Dual Group One winner Mr Stunning is not getting any younger but Frankie Lor Fu-chuen believes his battle-hardened star is on the cusp of returning to his dominant best which saw him rated one of the world’s best sprinters.
The seven-year-old lines up in Sunday’s Group One Centenary Sprint Cup (1,200m) in what will be just his fifth start in a year after suffering a setback in April.
After winning the coveted Hong Kong Sprint for the second year running in 2018, Mr Stunning was headed by John Size’s consistent Beat The Clock twice in a row before being forced to withdraw from the Chairman’s Sprint Prize with a lame front leg.
He showed signs of life in December’s Hong Kong Sprint after a disappointing first-up run and Lor believes his top-rated galloper is close to his best.
“I think he is really close to what he was producing last season, very close,” he said.
“We saw his first start, it was not very good but we were happy to forgive it because he had a long time off and he drew outside.
“In the second start, we thought he would be better because had a trial before and he trialled good. “You could see he finished off the race very well, he got to within three quarters of a length.”
Lor admitted he was hoping to get as much as possible out of his ageing warrior before the end of the season as there were no guarantees as to how he would perform beyond that.
“I think this season should be no problem for him, there is still life in his legs but next season, when he is an eight-year-old, it is an unknown,” he said. “We would like him to run well before then.”
Star Australian jockey Hugh Bowman will again ride Mr Stunning after striking up a relationship with Lor following their four-year-old series heroics with Furore last season.
Lor said he was introduced to Bowman via Furore’s owners and has been happy to turn to him again with his premier sprinter this season after they teamed up to win both the Classic Mile and Derby in 2019.
“We met through Furore’s owner, they knew him very well and they liked him very much, so they asked him to ride Furore first and then we started talking so we got him for Mr Stunning this season as well,” Lor said.
Furore has been inconsistent this season but Lor said a return to his favoured 1,600m trip in the Group One Stewards’ Cup could bring out the best in his Derby winner.
With just six other competitors in what is a disappointing Group One field, Lor said he expected his five-year-old to thrive in a race that is certain to have a solid tempo thanks to the likes of Beauty Generation, Rattan and Ka Ying Star.
“This horse, 1,600m to 2,000m is no problem for him, he is versatile at them both so he should run well with the speed in the race,” he said.