Frankie Lor Fu-chuen landed the 300th winner of his career at Sha Tin on Sunday, snaring a double to draw level with former boss John Size in the race for the trainers’ title.
Into his fifth season as a trainer, Lor moved to 61 winners with his brace and is hurtling towards a personal-best return after hauls of 65, 65, 44 and 65 in his first four campaigns.
“All I think about are the owners who support me, but my former boss will be extremely hard to beat for the championship,” Lor said.
Lor opened his account when the progressive En Pointe saluted as the $3.05 favourite in the Class Three Homestead Handicap (1,400m), ringing up his third win at start six.
Settled just off the leaders by Zac Purton, En Pointe was far too strong for his rivals in the finish and hit the line a length and a half ahead of runner-up Royal Bomb in a performance that gave Lor confidence the four-year-old has more to give.
“He still looks like he’s learning, when he goes past the horse he’s still hanging,” Lor said. “Zac told me the horse is still learning.”
Debutant Sakewin was ultra impressive in the Class Four Peel Handicap (1,200m) after being smashed in betting late to jump the $2.3 favourite.
Taken to the front from the outside barrier of 14 by Joao Moreira, the three-year-old travelled strongly in the lead and pulled away to defeat Rhapsody by two and a quarter lengths.
“He’s a nice horse, he did a good job today. The draw was a bit of a worry, but he did a good job,” Lor said.
“He could go up to Class Three but he’s still not fully mature, so it might be a bit tough for him at this stage.”
Moreira went onto ring up a running double aboard another three-year-old, with Happy Day breaking through at start three in the Class Four Plantation Handicap (1,400m).
Trained by Chris So Wai-yin, Happy Day appreciated the step-up to seven furlongs after a third and a fifth over 1,200m to start his career, finishing over the top of his rivals after travelling near the back of the field to salute by a length and a quarter.
Dragon keeps delivering
Dragon Pride continued his remarkable run of form since joining the Benno Yung Tin-pang stable with another victory, his fourth of the season.
Sent out a $7.55 chance for his return to Class Four in the Pollock Handicap, Dragon Pride was positioned just behind midfield by Matthew Chadwick before being swung into clear air on straightening for home and edging out President’s Choice.
Dragon Pride now has four wins, a second and a third from his six starts for Yung after an uninspiring start to his career, first with Tony Millard and then with David Hayes.
Dragon Pride’s rating had dropped from 52 to 22 entering this season after a best finish of sixth from his first nine runs and the five-year-old reeled off three wins in the cellar grade before Sunday’s success up in class.
“The key thing is the health. The main issue in the past is that we’ve spent some time getting his health back and with the owner’s patience, this year he keeps improving,” Yung said.
Dragon Pride has now saluted over 1,400m and 1,600m at Sha Tin as well as producing to victories over the extended Happy Valley mile and Yung is confident he can still be competitive as he moves towards the middle of Class Four, and knows he’s got plenty of options with his versatile gelding.
“I think now in Class Four he’s still competitive and he can handle both courses well,” the veteran trainer said.
Dragon Pride’s success was the first of a double for Matthew Chadwick, who also took out the finale aboard Francis Lui Kin-wai’s Rock Ya Heart.
Rock Ya Heart’s victory in the Class Three Harlech Handicap (1,200m) was his second at start 11 and followed a string of three consecutive placings.
It wasn’t all positive for Chadwick, however, with the jockey’s double tempered by a two-meeting suspension and a HK$30,000 fine for careless riding aboard Savvy Nine, while Karis Teetan also received a two-meeting ban for his ride on the victorious Science Patch.
Wong back, Currie close
Victor Wong Chun returned to the saddle on Sunday following a three-meeting absence after he tested positive to Covid-19 on March 21.
The 28-year-old had only one ride and wasn’t able to add to his single winner for the campaign, finishing 12th aboard Caspar Fownes-trained long-shot Loyal Ambition.
The Jockey Club has also confirmed that Australian rider Luke Currie will return to the races on April 10 as expected after fracturing his T7 vertebra in a fall during a Sha Tin trial at the beginning of February.