Shock Classic Cup winner Derek Leung Ka-chun has snared the ride on Group One Hong Kong Cup champion Glorious Forever in next week’s QE II Cup (2,000m).
Leung will again team up with gun trainer Frankie Lor Fu-chuen as the pair plot to bring down the in-form Tony Cruz stayer Exultant and a host of Japanese raiders for the HK$24 million prize.
After days of uncertainty, Lor confirmed Leung’s booking, who rode the five-year-old in a barrier trial at Sha Tin on Tuesday morning.
Brazilian jockey Silvestre de Sousa had been the regular rider for the horse but is unable to return to Hong Kong on FWD Champions Day due to his contractual arrangements in Britain with King Power Racing.
“We have gone with Derek for Glorious Forever,” Lor said.
“It is quite hard to get the international jockeys at the moment and Derek has been very good to me this season.”
Leung and Lor teamed up earlier this year to win the Classic Cup with $92 chance Mission Tycoon and the trainer said he was happy to repay the faith.
Mission Tycoon wins the Classic Cup at 91-1! Frankie Lor saddles three of the first four - just as in the Classic Mile - but hot favourite Dark Dream can never quite get to the grips with Derek Leung's all-the-way winner. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/NIQqDn0iq5— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) February 17, 2019
Having sat on champion galloper Beauty Generation, Leung is not short on Group One experience, having won the Hong Kong Mile in 2017.
With his full brother Time Warp also heading to the race, Lor said he was hoping to add an extra string to Glorious Forever’s bow by training him to take a sit off the speed if required.
The pair have clashed while racing on the speed on a couple of occasions this season and fallen out to finish at the back of the field.
The issue came to a head in November when the pair went toe-to-toe for most the Group Two Jockey Club Cup (2,000m) before falling out to be eight and 22 lengths off the winner respectively.
“It depends on the draw but I would like him to be able to sit in behind if we draw wide,” Lor said.
“If we get an inside draw then we can go and lead, but otherwise in behind.”
Leung was able to sit behind Time Warp during Tuesday’s 1,200m all-weather trial, and managed to finish strongly wanting to over race around the turn.
Lor will also saddle up Hong Kong Derby (2,000m) winner Furore in the QE II.
Past Derby winners have a strong record in the race with the likes of Werther (2016) and Designs On Rome (2014) going on to win the QE II while Ping Hai Star (2018) and Akeed Mofeed (2013) performed well.
“He has shown he is able to run on strongly if he gets a good spot in the race,” Lor said.
“I have one that can go forward and one that likes to run on, so that is good.
“[Jockey] Hugh [Bowman] has shown he is able to get him to have the turn of foot in the four-year-old series.”
Furore also trialled at Sha Tin, turning in a strong performance under jockey Regan Bayliss, putting him on for next week.
Bowman will ride early Chairman’s Sprint Prize favourite Santa Ana Lane after original jockey Mark Zahra was rubbed out with a 25-meeting suspension in Sydney on Saturday.
Bowman has won five Group Ones in Hong Kong, including the same race in 2017 when he saluted on Lucky Bubbles for Francis Lui Kin-wai.
Santa Ana Lane is booked to arrive from Australia in Hong Kong on Monday night.
Pleased to have engaged @HugeBowman for Santa Ana Lane in next Sunday’s Group 1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize at Sha Tin. Santa worked extremely well at Flemington this morning ahead of his flight to Hong Kong on Monday afternoon. pic.twitter.com/2xSX1s0YnM— Freedman Racing (@FreedmanRacing) April 16, 2019
It comes as trainer Richard Gibson confirmed to the Post that his up-and-coming sprinter Wishful Thinker would miss the same race after running in Dubai’s Al Quoz Sprint (1,200m) last month.
The five-year-old has been in the form of his career this season but appeared to struggle in Dubai, running seventh behind a slow pace.