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Frankie Lor double-handed in Friday feature

June 30, 2022, 6:51:32 AM

Bidding to tighten his grip on the trainers’ championship, Frankie Lor is hopeful Master Eight can cope with a hefty weight and quality opposition to lay the foundations for an ambitious 2022/23 campaign with victory in the Class 1 25th Anniversary Hong Kong Reunification Cup Handicap (1200m) at Sha Tin on Friday (1 July).

Bidding to tighten his grip on the trainers’ championship, Frankie Lor is hopeful Master Eight can cope with a hefty weight and quality opposition to lay the foundations for an ambitious 2022/23 campaign with victory in the Class 1 25th Anniversary Hong Kong Reunification Cup Handicap (1200m) at Sha Tin on Friday (1 July).

Leading John Size 87-80 with five meetings left in the season, Lor is optimistic Master Eight – winner of his first five starts – can return to the winners’ list after three successive defeats and prove worthy of more Group race tilts next season.

“I think he can still improve, this horse,” Lor said referencing the gelding’s last-start third to Wellington in the G2 Sprint Cup (1200m) on 3 April at Sha Tin. “For me, next season should be much better for the horse. I’ll try to put him in some big sprint races and we will have a look after Friday.”

To start from barrier six under 135lb for Joao Moreira, Master Eight will square off 10 rivals, including Lucky Express (135lb), Nervous Witness (130lb), Duke Wai (129lb) and the emerging Campione (125lb).

Lor will also be represented by last-start winner Winning Dreamer (124lb), who again teams with Vincent Ho, who has ridden the gelding in all seven of his wins so far.

“He (Winning Dreamer) needed some time for his confidence to come back, so last time he won well,” Lor said. “He was an easy horse to train until he got some problems. We needed to help him relax in the mornings and get his confidence back.

“Vincent understands him well and rides this horse perfectly. Both horses have a good chance on Friday, but Master Eight needs to carry a big weight and this could be a little bit of a problem for the young horse.”

David Hayes will attempt to supplant Lor’s plans with Nervous Witness, who was narrowly beaten last start by Cordyceps Six in the G3 Sha Tin Vase Handicap (1200m) on 22 May.

“He’s held his form, his trial was good, but he seems to really like the pressure of 1200m races,” Hayes said.

“He’s weakness is when the tempo is not fast, he can tend to over-race – that won’t be an issue this weekend (because) there’s a lot of speed in the race and if he can jump well and cruise across from the gate (barrier nine) without too much pressure, he’ll be there in the end.”

Hayes is unperturbed by Nervous Witness rising from 114lb last start to Friday’s 130lb impost for Zac Purton.

“I think the opposition are probably 16lb worse, so it’s all relative,” the dual Hong Kong champion trainer said. “If he’s good enough to win on Friday, his rating will give us no choice – we’ll be targeting the big races.”

David Hayes will attempt to supplant Lor’s plans with Nervous Witness, who was narrowly beaten last start by Cordyceps Six in the G3 Sha Tin Vase Handicap (1200m) on 22 May.

“He’s held his form, his trial was good, but he seems to really like the pressure of 1200m races,” Hayes said.

“He’s weakness is when the tempo is not fast, he can tend to over-race – that won’t be an issue this weekend (because) there’s a lot of speed in the race and if he can jump well and cruise across from the gate (barrier nine) without too much pressure, he’ll be there in the end.”

Hayes is unperturbed by Nervous Witness rising from 114lb last start to Friday’s 130lb impost for Zac Purton.

“I think the opposition are probably 16lb worse, so it’s all relative,” the dual Hong Kong champion trainer said. “If he’s good enough to win on Friday, his rating will give us no choice – we’ll be targeting the big races.”