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Frankie Lor’s Hong Kong Derby defence starts to take shape at Happy Valley

He cut a swathe through last season’s four-year-old series and Frankie Lor Fu-chuen ramps up his Hong Kong Derby defence at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, with 2018 Group One Victoria Derby (2,500m) winner Extra Brut stepping out in Hong Kong for the first time.

Lor delivered a clean sweep of the 2019 series – the Classic Mile and Derby with Furore, the Classic Cup with Mission Tycoon – and will know more about his current arsenal after Wednesday night’s Class Two Maurice Handicap (1,650m).

“I think he’ll need the run, he’s a big horse and he’s still a colt. There’s not much [at Sha Tin] for him this month and he’s trialled at Happy Valley already, so that’s no problem,” Lor said.

“We need to run him to see how he’s going, but he’s working well in the morning and his barrier trials are good. After the race we can decide more.”

The Derby is the grand final for Extra Brut, who placed at Group One level over 2,000m in Australia, but the son of Domesday also won at 1,300m, 1,600m and 1,800m, suggesting he could be competitive from the outset when the four-year-old series kicks off with the Classic Mile in January.

Lor is unsure whether Extra Brut will be ready for that race but expects to have a better guide after seeing the galloper go around under Zac Purton.

“I don’t want him to drop back because it is only a short straight at Happy Valley, not like Sha Tin. If he can find some cover I will be happy.”

Extra Brut is one of a host of private purchase Derby hopefuls Lor has at his disposal. Decrypt finished third in the Group One Irish 2,000 Guineas (1,600m), Super Oasis placed in the Group One Australian Derby (2,400m) when named Surely Sacred and Thinkin’ Big ran behind Extra Brut as favourite in the Victoria Derby and won twice at Group Three level in Australia but is on the comeback trail from a suspensory injury.

Wednesday night’s Class Two also sees another horse with four-year-old series potential make his Hong Kong debut in Paul O’Sullivan’s Amazing Beats, a Tasmania Derby (2,200m) winner who also ran in the Australian Derby.

The gelding ran on nicely into second behind Dark Dream in a Valley trial last month and O’Sullivan expects him to show something first-up.

“He’s nowhere near forward enough to be winning but if he can just run a nice race I’ll be happy,” he said.

“He’s got a bit of work under his belt and he trialled quite nicely the other day – he seems a pretty adaptable, sensible type of horse.

“He’ll get back a bit from gate eight and we’ll just see if he can find the line and that would be a very satisfactory run.”

A former Godolphin galloper, Amazing Beats also won at 1,300m and 1,550m in Australia when named Cossetot.

“He could be ready for the Classic Mile but he’s going to have to adapt to Hong Kong pretty quickly. We’ll just see how he runs, he hasn’t been put under much pressure yet,” he said.

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