Horse Racing
Freshman trainer Lor extends early lead with Happy Valley double

By Andrew Hawkins
26/10/2017 00:01

Freshman handler Frankie Lor continued the dream start to his training career, saddling up a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (25 October) to extend his lead at the top of the trainers’ championship.

Lor has trained 14 winners after 16 meetings at a strike rate of 22.58 per cent, with the victories of Dr Win Win in the Class 3 Dordenma Handicap (1650m) and Spicy Double in the Class 5 Powerful Handicap (1650m) extending his lead to three over 2012/13 champion trainer Dennis Yip.

Dr Win Win, formerly named Qatar Dream, arrived with juvenile form from France, including a second to G1-winning blueblood Zarak on debut.

However, like many gallopers, the Makfi four-year-old has taken time to acclimatise upon his arrival, finishing near the rear in five runs for Caspar Fownes before changing to Lor’s stable.

“He was still finding his feet last season,” Lor said. “When he was with Caspar, he was still a colt but the horse was quite playful, so I suggested to the owners that we geld him. That has made a notable difference.”

Vincent Ho drives Dr Win Win to the line to win the Class 3 Dordenma Handicap for trainer Frankie Lor.
Vincent Ho drives Dr Win Win to the line to win the Class 3 Dordenma Handicap for trainer Frankie Lor.

Dr Win Win had put the writing on the wall with a seventh over 1200m before charging home for second with the step up to 1650m. In a muddling race on Wednesday night, the bay was able to stay on under Vincent Ho to just defeat enigmatic gelding Lucky Girl by a head.

“I applied the blinkers for his first run and he was OK starting at the 1200m,” Lor said. “When I stepped him up in trip, I went to the cheek pieces and they helped him to stay better, so it proved tonight. He is not a big horse so I need to take care with him and manage his training closely – I can’t work him too hard. Hopefully he can win again in this grade.”

A horse that had waited a long time for his first victory was Spicy Double. The Rip Van Winkle five-year-old had gone 21 starts without a win and found himself on a rating of 20 before his three-quarter length success under Derek Leung.

“It was a difficult task to win with this horse,” Lor said. “I started him at 1200m and he was too one-paced. Then I stepped him up to 1650m, but he was a bit keen because of the pace. This time, he had a relatively faster pace and he was just able to win. It was a satisfying result.”

Speedy King achieves rare feat with debut victory

One of the night’s more impressive performances came from Ricky Yiu’s debutant Speedy King, who won the Class 4 Our Pegasus Handicap (1000m) under jockey Neil Callan.

Before Speedy King, the last 52-rated galloper to win on debut over the Happy Valley 1000m was Mr Stunning in February 2016. Mr Stunning is now Hong Kong’s highest-rated horse after winning last Sunday’s G2 Premier Bowl Handicap (1200m).

“I don’t want to suggest he’ll go anywhere near those heights but he’s a professional,” Callan said. “His trials had suggested that he had a little bit of ability. He jumped a little slow, but I’d learnt from his trials that even when he wasn’t the best to begin, he mustered with plenty of natural speed. Tonight, he travelled up quite nicely behind the good speed and while it took him a while to get to the lead, I always thought he would get there.”

Ricky Yiu’s first-starter Speedy King races to the lead in the shadows of the post to win the Class 4 Our Pegasus Handicap under Neil Callan.
Ricky Yiu’s first-starter Speedy King races to the lead in the shadows of the post to win the Class 4 Our Pegasus Handicap under Neil Callan.

Two of Hong Kong’s former champion riders also earned plaudits. Douglas Whyte was at his front-running best aboard Cloud Nine in the Class 4 Very Well Handicap (1800m).

“That was vintage Whyte – that was the rider who won 13 championships,” Cloud Nine’s trainer Tony Millard said. “This horse is a Class 4 horse who just stays all day, but Dougie couldn’t have rated him much better – there were a couple of horses trying to apply pressure but he just gave them a lesson.”

Meanwhile, Zac Purton bookended the meeting, taking the Class 3 Billion Handicap (2200m) on Danny Shum-trained Happilababy before Yip’s Starlight made it four wins from his last five starts in the Class 3 Perfect Gear Handicap (1200m).

“Starlight’s racing well and it was a good win, but I felt he struggled to shoulder the weight tonight,” Purton said of the heavily-backed 1.8 favourite. “So it’s ideal that he won with enough in hand that he should go up in grade now, and it wouldn’t surprise to see him win at the bottom of Class 2 in his current form.”

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Purton now sits on 21 wins for the season, three adrift of championship leader Joao Moreira.

Nash Rawiller took the night’s feature, the Class 4 Longines Cup Handicap (1200m), aboard Me Tsui-trained Look Eras, while David Hall declared Matthew Poon’s ride on Happy And Healthy “his ride of the season to date” after the Fastnet Rock seven-year-old won the Class 4 Flying Elite Handicap (1650m).

Racing returns to Happy Valley on Sunday (29 October) for a rare day meeting at the city track, with the first scheduled for 1pm.