Frankie Lor is the shooting star of Hong Kong’s training ranks and on Sunday (17 March) the handler will saddle three leading contenders for the third, final and most coveted leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series, the HK$18 million BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m).
Lor has bagged legs one and two: Furore stalked and sprinted to take the Hong Kong Classic Mile back in January; Mission Tycoon led and kicked to a shock win in last month’s Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m); each time their high-profile stablemate Dark Dream stayed on with pressing intent.
Many of Hong Kong’s eager racing fans are hoping he can become the first “home grown” trainer to win the Derby since Tony Cruz 11 years ago, and the first ethnically Chinese Hong Konger to take the great race since Brian Kan in 2001.
“Last season I had no Derby runner and this season I have three,” Lor says. I know those three horses have a good chance so now I need some luck!”
Lor’s career already features Group 1 wins in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint and LONGINES Hong Kong Cup but luck, that slippery catch-all reasoning so often forwarded in Hong Kong racing circles, has had no more than a bit-part role. The circuit’s great local hope is anything but a fast-track sensation.
Hard work and observant patience have underpinned Lor’s way. A former jockey of the journeyman variety, he navigated the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s system for 36 years and was 51 before the Club granted him a licence to train. His first two applications failed.
“I’ve worked for the Club for a long, long time. I’m 53 now!” he says with a warm laugh and familiar grin. “I joined the Club in 1981 as an apprentice jockey and I rode in races until 1995. I didn’t have too much support so I changed to become a trainer’s assistant.”
A life in racing