Frankie Lor Fu-chuen says his dirt specialist Kings Shield is ready to fire at Sha Tin on Wednesday night as he looks to rediscover his winning form after colic surgery stopped him in his tracks.
Lor believes the five-year-old heads into the Class Two Egret Handicap (1,650m) at the top of his game and will square off with stablemate Glorious Artist and other key rivals Buddies and Mongolian King.
The savvy handler was prolific on the all-weather surface last season with 18 wins but has only managed one this term.
While Glorious Artist heads into the race as a proven performer in the grade, Lor said Kings Shield would be the one to beat of his duo.
“I think Kings Shield is a better chance in the race for me,” Lor said when pressed on who his stable pick is.
“He is coming into form, I really do think he has a good chance and having Zac Purton is always a positive.
“The last time at 1,650m, it was only his third start of the season so he wasn’t fully fit. This time, he will be better at the distance.”
The son of renowned dirt sire Scat Daddy announced himself in Hong Kong towards the end of last season when he bolted in by almost five lengths on the Sha Tin all-weather track, prompting Lor to throw his hat into the ring for the Korea Cup in Seoul alongside Glorious Artist, who went on to run a credible fourth.
While Kings Shield was unable to make the trip to Seoul in September due to colic surgery, Lor says he still has overseas ambitions should he continue to improve as expected.
“Korea or Dubai could be an option in the future because there aren’t many dirt opportunities in Hong Kong, maybe we will look at Dubai,” he said.
With a rating of 92, Glorious Artist has been forced to do most of his racing in Hong Kong on turf this season due to a lack of options.
The six-year-old was able to win under Purton in December and Lor believes he has held his form nicely, despite racing at Happy Valley lately.
“Last time [at Happy Valley] he ran well,” Lor said. “Usually when he is on the turf, he does not go as well, he is a lot better on the dirt, but I thought he still ran a good race considering.
“He has already won this season and he is good on this surface, we know the horse is at his best when he is on the dirt so we need to give him a chance there.”
Lor will also debut promising youngster Strive For Glory in the Class Three Flamingo Handicap (1,200m) on the night.
The three-year-old arrived in Hong Kong with a rating of 78 and has trialled strongly, giving Lor hope he will make his presence felt.
“He is going well, when I trialled him on the dirt in Conghua he showed some ability on it,” he said.
“He is still a colt so sometimes you can see he is having a look around and thinking about it all.
“But he looks good so I thought we would put him first-up on the dirt and give him a test. He is not at his top form just yet but I think he will still go close.”
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