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Million Challenge winner Fa Fa heads back to his Happy hunting ground after Derby push

Fa Fa returns to his favourite track on Wednesday night as he attempts to shrug off some disappointing performances at Sha Tin.

Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s galloper ran in all three legs of the four-year-old series, with his best performance coming when eighth in the Hong Kong Derby in his last start, but he had previously taken Happy Valley by storm.

With four straight wins to start the season under the lights supplementing a victory on his final start last term, Fa Fa racked up a five-run winning streak at the Valley and picked up an extra HK$450,000 for his owner when sharing first prize with Cheerful Days in the DBS x Manulife Million Challenge.

Lor has given Fa Fa a break since those big Sha Tin races and feels he might not quite be at his peak as he makes his comeback in the Class Two Castle Peak Bay Handicap (1,650m).

“He’s had two months off after the Derby,” Lor said. “I’ve given him a trial at Conghua and he looks OK, but maybe he’s not still in top form to finish the season.”

Lor remains level with John Size at the top of the trainers’ championship with 74 winners after both managed a sole strike at Sha Tin on Sunday and he heads into Happy Valley with a host of chances as he aims to win his first trainers’ crown.

Adios is a newcomer of note in the Class Three Deep Bay Handicap (1,000m). The Australian import was a maiden winner over 1,100m at Gosford and has showed plenty of ability since arriving in the city, notably when making all the running after a fast start to win his final barrier trial over 1,200m on dirt at Sha Tin.

Lor is pleased with the way he’s been working and expects him to be up with the pace on his Hong Kong debut.

“He’s a sprinter and he’s very fast,” Lor said. “That’s why I’ve taken him to Happy Valley – he will just jump and go.”

My Ecstatic has been one of Lor’s most consistent runners this season. Despite winning just the one race, he has finished out of the first five just once in his 10 starts this season.

Victorious in his penultimate start on his first attempt at 1,400m this season, he was only fifth in his first career effort over 1,600m latest and Lor keeps him at that distance in the Class Three Kat O Hoi Handicap (1,650m).

“He’s always close and has won over 1,400m,” Lor said. “We tried 1,600m but the jockey was not smart. He went first but it would have been better if he was just behind some horses.

“He still finished close and he goes back to Happy Valley. I think he’ll have a chance.”

Lor is well represented at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, with Everyone’s Delight, Triple Triple, Excellent Peers, Jade Phoenix, Go For Tea and Ares rounding off his chances on the card.

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