Bidding to bolster already formidable Four-Year-Old Classic Series achievements, Frankie Lor will attempt to strengthen his 2022/23 arsenal when stablemates A Pal and Can’t Go Wong clash in the Class 2 Yuen Long Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin on Sunday.
Lor’s band of contenders for the lucrative HK$48 million series, which kicks off with the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) on January 29, is headed by 100-rater Keefy but the reigning Hong Kong champion trainer is also hoping A Pal (78) and Can’t Go Wong (76) can secure handicap rises with strong performances this weekend.
Leading this season’s trainers’ championship 29-25 from Tony Cruz, Lor believes A Pal can improve on his game second to Chris So’s impressive Super Sunny Sing over 1400m at Sha Tin on January 1.
“Last time, he went good and also the time before when he ran fourth. I will try to get more ratings points for him. At this stage, I will leave the cheek pieces on him because it’s still 1400 metres,” Lor said.
“I think 1600 metres will be okay for but when it’s 1800 metres and 2000 metres, I will probably take the cheek pieces off or he might be too keen.”
Into only his sixth season as a trainer, Lor has swiftly compiled an envious Four-Year-Old Classic Series record, notably through 2019 Hong Kong Classic Mile and BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) winner Furore – who raced in the same interest as A Pal – and 2019 Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m) victor Mission Tycoon and 2021 Hong Kong Classic Cup winner Healthy Happy.
A Pal will jump from barrier 11 under Derek Leung, while Can’t Go Wong starts from gate three for Matthew Poon.
The Lor pair is among four four-year-olds taking on older rivals in Sunday’s finale. The others are Caspar Fownes-trained Galaxy Witness, who will be partnered by Hugh Bowman from barrier 13, while John Size’s Tuchel returns to competition from gate 14 under Zac Purton.
A disappointing ninth on his Hong Kong debut behind Super Sunny Sing, Straight Arron (77) has been given the chance to enhance Four-Year-Old Classic Series hopes in the Class 3 Ping Shan Handicap (1600m) by David Hayes.
Hayes is confident the G3-winning Australian import is capable of much better than he displayed during a fraught performance on January 1, when he over-raced and failed to finish off as expected.
“I think we’ll see a different horse at a mile and with the benefit of a run under his belt – he’s been off for a long time – I’m expecting a much better run,” Hayes said.
“If he wins well, of course we can go for the Hong Kong Classic Mile but I’m more confident about the Hong Kong Classic Cup and the BMW Hong Kong Derby because I think he will be at his absolute best at 1800 metres and 2000 metres. He could easily put his hand up for the mile.”
Hayes is confident Straight Arron has similar qualities to stablemates Flagship Warrior (84) and Bon’s A Pearla (80), who are also aiming at the Four-Year-Old Classic Series which culminates in the HK$24 million BMW Hong Kong Derby on 19 March after the HK$12 million Hong Kong Classic Cup on February 26.
Hayes said Straight Arron headed the stable’s four-year-old pecking order before his debut.
“Before he ran, I had him on top and I would like to forgive him for that run and so I will reserve my assessment until after the weekend. It wouldn’t surprise me if he produced a much-improved performance,” the dual Hong Kong champion trainer said.
Sunday’s (January 16) Sha Tin meeting starts with the Class 5 Hung Shui Kiu Handicap (1200m) at 1pm.