Frankie Lor Fu-chuen hopes if Sunday’s Group Three Premier Cup (1,400m) sees his leading four-year-old Healthy Happy again trade blows with Hong Kong Derby hero Sky Darci, it might be his charge who prevails this time out.
After a stirring battle across the final 300m, only a short-head split the pair in the Group Three Lion Rock Trophy (1,600m) three weeks ago and Healthy Happy is three pounds better off at the weights for this weekend’s contest.
Lor expects the Classic Cup winner, who finished sixth in the Derby, to thrive stepping back to seven furlongs in a race where the likes of Buddies, Voyage Warrior and Lucky Patch could look to assume prominent positions from outside draws.
While Healthy Happy led the Classic Cup at 1,800m, the Derby over 2,000m and the Champions Mile, he sat off Ka Ying Star last time out and was third in the run during a 1,400m victory at Class Two level in December.
“I think at the moment 1,400m and 1,600m are his best distances so it will be suitable for him. I think 1,400m can [be an advantage against Sky Darci] because there should be a lot of pace so we can sit third or fourth,” the trainer said.
“Last time he ran very well but he just couldn’t get past the Derby winner, but I was very happy,” Lor added of Healthy Happy, who has drawn gate five and will be ridden by regular jockey Alexis Badel.
Sky Darci’s sole effort at 1,400m this season was a runner-up finish behind Champion’s Way in a Group Three and the Caspar Fownes-trained gelding, who jumps from barrier two under Joao Moreira, should also have no trouble stepping back in trip.
“I think both horses can handle the distance so it depends on the draw, how the jockeys ride the race and the luck they get,” Lor said.
Champion’s Way also steps back in trip and will be ridden by Karis Teetan from gate one and Mighty Giant races for the first time since his last in April’s Champions Mile, while Rattan, Jolly Banner and Sky Field are among those making the step from six furlongs to seven.
Lor saddles up Reliable Team in the day’s other feature, the Group Three Premier Plate (1,800m), and will also have a close eye on Hurry Hurry Gain in the Class Three Amber Handicap (1,200m).
After a debut second lead to consecutive victories, Hurry Hurry Gain was found with substantial mucus after a long last in his fourth outing.
The three-year-old son of Press Statement has since proven his fitness with a solid trial on the all-weather track and Lor expects him to return to his best.
“Last start he had mucus after racing so that’s why he ran so badly. I needed to clean him up and after his trial he had no mucus,” Lor said.
“Now I’m just worried about Caspar’s horse Killer Bee, he’s really strong.”
Lor also saddles up Tornado Twist in the contest, while he sends around All Beauty, Oscar Glory and Chevalier Prince elsewhere on the card.