Frankie Lor Fu-chuen appears determined not to let John Size run away with this season’s trainers’ championship after landing a double at Sha Tin on Saturday.
Lor cut his former mentor’s lead in the premiership to two after En Pointe and Beauty Live provided rare highlights for punters as winning favourites on a day when outsiders held sway.
Beauty Live created a huge impression when becoming Lor’s 45th winner of the season, shooting clear of his rivals to win the Class Three Peach Blossom Handicap (1,400m), and the trainer feels there is a chance his four-year-old could make a possible Derby contender.
“I’ll race him one more time to see if he can get more of a rating and maybe try him over 1,600 metres next start,” Lor said. “I think he can handle a little bit further, no problem.
“I was worried about the draw and he jumped slow, so we took him back and we were a little bit lucky in the straight.”
Earlier on the card, Lor’s En Pointe waved goodbye to Class Four company when clinging on in a desperate finish to salute in the Daffodil Handicap (1,400m).
It looked as if the warm favourite was going to record a clear-cut victory 200m out but Lor’s runner was all out at the finish to hold off the late challenge of Plikclone by a short-head.
“Just maybe one more stride and he loses,” Lor said. “This time, he needed to carry a big weight. Maybe, later on, he will get over more distance.”
After riding nine winners in the last two meetings at Happy Valley, Zac Purton would have gone into the meeting hoping that he could further close the lead on Joao Moreira, but En Pointe would prove his only victory on the day.
The Magic Man’s lead is now down to eight and he is now halfway through his six-meeting suspension.
The highest-quality race on the card, the Class Two Rose Handicap (1,600m), went the way of the Tony Cruz-trained California Ten.
Unbeaten in two starts for Irish trainer Jim Bolger in 2020, the five-year-old has taken his form to a new level in Hong Kong this season, with this victory his first in Class Two company.
In a race that favoured those coming from off the speed with the first three home racing at the rear of the field for most of the way, California Ten showed an impressive turn of foot down the outside to win by three-quarters of a length.
Cruz was thrilled to pick up a second victory of the season with the galloper after an unlucky run on his last start and revealed his charge had benefited from a spell at Conghua.
“He’d had a little setback before this run, had to have some medication and in time everything heals,” Cruz said.
Difficult day for punters at Sha Tin as massive outsiders Texas Moon and Right Honourable shine
“It’s a big help for horses in Conghua, for horses with problems that’s the place to go for rehabilitation.”
Cruz is confident in California Ten’s ability over a mile and is likely to keep him at that trip for the foreseeable future.
“The programme is easy for him and I’ll stick to the mile as he’s best over that distance, so wherever a mile comes up next, he’ll be there,” Cruz said.