The outcome of tomorrow’s (1 October) Group 3 Celebration Cup Handicap (1400m) at Sha Tin looks set to determine Furore’s big December target.
“We’ll look at the (LONGINES) Hong Kong International Races and I’m still thinking about whether he goes 1600 metres or 2000 metres there. After Tuesday’s race I think I will have a decision to make,” trainer Frankie Lor said.
Last season’s star four-year-old proved adept at both distances during the three-leg Classic Series, with wins in the Hong Kong Classic Mile (1600m) and the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m). The LONGINES Hong Kong International Races offers the Australian import the option of the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) or the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m).
The Celebration Cup pitches the Pierro five-year-old against Hong Kong’s standout galloper, Beauty Generation, and that rival is expected to be a tough nut for any challenger to crack at set weights in the Hong Kong Mile.
The John Moore-trained superstar will carry top-weight of 133lb in this week’s feature, meaning Furore (113lb) is one of eight contenders in the 10-strong field who will receive a concession of 20lb.
“It’s a handicap race and he has a light weight against Beauty Generation, so this will give us an idea of how good my horse is. We’ll try to beat him, of course, but it depends on how improved Furore is,” Lor said.
“I believe he’s a better horse than last season but we need to race him to see if that’s the case.”
Furore followed his Derby win with a disappointing 10th in the Group 1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m) at the end of April and has not raced since.
A recent barrier trial under race day pilot Grant van Niekerk held plenty of promise though. Furore dashed home eye-catchingly at the end of a 1200m dirt track heat to finish third behind Pakistan Star and Tuesday’s rival Waikuku.
“He looks ok and his trial last was good, he trialled nicely and the jockey was happy with that,” Lor said. “It’s his first start of the season so he’s not yet at his top form but he looked good enough in the trial and, with that and his light weight, he should run well.”
Third-season trainer Lor notched his first Group 1 wins at last year’s LONGINES Hong Kong International Races thanks to Mr Stunning (Hong Kong Sprint) and Glorious Forever (Hong Kong Cup).
Tuesday’s 10-race card also features the Group 3 National Day Cup Handicap (1000m).