Lakeshore Eagle shoots for four consecutive victories at Sha Tin on Sunday and trainer Chris So Wai-yun knows he is the hope of a stable that has struggled for Class Two victories and Group exposure in recent years.
Lakeshore Eagle is one of only three horses to win at Class Two level for So since the start of the 2017-18 season.
He hasn’t had a Group runner since Fabulous One in October 2018 and has never won a Group contest in Hong Kong, something the affable trainer hopes his honest six-year-old can change.
“I really want him to perform for the stable. We haven’t had many Class Two winners in the last few years and I really hope this one can make a difference,” he said.
“We are expecting him to show more this year and we want to try and win a Group race with him. We hope he can at least go to a Group Three, we expect him to keep improving.”
The first hurdle is Sunday’s Class Two Cheung Shan Handicap (1,600m), with Lakeshore Eagle looking to improve his record in the grade to two from two.
Karis Teetan retains the ride after teaming up with the gelding for three wins from as many attempts but the pair have drawn less than ideally in gate 12, with the Mauritian likely to look for cover near the back of the field.
The likes of Assimilate, Excellent Proposal and Savvy Nine will ensure a willing contest but So is confident his charge is primed for the challenge.
“The draw is not ideal but he should run well. He is healthy and has put on weight, which is good for him,” So said.
“Even this year when we kept training and kept trialling, he still maintained the weight which is a good sign.
“He had a couple of gallops under Teetan and he was quite happy. A couple in there are competitive, I think John Size’s horse [Excellent Proposal] is quite good.”
While So’s last five Class Two successes have come thanks to Lakeshore Eagle’s effort in June and a pair of wins from each of Mr Croissant and Classic Emperor, if you trawl a little bit further back through the record books you will find Hang’s Decision saluting in the grade in July 2017.
Now a nine-year-old, Hang’s Decision is rated 26 points lower than when posting the biggest win of his career and lines up in Sunday’s Class Four Shek Wai Kok Handicap (1,400m), where has drawn gate one.
“He should run well. He’s a nine-year-old but he doesn’t seem nine years old, he’s still pretty good and in the last two years he has dropped a lot so he should be competitive,” So said.
“This time with a better draw he should run well,” So added of Hang’s Decision, who finished off solidly despite travelling wide without cover from gate 11 when running eighth a fortnight ago.
And So’s most recent big-race runner also goes around this weekend, with 2019 Derby sixth placegetter Tianchi Monster stepping out in the Class Three Lai King Handicap (1,600m).
“In Class Three he should be very competitive. I think over 1,400m [on opening day] he ran well but it was still a bit short. I think over 1,600m he should run better,” So said.