FRANKIE Lor can extend his lead in the Trainers’ Championship race when Sha Tin hosts a nine-race programme – eight on the all-weather and one on turf – in Hong Kong today.
A treble at Sha Tin on Sunday saw Lor put daylight between himself and 11-time Champion Trainer John Size, and he has bright prospects of pushing further ahead by the end of the day.
The popular 56-year-old handler has 68 victories to his name this season, already surpassing his best-ever total of 65 winners back in 2017, and will surely fancy his chances of improving on that tally.
With half-a-dozen contenders, including well-handicapped Mission Smart who races in the Lam Tei Handicap (1.15pm) over seven furlongs, and the in-form Like That in the Tuen Mun Handicap (3.15pm) over six furlongs, Lor’s prospects are looking good.
His best hope, however, is TRUE LEGEND who can score an overdue victory in the Tin Shui Wai Handicap (2.45pm) over the extended mile.
The five-year-old son of Deep Field already has a good record on the dirt surface, having won once and placed three times from just a handful of races.
You can ignore his latest performance when never sighted over a mile at Happy Valley in March, and it’s his previous effort on dirt, when runner-up to rival Apache Pass, which bears close scrutiny.
On that occasion, after dictating the pace from the off, he was gunned down in the closing stages by Apache Pass, but now finds himself eight pounds better off with that rival for a one-and-a-half-length beating.
It’s also worth pointing out that third-placed Ultra Express was over four lengths adrift, while a telescope was needed to spot the rest of the field.
His recent track-work has been exemplary too, including two-trial wins, which further enhances his prospects.
Providing he doesn’t get into a battle for the early lead, he will be hard to pass down the home straight.
Another front-runner, HAPPY TANGO, has been given a winning chance when he contests the Nam Sang Wai Handicap (1.45pm) over six furlongs.
This tough and game all-weather specialist produced a career best when outbattling Jazz Angel in a fast time over the course and distance in March.
A five-pound penalty is fair, considering he got into a battle for the lead early on but still had enough in hand to repel Jazz Angel, who has boosted the form by winning since.
An inside draw is a positive for his trademark front-running role, and the booking of Lyle Hewitson is another source of encouragement, with the former South African Champion Jockey in red hot form, after riding seven winners from his last 14 rides.
Expect the Zac Purton-ridden smart newcomer, Yellowfin, to be at the forefront of the market – the Australian has ridden him in all five trials – but maybe a lack of experience will find him out in the closing stages.
Happy Tango 1.45pm Sha Tin
True Legend 2.45pm Sha Tin