Star Sydney-based jockey James McDonald will make a flying visit to Hong Kong to ride Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s Glorious Forever in the Group One Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m) next weekend.
Lor was able to pull off the coup with a host of rival trainers vying for McDonald’s services as he looks to chase down John Size in the trainers’ championship.
The New Zealand native holds an unassailable lead in the New South Wales jockeys’ premiership and was this week the first rider to reach 100 winners in a season in the last 12 years.
The 26-year-old already has 40 Group Ones under his belt and can lay claim to being one of the top jockeys in the world, boasting a 21 per cent metro strike rate.
“This time we have put James McDonald on, which will help him a lot,” Lor said. “Last time [in the QE II Cup] I asked him to ride but he said he already had a horse in the race and then before we entered the horse this time he rung my son and said he wanted to ride it.”
After running no further than 2,000m in his career, Lor said there were question marks over Glorious Forever’s ability to run 2,400m but he was confident he could adapt to the change.
With full-brother Time Warp also in the race, Lor said it was inevitable that the Tony Cruz-trained six-year-old would roll forward, regardless of his barrier.
“I think he will try to roll like last time, even if he gets a wide draw, you can see that from last time,” he said.
“I think he can handle the distance, it should be no problem really. This time Time Warp will go to the front so we can just sit.
“I don’t want to have the head-to-head [battle], it doesn’t work. It is at the point now when his brother is in the same race, we have no choice [but to take a sit].”
McDonald will also ride Lor’s consistent five-year-old Vincy on the day.
Such is his standing among Hong Kong trainers, John Moore compared McDonald to his Hall Of Fame father George, who is regarded as one of the greatest jockeys ever, after they paired up to win on Champion’s Day with Monica.
Along with Glorious Forever, Lor will saddle up Group One winner Dark Dream, with Joao Moreira expected to ride.
The four-year-old has won over 2,200m in Australia, leaving his trainer in no doubt of his ability to see out the 2,400m trip.
After producing his best Hong Kong performance on a rain-affected track, Lor said he was hoping for rain to give his star import the best chance.
“It should be Joao riding Dark Dream,” Lor said. “I am sure he can handle the distance, if it is raining it should be better but we can’t control that.”
Despite nominating two horses, South African trainer Mike de Kock will not have a presence in the race, opting to leave both Majestic Mambo and Marinaresco in Dubai.
Japanese-trained Happy Grin will be in the race, however, with trainer Junji Tanaka confirming they will make the trip to Hong Kong.
While Happy Grin does not have Group-level success, the galloper has form behind star mare Almond Eye after finishing seventh in the Japan Cup (2,400m).
Expected jockeys for Hong Kong horses:
Dark Dream – Joao Moreira
Eagle Way – Neil Callan
Exultant – Zac Purton
Glorious Forever – James McDonald
Mongolian King – Umberto Rispoli
Pakistan Star – Matthew Chadwick
Rise High – Vincent Ho Chak-yiu
Time Warp – Karis Teetan