Virtus Star will attempt to pull off an unlikely feat at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, with Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s five-year-old shooting for four Class Five wins in a row in the Neptune Handicap (1,650m).
It’s been a remarkable form turnaround for the son of Sebring, who started the season on the minimum rating of 20 after beginning his Hong Kong career on a mark of 52 in 2018.
After 14 winless starts for David Hall – in which his only placing came in the last of those runs – Virtus Star was consistent enough during five starts under Lor’s care last season without saluting.
After consecutive seconds to begin this term, Virtus Star finally broke his maiden at start 22 and went on to reel off a hat-trick in the space of 36 days.
With his winning margins measuring three-quarters of a length, a neck and a short-head, Virtus Star has only been penalised five points for each success and hence finds himself on a rating of 36 and in the hunt for a fourth win in the cellar grade.
“When his rating got to 20 I thought he could win two races but now he is getting much better,” Lor said, adding that three stints in Conghua since July have made all the difference for his charge.
“I’ve been sending him to Conghua and it turned out to be the best place for him. It made him more relaxed and he came back a bit stronger than last season. I think he can win again.”
Virtus Star’s three wins have all been at the extended Valley mile but all have come from gate six or lower, with Alexis Badel – who has been aboard throughout the streak – to have his work cut out from barrier 11.
Nitro Express, Winners Brother and Wonder Brahma are among those who have finished behind Virtus Star in recent weeks and will be looking to capitalise on a favourable swing in the weights come Wednesday night.
Lor saddles up seven runners at the midweek meeting as he aims to carry on from his treble at Sha Tin on Sunday and continue the impressive form which sees him sitting second in the trainers’ premiership, four wins off leader Caspar Fownes.
The progressive Kinda Cool steps up in grade for the Class Three Venus Handicap (1,200m) and the four-year-old is looking to maintain his perfect record under Joao Moreira after the Brazilian piloted him to victory at the first time of asking last start.
The Magic Man has barrier two at his disposal, something Lor is thankful for.
“Sometimes when he has a bad draw he’s not easy to handle, this draw should be good for him,” the trainer said.
Rewarding Together is also chasing back-to-back wins after taking to the Valley with aplomb to salute on his city-track debut four weeks ago.
The gelding will also be ridden by Moreira and jumps from gate three in the Class Four Saturn Handicap (1,200m).
“He is a big, strong horse and I think he’s really suited to Happy Valley, he looks to be travelling better than last time,” Lor said.