Morethanlucky was a prominent player in the Frankie Lor success story last season and the trainer is looking to Saturday’s Class 2 Washington D.C. Handicap (1400m) for a signal that the five-year-old can play a leading part this term, too.
Lor accrued 65 wins in his first campaign ˗ a record for a freshman handler in Hong Kong ˗ and Morethanlucky provided four of those. But the bay gelding’s contribution was not only numerical; in progressing to a third-place finish in the prestigious Hong Kong Classic Mile, the New Zealand-bred advanced Lor’s profile as a trainer capable of readying horses in the classier grades.
Morethanlucky will step out for his first run this season off the back of a smart barrier trial on 11 September. Under race-day pilot Karis Teetan, the son of Per Incanto made all through 1200m on the all-weather track and passed the post under a hold, clear of his peers.
“I’m happy with the way he won the trial last week and I think he has a good chance this Saturday,” said Lor, who is hopeful that his charge’s best is yet to come.
“He is rated 92 but he looks like he can still improve a little bit. Saturday’s race will tell us about whether he can make the step up to the better races.”
After running what seemed to be a non-staying eighth in February’s Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m), the second leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series, Morethanlucky was side-lined until returning for two late season defeats.
“He had a little foot problem last season but now everything is back to normal, he’s healthy and I expect him to run well this weekend,” Lor added.
The bay will break from gate six in the field of 14, which also features top-weight Joyful Trinity (133lb) ˗ champion jockey Zac Purton will be aboard the G1-plcaced galloper for the first time since January, 2017.
Morethanlucky, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Trainer John Moore will saddle People’s Knight (122lb) and Magic Legend (120lb). Umberto Rispoli is booked for the former, while Sam Clipperton is slated to ride the latter.
People’s Knight closed to finish three and three-quarter lengths behind Morethanlucky in the aforementioned barrier trial.
“People’s Knight trialled really nicely on the dirt the other day,” Moore said. “He excelled on the turf as a young horse but in more recent season’s he’s looked really good on the dirt, so that has to be taken into consideration.”
The latest of the bay’s four course and distance wins, though, was achieved last March, a short-head verdict off a 5lb lower mark than his current rating of 89.
“He did win at the course and distance last season, so that’s a plus ˗ that was a great ride from (Joao) Moreira, he went down the inside and got up by a bob of heads. He’s forward in fitness but he’s first-up and he’s six years old now, so you have to factor that in, too,” Moore said.
Hong Kong’s all-time leading money earner is hoping to see a better performance from Magic Legend than a first-up 10th of 11 over 1200m at Happy Valley a couple of weeks ago.
“The pace of that first-up race didn’t really suit Magic Legend. He had to work hard to get outside the leader and then he faded out,” Moore said of the five-year-old, who opened his Hong Kong career with four straight wins in early 2017.
“You have to look at the fact that he’s not as young as he was when he put together those four straight wins, so his form is not as good as it was back then,” the trainer added.
Two interesting Hong Kong first-timers are set to debut, both boasting G2 placings in Australia last term: Champion trainer John Size will send out Autumn Stakes (1400m) runner-up Mr So And So (114lb), while Benno Yung will saddle Queensland Guineas (1600m) second Volpino (118lb).
The Class 2 contest also features the Ricky Yiu-trained Citron Spirit (130lb), a good third at the course and distance on the season’s opening day; the David Hall-trained pair of Super Turbo (130lb) and Fast Most Furious (122lb); Circuit Hassler (116lb) and California Joy (118lb) from the powerful Tony Cruz stable; the admirable Pikachu (122lb), Almababy (119lb) and Regency Bo Bo (119lb) complete the field.
The Washington D.C. Handicap is the last of the afternoon’s 10 races and is due off at 5.45pm. The day’s sport will commence at 1pm with the Class 4 Boston Handicap (1200m).