Frankie Lor Fu-chuen may have swept this season’s lucrative four-year-old series but his thoughts have quickly moved to the next one with his acquisition of former Australian galloper Thinkin’ Big.
The three-year-old, who comes to Hong Kong with a rating of 90, is a two-time Group Three winner in Australia and also boasts a Group One placing under star trainer Gai Waterhouse.
Lor’s quest for back-to-back success in the four-year-old series will begin on Sunday with Thinkin’ Big having his first start in the Class Two Staunton Handicap (1,600m).
While history suggests the gelding will have a tough time of things on debut, Lor is confident he can make his presence felt once he settles into life at Sha Tin.
“There is not much left in the season so there weren’t many options for him, that is why we are racing on Sunday,” he said.
“I think the 1,600m will be OK for him, I trialled him just two times where he was OK but it was on the all-weather track, not turf. First-up and back on turf, he should be good.”
He will start from barrier five under jockey Umberto Rispoli.
Thinkin’ Big comes to Hong Kong with impressive form over distances from 1,100m to 2,000m.
His only failure in Australia came in the Group One Victoria Derby (2,500m) where he finished a distant 12th after starting a $3.8 favourite.
Lor’s dominance of the series, which saw three of his five horses to take part either win or place, had owners queuing up to own a horse with him for next season, presenting an embarrassment of riches for the second-year trainer.
“I had owners contacting me after the Derby saying they were looking for a horse to get into next season’s one, so that is how I got Thinkin’ Big,” he said.
“Tim Clark rode this horse in Australia and he told me he should be good, that he had potential to get into the Derby.”
Thinkin’ Big will square off with his stablemate Superich, who is looking to end his frustrating season on a high.
After winning three of his first five career starts, the four-year-old went into the Classic Mile as a $4.8 second favourite but disappointed, finishing seventh.
Since then, he has had three starts but has been unable to fill a placing in any of them, however connections are still eyeing off a HK$850,000 “high achievement bonus” available to horses younger than five who win in Class Two.
“It looks like it will be the last race of the season for him,” Lor said. “Because he is still four, the owners would like to get the bonus for winning before the season finishes.”
Also in the race is John Size’s Hezthewonforus, who returned from a 10-month lay-off with a wire-to-wire victory over 1,400m three weeks ago.
While he is one of a few of horses stepping up in distance, they will face beaten Derby runners in Harmony Victory and Enrichment.
Fresh off the back of a double at Wednesday night’s Sha Tin dirt meeting, Lor will saddle up eight horses on Sunday including last start winner Marvelous World in the Class Four D’Aguilar Handicap (1,000m).
While jockey Zac Purton rode the gelding to victory last month, Lor’s apprentice Alfred Chan Ka-hei will take the reins with the duo looking to capitalise on his 10-pound claim.