Lor extends lead with Happy Valley double
First-season trainer is three winners ahead of 2012/2013 champion Dennis Yip
Freshman handler Frankie Lor continued the dream start to his training career, saddling up a double at Happy Valley on Wednesday night 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 over 1,650m and Spicy Double in the Class 5 Powerful Handicap over 1,650m, 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 Group 1-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 trainer Caspar Fownes before changing to Lor's stable.
"He was still finding his feet last season," said Lor.
"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."
Dr Win Win had put the writing on the wall with a seventh over 1,200m before charging home for second with the step-up to 1,650m.
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 okay starting at the 1,200m," said Lor.
"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," said Lor.
"I started him at 1,200m and he was too one-paced. Then I stepped him up to 1,650m, 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."
One of the night's more impressive performances came from trainer Ricky Yiu's debutant Speedy King, who won the Class 4 Our Pegasus Handicap over 1,000m under jockey Neil Callan.
Before Speedy King, the last 52-rated galloper to win on debut over the Happy Valley 1,000m was Mr Stunning in February 2016.
Mr Stunning is now Hong Kong's highest-rated horse after winning last Sunday's Group 2 Premier Bowl Handicap over 1,200m.
"I don't want to suggest he'll go anywhere near those heights but he's a professional," said Callan.
"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." - HKJC