icon

Lor hits milestone; Money Catcher heads to Happy Valley

Tue 5th Apr 2022, 09:50

Frankie Lor is chasing a first Hong Kong trainers’ championship
Hong Kong Jockey Club

By Declan Schuster
Frankie Lor is the hottest trainer in Hong Kong right now with eight wins from the past four race meetings and his prospects of landing a maiden title hit all new highs on Sunday (3 April) as he drew level with John Size at the top of the championship table (61-61) after erasing his former mentor’s eight-win lead ahead of the season’s 60th fixture at Happy Valley (Wednesday, 6 April).

Savouring his 300th win in Hong Kong at Sha Tin on the weekend too, Lor reached the triple century of career-wins in just his fifth season of training after hauling 65, 65, 44 and 65 wins across his first four seasons at the helm, crowned with big-race victories thanks to Mr Stunning, Glorious Forever and Furore.

“The stable and the whole team are doing really well, also in Conghua, even though the border is closed, the team is working really hard for me — the riding boys, mafoos (grooms) and everyone, so I am really happy,” Lor said.

Growing up in Happy Valley — Hong Kong racing’s spiritual home, Lor was destined to enjoy a lifelong career in the sport. He accrued 27 wins as a rider between 1981 and 1995 before turning his attention to training, most notably working as an assistant under the tutelage of two of Hong Kong’s all-time greats, John Moore and John Size.

Since being granted a full licence to train ahead of the 2017/18 racing season, the 56-year-old’s career has been one of remarkable consistency with immediate success including a winner at his first runner before scooping a double at the 2018 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races with Mr Stunning and Glorious Forever in only his second season of training.

And while Master Eight narrowly missed the mark in the G2 Sprint Cup (1200m) behind Wellington, the handler may have unearthed another super short-course talent on Sunday afternoon with Sakewin successfully overcoming gate 14 to prevail with ease on debut.

“When he arrived in Hong Kong, he had a few trials and he looked really good, so that’s why I was quite confident that he could run well, but as always, you have to see it and that’s a good first start,” Lor said.

Looking to extend his sparkling run, Lor holds a menacing hand in Wednesday’s Class 2 Chater Handicap (1800m) at Happy Valley with Money Catcher (127lb) and Looking Great (118lb).

Money Catcher steps out after finishing third in both the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) and BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m).

“I’ve decided send him to Happy Valley — he has had one trial there previously, so I think he is ok to race at the track,” Lor said. “I want to see; this race should be suitable for him.”

Money Catcher has raced four times in Hong Kong, displaying steady progress in each outing after arriving from New Zealand where he finished runner-up in the 2021 G2 Auckland Guineas (1600m) and 2021 G2 Avondale Guineas (2100m).

Looking Great also features in the same race for the handler, bidding for a fourth Hong Kong win with Jerry Chau in the plate, while Derek Leung gets the leg-up on Money Catcher.

“Normally, 1800 to 2000 metres should be better and also, there’s not many options around for him (Looking Great), so I decided to send them both to the same race,” Lor said.

Lor saddles a team of seven at the midweek fixture under lights.

G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup an option for Enjoying

Chris So believes Enjoying has the stamina to challenge next month’s G3 Queen Mother Memorial Cup Handicap (2400m) should he maintain an upward trajectory after first taking aim at Wednesday’s (6 April) Class 2 Chater Handicap (1800m) at Happy Valley.

“We’ll see, the straight is a little bit shorter at Happy Valley than Sha Tin, honestly, I think he can go a bit further than 2000 metres, so let’s see if he runs well, we can try to go for the Group 3 next month,” So said.

The Dundeel gelding — sporting the familiar silks of Mr and Mrs Wong — led from the get-go to land a first win for connections after enduring an exasperating string of setbacks, including a heart irregularity.

“I think he can go further, that’s why we’ll first see how he performs and then I’ll discuss it with the owner. His form in Australia seems as though he should be able to handle further, he’s quite one-paced too, so that’s why I think he should suit going over further,” So said.

A six-year-old now, Enjoying arrived in Hong Kong as a two-time Group 2 winner pre-import, prevailing in the 2019 G2 Caulfield Autumn Classic (1800m) and 2019 G2 Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) in Australia.

“He has a bit of a history with setbacks, but I’ve spent a long time with the horse since I got him, building up his confidence and his form. His performance was pretty good last start and I think he is still in good form,” So said.

Matthew Chadwick takes the reins on Wednesday night from gate three against six rivals.

“I discussed it with the owner, we want to try him at Happy Valley — his form is good,” So said. “I really hope he stays healthy, this is very important with these kind of horses.”

Wednesday’s (6 April) nine-race fixture at Happy Valley kicks off at 6.45pm with the Class 3 Connaught Handicap (1000m).