Popular trainer Frankie Lor Fu-chuen continued his bounce-back season with his first treble in almost 18 months on Wednesday night, jumping up to second place on the championship table with a dominant display at Happy Valley.
After storming onto the scene with 65 winners in each of his first two campaigns, Lor returned to the pack somewhat in 2019-20, having to settle for 44 victories – a good mark for most, but not up to his previous standards.
The 54-year-old has put that behind him and returned with a bang, notching 11 winners from the first 14 meetings to reach double figures a month and a half quicker than he did last season.
“Last season, I had horses who had reached their rating and then the new horses weren’t that good – health was also an issue,” Lor said. “I think we’re in a better position – better than last season anyway.”
Lor kicked things off with Virtus Star (Alexis Badel) in the Class Five Waterfall Bay Handicap (1,650m), before combining with star jockey Joao Moreira on We The South in the fourth race and Heavenly Thought in the seventh.
Virtus Star broke his maiden at his 22nd run, Lor paying credit to the Jockey Club’s training facility in mainland China for helping to get the best out of him.
“When I got this horse I thought it would be easy enough to win in Class Five but he was a little bit weak and it took longer than I hoped,” he said. “I took him back to Conghua and he’s come back with two seconds and a win, so Conghua was the key for him.”
We The South overcame a wide barrier to lead all the way in the Class Four Shek Pai Wan Handicap (1,000m) and notch his third win, and first since joining Lor’s stable after a season with John Moore.
“He can be a little bit nervous – as we saw before the race,” Lor said. “He drew 11 in this race so I told Joao to lead if he can. He did a good job – he was able to lead by himself and was too strong.”
While Moreira had two for Lor, he also collected a treble after guiding the John Size-trained Incanto Prepared to victory in the third race.
The most exciting win of the night came via the aptly named Explosive Witness, who absolutely flew home late to nail Fabulous Eight right on the line.
Caspar Fownes’ sprinter was slow away but grew wings in the straight, clocking a lightning 21.95 seconds for his final 400m – a full 1.1 seconds quicker than the runner-up.
It has taken a long time to see the best of Explosive Witness after a litany of issues – including a suspensory injury and a fractured leg – threatened to derail his career.
“He’s a horse who has had so many problems in the past and I’m happy to say we’ve finally been able to train him. We saw what he did at the end of last season when he won that race and now he’s gone and done it again,” Fownes said.
“He’ll get into Class Two now and with the right run he can get an opportunity and show his class. He’s a really nice horse. As long as he stays sound, we can have some fun with him.”
Karis Teetan was aboard Explosive Witness, which was the second leg of a running double, having saluted on the Dennis Yip Chor-hong-trained Murray’s Partners the race prior.
Those results meant the Mauritian jumped clear of Zac Purton and into outright second place on the jockeys’ championship with 18 winners for the term, six behind Moreira.
It was another dirty night for Purton, who has now gone winless at the past three meetings and is two victories off Teetan. His run of outs has extended to 30 – his longest losing streak in four years.
Badel was the other rider to go home with multiple winners, the Frenchman lifting Danny Shum Chap-shing’s Grateful Heart across the line in the Class Three Po Chong Wan Handicap (1,200m) to go with his earlier success with Virtus Star.