Frankie Lor Fu-chuen continued his strong start to the defence of his trainers’ title at Happy Valley on Sunday afternoon, drawing within one winner of premiership leader Tony Cruz with a double.

Lor surged to a first championship in his fifth season as a trainer in 2021-22, reeling off 90 winners to finish six clear of his old boss John Size.

The victories of Jade Phoenix and Rewarding Together saw Lor move to 11 winners after 15 meetings of this campaign. While he’s not quite travelling at the rapid pace he was last term, the 56-year-old is pleased with how things have started.

“At this moment I’m happy but there’s a long way to go,” said Lor, who was watching from home after recently testing positive to Covid-19. “It’s really close at the top of the table, it’s tough. I’ll just keep trying my best.”

The premiership logjam sees Cruz in front on 12, Lor level with Francis Lui Kin-wai, while John Size, David Hayes and Ricky Yiu Poon-fai are only one behind them on 10.

It is notoriously difficult to challenge for back-to-back titles in Hong Kong, with many horses on or close to their mark after the previous season’s premiership push, and Lor admitted “a lot will depend on the new blood”.

It was up to a couple of seasoned six-year-olds to keep the wheels turning for Lor at Happy Valley, however, with Jade Phoenix taking out the Class Four Foshan Handicap (1,650m) and Rewarding Together landing the Class Two Guangzhou Handicap (1,200m).

Rewarding Together repaid the faith of punters to salute as the $3.05 favourite, his fifth win from 16 starts.

After jumping from a starting rating of 52 into Class Two company with four wins in his first 11 starts, Rewarding Together saluted at his fifth attempt in the grade and will now find himself on a mark in the mid-90s.

Jockey Matthew Chadwick allowed Rewarding Together to settle midfield on the rail from gate one and he didn’t have to change course at any point, taking the shortest way home to see off Family Folks by three-quarters of a length.

“He’s really good at Happy Valley and draw one was a big help for him. The horse has done really well,” Lor said.

All five of Rewarding Together’s victories have come over the Valley 1,200m and Chadwick was pleased to see everything come together after a couple of seconds at Sha Tin late last season, and a testing first-up 10th from gate 11 last month.

“He’s been running well at Sha Tin, he just drew bad gates and had a lot of excuses,” Chadwick said.

“He’s a very honest horse – he showed that last season when he ran second to Lucky Sweynesse. He’s always had the ability, he’s just been stuck out on a limb all of the time.

“He’s very consistent, he’s very honest. He can handle both tracks. He just needed the luck and conditions and he got that today. It’s good to get a winner for Frankie.”

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While Rewarding Together’s victory was the second leg of Lor’s double, it was the first of Chadwick’s.

The 32-year-old rounded out the card with a running double, taking out the finale aboard the Cruz-trained Street Scream to move to nine victories for the term.

Street Scream has been a force to be reckoned with in 2022-23, with the six-year-old ringing up a hat-trick of wins in the Class Three Zhuhai Handicap (1,200m).