To be mentioned in the same breath as Mr Stunning is about as good a compliment you can pay an up-and-coming sprinter in Hong Kong and Frankie Lor Fu-chuen did just that with gun youngster Winning Dreamer at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The four-year-old stormed to his fifth win from as many starts in the Class Two Penfold Park Handicap (1,200m), leaving Lor comparing the son of Deep Field to the best horse he’s ever trained.
“I’d be really happy to see another Mr Stunning,” Lor said. “When you get a new horse and he wins and then he steps up and steps up, the whole stable gets excited.
A perfect five.— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) November 22, 2020
The unbeaten Winning Dreamer extends his streak to five with an impressive Class 2 success in the Sha Tin nightcap for @Vincenthocy & Frankie Lor. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/lKcEzNfR4X
“It’s hard to say [if he can be as good as Mr Stunning] because he’s only had five starts and he still looks like a little bit of a baby – when he walks in the parade ring he just looks around everywhere. When he’s more mature I think he should be better.”
Saluting in Class Two at your first time of asking is no mean feat but Winning Dreamer answered the challenge with aplomb, putting a length and a half on proven performer Duke Wai to win in fine fashion.
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His time of 1:08.14 was only .14 of a second slower than the time Hot King Prawn clocked in the Group Two Jockey Club Sprint five races earlier.
“He keeps improving so I’m happy,” Lor said. “In the straight, usually he can come quick and pass the horses, but in Class Two he needed time to pass the front-runners.”
Lor said January’s Classic Mile is not completely off the table for Winning Dreamer but he will be equally happy sticking to sprint trips.
“It depends on the horse, if he stays relaxed maybe we can try. Only a mile, 1,800m is too long for him, so I need to have a look and talk to the owners and jockey,” Lor said, adding that he is yet to decide on his immediate plans for the precocious speedster.
“Maybe [I will stick to 1,200m] but I have to look at the programme, in Class Two sometimes there’s not too many races.
“I haven’t got anything planned [for his next run] because at this moment [whether we go to] 1,200m or 1,400m, I need to talk to the jockey and also the owners.”
Hayes Blessed as Harmony salutes
It was a case of better late than never for David Hayes and Blake Shinn when the talented Harmony N Blessed bolted in on debut at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Hayes had long suspected the four-year-old was above average but was forced to wait longer than he would have liked after he played up in the barriers at Happy Valley a fortnight ago, forcing him to be scratched.
Returning for take two on Sunday, Harmony N Blessed had the race all but over at the top of the straight, comfortably keeping his rivals at bay in the Class Four Morse Park Handicap (1,200m) with an easy front-running display.
Harmony N Blessed puts a barrier mishap behind him with an impressive debut win, making all under @blake_shinn for David Hayes. @lindsayparkrace #HKracing pic.twitter.com/LVYuDvfft8— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) November 22, 2020
“He certainly has plenty of upside, I think he will go through his classes quite impressively,” Hayes said. “We will keep him to sprinting, he is a very fast horse. He was very professional today and he didn’t give favourite punters too many worries.”
With his win, Harmony N Blessed became the first “E” brand horse (those who arrived in Hong Kong this season) to win.
“Because of Covid, a lot of them came in the heat, it was the wrong time of the year – July – so they have taken a little bit of time to get there,” Hayes said. “To win first time out being an ‘E’ horse was a very good effort, he was the first in Hong Kong to do it. I thought the time was pretty impressive too.”
Callan continues charge to IJC slot
Neil Callan is holding the sixth Hong Kong slot for the International Jockeys’ Championship on December 9 after his third double from the past four meetings.
While Joao Moreira, Zac Purton, Karis Teetan and Vincent Ho Chak-yiu are locked in to represent the home side next month and Alexis Badel has a firm grip on the fifth slot, the final place will be decided at Happy Valley on Wednesday night and remains wide open.
With apprentice Jerry Chau Chun-lok (17 winners) ineligible, Neil Callan and Vagner Borges (11 each) look set to duke it out for the last spot and the Irishman holds the edge by virtue of having 12 seconds to the Brazilian’s six.
.@neilcallan78 carries on a fine run of form as Hong Kong International Sale graduate Full Power takes out the Sha Tin opener. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/09zm46CK9T— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) November 22, 2020
Callan has stormed into contention in the past fortnight, following up his doubles at the past two Valley meetings with victories aboard Full Power and Heza Beauty at Sha Tin on Sunday afternoon.
“The last four meetings I’ve had three doubles, which is nice,” he said. “Heza Beauty is going the right way. I know the owners are quite keen to get his rating up to qualify for the four-year-old series – he’s learning every time.”
It wasn’t all good news for the Irishman, who also copped a two-meeting suspension, but that will come after the international meeting. Chau was the other rider hit with a ban and he will miss those two feature days.
A fierce drive from Hong Kong's champion jockey @zpurton lifts Racing Fighter over the line in first ahead of a tenacious Mighty Valor. #HKracing pic.twitter.com/mBQU60nAT6— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) November 22, 2020
Purton shakes off another slump
Zac Purton put paid to his second considerable drought of the season with his victory aboard Racing Fighter in the Class Three Hong Kong Park Handicap (1,200m).
It was Purton’s 33rd ride since his win aboard Holy Heart on November 8, with this run of outs falling one ride short of the dry spell he snuffed out last month.
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It has been unfamiliar territory for Purton, whose droughts of 32 and 33 this season are the longest he has had to endure since withstanding 34 fruitless mounts across September and October 2016.
And after going under aboard $1.90 favourite Exultant in the Group Two Jockey Club Cup in race seven, where he finished second to stablemate Furore, the victory aboard Racing Fighter in the very next event was a welcome relief for the star Australian.