A victory in same race last year catapulted the six-year-old into no-man’s-land and his trainer might again have to resort to turf options to get rating down
A win in the corresponding race 12 months ago catapulted Kings Shield into no-man’s-land and Frankie Lor Fu-chuen is again bracing for a dearth of options after his galloper took out the Class Two Hebe Hill Handicap (1,650m) at Wednesday night’s all-dirt meeting at Sha Tin.
Kings Shield jumped to a rating of 109 after winning a year ago and will find himself in similar territory after saluting off a mark of 100, however Lor hopes the handicapper is kind to his dirt-mile specialist.
“We don’t know how many points he will get – maybe five or six,” Lor said. “If he moves to 106 maybe we need to race him two times on the turf, or I think in December they have 105-80 again over 1,650m but it depends how many points them give him.”
There is the option of chasing Group options on dirt in Dubai in the new year but Lor is realistic about that eventuating.
“Dubai is in March so there is still plenty of time and we don’t know if they will be open or not,” he said.
In his first run since May, $10.80 chance Kings Shield jumped smartly from barrier three and Derek Leung Ka-chun had no trouble assuming the lead on the rail with Zac Purton aboard $2.20 favourite Hongkong Great on his outside.
Kings Shield was never headed and with Hongkong Great eased out of the race and runner-up The Rock the only galloper taking any ground off him in the straight, the six-year-old coasted to a two-and-a-half length victory.
“I think the jockey did a good thing, we got draw three and Purton was in draw four so I told the jockey that we needed to jump first and hold the rail to see if Purton’s horse wanted to come across him and maybe then he would use a little bit. That is maybe the point we won the race,” Lor said.
“I didn’t think the horse was 100 per cent so I trialled him two weeks ago and he was still maybe around 80 per cent fit, so I thought he had some chance but he won the race.”
Leung has ridden Kings Shield in 15 of his 26 starts and has been in the saddle for two of his four victories, all of which have come over 1,650m on the all-weather track.
“It was important for him to get into his rhythm, it was an advantage for us to have a soft lead and he was always going to have a good chance,” said Leung, who later completed a double aboard Me Tsui Yu-sak’s Gunnison.
“Last season he had a serious bump in a race at the 400m and he lost his confidence and he lost his heart. It’s been a long way to bring him back.”
Hongkong Great tailed out to finish a long last after suffering breathing difficulties as a result of an epiglottic entrapment, while Telecom Fighters was five and a half lengths off Kings Shield in third in his first assignment on the all-weather track.
Kings Shield completed a running double for Lor after he snared the opener with The Elites, with the haul moving him to 13 winners for the season and into equal second in the trainers’ premiership with Jimmy Ting Koon-ho, who saluted with Lucky Victor in the third event.
In that Lucky Victor race, Anonyma dipped at the start and threw Alex Lai Hoi-wing to the ground, with the 37-year-old conscious after the fall but taken to hospital for further examination.
Ruan Maia was the other jockey with multiple winners, doubling his tally for the season with victories aboard Manfred Man Ka-leung’s Magic Supreme and Chancheng Prince for Francis Lui Kin-wai.
“I’m very, very happy,” Maia said. “This is my first double in Hong Kong and I am extremely grateful to Francis Lui, Manfred Man, David Hayes and the other trainers who have given me opportunities.”
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