Some of Hong Kong’s fastest growing stock will combine on Sunday when jockey Silvestre de Sousa partners Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s Derby hopeful Dark Dream.
Lor has marked himself as a future champion trainer in Hong Kong and has a young arsenal of horses to match with a flood of talent coming into his stable after his record breaking debut season in 2017-18.
Despite only riding in Hong Kong on a three month contract, De Sousa has enjoyed a dream run, recently eclipsing his seven-month British prize money amount in the space of seven weeks in Hong Kong.
Remarkably, De Sousa’s victory on Glorious Forever in the Group One Hong Kong Cup earlier this month is the only time the pair have combined in their careers.
With champion jockey Zac Purton suspended, De Sousa gets the opportunity on Dark Dream in the Class Two Long Ke Handicap (2,000m) on Sunday.
Travelling a well-worn path to the Hong Kong Derby after winning the Group One Queensland Derby in Australia earlier this year, Lor believes Dark Dream is currently his premier four-year-old at this stage of the season.
The Group One winner was impressive on debut during the Hong Kong International Races over 1,600m and Lor believes he will be further suited by a longer trip.
“Dark Dream ran a good race first time out but I think the time was a bit slow so that’s why I’ve put him up to 2000m,” he said.
“Zac [Purton] came back to me and said he needed a little bit further. The slow pace meant that when some horses went past him he pulled a bit, so I think he will improve for that experience. The jockey galloped him for the first time on Thursday and the horse looked good.”
Despite boasting a host of four-year-old Classic Series hopefuls which includes the likes of Furore, Heavenly Thought, Superich and Kings Shield, Lor said Dark Dream has the runs on the board.
“At this moment, Dark Dream’s form is better than my other four-year-olds but there are still two or three months to go, so we’ll see,” he said.
De Sousa and Lor will again combine in the Griffin Trophy (1,400m) when they look to get Witness Hunter his third win on the trot.
Despite the three-year-old restricted HK$2 million race having just eight starters, it is not short on quality, with some of Hong Kong’s best up-and-coming horses.
While Lor’s gelding has won two from four starts, he believes he is yet to race over his best distance.
With a month between each of his three runs this season, Lor has opted to take a cautious approach.
“He’s only a three-year-old so I gave him a break – more than a month – after his last run. I gave him two more barrier trials and then straight to this race,” he said. “He’s in good form.”
With a strong hand looming for this season’s Derby in March, Lor has also got one eye on next season’s with the recent acquisition of young Australian stayer Thinkin’ Big.
The three-year-old was sent around as favourite in last month’s Group One Victoria Derby (2,500m) after winning four from six starts prior, however finished a disappointing 12th. Lor said he expected the gelding to arrive in his stable in January.