Noble De Love since receiving him from Manfred Man Ka-leung at the beginning of last season, but he has a solid second-up record and could give a nice sight in the Class Four Jim and Tonic Handicap (1,400m).
Kings Shield is another having his first start in Hong Kong and the former John Gosden-trained gelding lines up in the Class Two Lord Kanaloa Handicap (1,200m), while Gameplayer Emperor is chasing his first win at start number nine in the Class Three Highland Reel Handicap (1,400m).