Francis Lui Kin-wai continued his strong start to the season at Sha Tin on Sunday, bagging a treble to take the outright lead in the trainers’ premiership.
Level with Caspar Fownes heading into the meeting, Lui moved to eight wins through the first five meetings of the 2023-24 campaign and sits three victories clear on top.
“I’m not surprised because they were [among the] favourites, and they all did well in their morning trackwork,” Lui said after saluting with Always Fluke ($4.6), Yellowfin ($2.4) and Packing Treadmill ($4.7)
“It’s still early, but of course, if I can I like to try [to be up there in the premiership].”
Runner-up to John Size in last season’s title race, Lui has had at least one win at each of the first five meetings of the term and is striking at 30 per cent.
Packing Treadmill finally put it all together again to take out the Class Two HKU Foundation Handicap (1,200m), saluting for the first time since December.
After six wins from eight starts to begin his career, Packing Treadmill finished third as the favourite in January’s Hong Kong Classic Mile and has taken time to regain top form.
“He’s an honest horse. Last season, after the Classic Mile, his form dropped a little bit, so we gave him some time,” Lui said of the five-year-old, who was a close third on his final start last term.
Yellowfin finds enough! @LyleHewitson collects a second win this term, taking the Hong Kong University Alumni Association Challenge Cup to give trainer Francis Lui a double... 🏆 #HKracing pic.twitter.com/oygj7BCZtv— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) September 24, 2023
Positioned outside leader Master Eight by jockey Lyle Hewitson in a race run more than one second slower than standard through the first 800m, Packing Treadmill dug deep in the home straight to hold off the swooping Flying Ace by a head.
Yellowfin’s victory in the Class Three Hong Kong University Alumni Association Challenge Cup (1,400m) was his second on the bounce after a June success over the same course and distance, with Lui pleased his patience is finally being rewarded.
That June win was Yellowfin’s first at start 13 and came after nine placings and two withdrawals with lameness – once the day before the races and once behind the barriers.
“He’s improved since last season when he won that race. Early this season in barrier trials he showed he was still in good form,” Lui said.
The wins of Yellowfin and Packing Treadmill ensured Hewitson went home with his first double of the season, while the victory of Always Fluke completed a brace for Vincent Ho Chak-yiu.
After opening the card with success aboard Danny Shum Chap-shing’s Super Legends, Ho piloted Always Fluke to victory in the Class Four University Hall Handicap (1,200m).
Winless from four starts in his first campaign, Always Fluke pounced late to grab Commanding Missile on the line in a performance that left Lui hopeful he is capable of producing more wins.