Master Eight stamped himself as one of the most exciting young horses in Hong Kong last season and Frankie Lor Fu-chuen hopes he can furnish into a top-line sprinter this campaign.
After winning two-from-two in 2020-21, the talented four-year-old makes his seasonal return in the second section of Sunday’s Class Three Spoonbill Handicap (1,200m) and while the gun trainer expects him to be in the finish, he acknowledges his rising star will take plenty of improvement from his first-up effort.
There was a slight interruption to Master Eight’s preparation early on and while he has recovered from that, he will also need to relax a little bit more during his races if he’s going to maximise his potential.
“He had a temperature in about the middle of August, so I had to give him a week off, but everything has been fine since,” Lor said.
“He’s been good in both his trials so it’s time to take him racing. It’s hard to say how much he’s improved over the off-season, he’s still a little bit fresh. After the last trial Joao [Moreira] said he really wanted to go, hopefully after this race he’ll be able to settle a bit better.”
Frankie Lor and Joao Moreira.
The son of Oamaru Force easily accounted for his rivals in his most recent trial – which included two-time Group One winner Waikuku – and Lor expects the Magic Man to ping Master Eight straight to the front from barrier five on Sunday.
“I think he’ll lead. I just don’t want him to pull too hard, I don’t think it’s good for young horses,” he said. “I want him to jump and then be smooth.”
Lor knows he has a smart type on his hands but he wants to see him perform on the track before making any bold predictions.
“Class Two should be no problem and hopefully he’ll go to an even higher level but we need to see him race first and see if he’s taken the next step,” he said.
It shapes as an exciting afternoon for the stable with another promising galloper in Five Elements set to compete in the first section of the Spoonbill Handicap, looking to go one better after his narrow second to Packing Victory at his Hong Kong debut.
The challenge for the precocious three-year-old is the fact he’s got a couple of smart opponents to deal with in Jimmy Ting Koon-ho’s Gluck Racer and Lucky With You, from the David Hayes yard.
“It’s going to be a tough race but those horses have the outside draws,” Lor said, referring to the fact that Gluck Racer and Lucky With You will jump from gates 11 and 12, respectively, while Five Elements has barrier three.
“It doesn’t matter where he settles – he can lead or be second or third. When he raced in New Zealand he was able to lead or take a sit.
Five Elements (middle) finishes second to Packing Victory last month.
“He has taken improvement from his last run. Joao rode him on Monday and he was happy with him. He should be much better this time.
“He should have a good future this horse. He does everything well but he’s only young and he’s still got a lot to learn.”
The Lor stable has quietly built into the season with winners at eight of the past nine meetings to move into fourth place on the championship table.
Alongside the two talented types mentioned above, the 55-year-old also believes Dragon Fortune and Xiang Yin are strong chances among the team of eight he is taking to Sha Tin on Sunday.