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Money Catcher lifts G3 January Cup for Frankie Lor, Silvestre de Sousa sizzles with a quartet

January 12, 2023 at 2:48:47 AM

Bolstering a reputation as an emerging contender among Hong Kong’s staying division, Money Catcher franked an excellent G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) performance last month with a brave G3 January Cup Handicap (1800m) triumph for Frankie Lor as Silvestre de Sousa dominated with a four-timer at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (11 January).

Bolstering a reputation as an emerging contender among Hong Kong’s staying division, Money Catcher franked an excellent G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) performance last month with a brave G3 January Cup Handicap (1800m) triumph for Frankie Lor as Silvestre de Sousa dominated with a four-timer at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (11 January).

Driven to the front by De Sousa, Money Catcher (127lb) lowered Doctor Geoff’s class record with a strong gallop of 1m 47.94s as former the New Zealander downed Packing Award (115lb) by a length with a charging Rise Brethren (115lb) third, a further neck back.

Third behind star stayer Romantic Warrior in the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin on 11 December, Money Catcher further distanced himself from a reputation as a serial place-getter by delivering his second win – along with nine minor placings – from 16 starts in Hong Kong.

De Sousa predicted Money Catcher would continue to rise after notching his most significant win so far after adding tonight’s victory to a breakthrough win at Sha Tin over 1800m on 6 November.

“He’s an improving horse and since he’s got his head in front, it’s brought him confidence and he’s been running better races – he ran on International Day and he ran a great third,” De Sousa said. “Through the season, this will be the improving horse.

“Today, I felt he was a bit lost on the track – a bit goofy – and the track could be a bit tight for him. He’s a bit unit, he’s a galloping horse but he pulled it off well.”

Money Catcher provided Lor with his first January Cup success since Simply Brilliant in 2019 – and extended the reigning Hong Kong champion trainer’s lead in the 2022/23 standings to four with Lor holding a 29-25 margin over Tony Cruz.

Lor said: “He deserved that, he’s always consistent and when he can lead or sit second or third, he is good.”

Revelling in his finest performance since returning to Hong Kong, triple British Flat champion jockey De Sousa said: “It’s been a good night, the horses came to the races in good form and I’m very lucky to manage to keep the rides.”

Celebrating a double, Manfred Man indicated the fourth of De Sousa’s winners – Encountered, who claimed the Class 3 Cleveland Handicap (1650m) – would be set on a BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) trail.

“I will keep him at the same distance for his next start, but the owner is keen to go for the Hong Kong Derby with this horse,” Man said of the Irish-bred four-year-old, who was on a rating of 74 before his latest victory. “It was a good performance.”

Man and De Sousa combined earlier on the programme with Hero Star in the third section of the Class 4 Great George Handicap (1200m) before De Sousa cut loose with further success with a tactically supreme front-running display on Super Baby (135lb) to seal a brace, reeling off sedate early sectionals before prevailing by a short head in the Class 4 Kingston Handicap (1650m) for Ricky Yiu.

Zac Purton ended a rare double-figure losing streak with a characteristically precise ride aboard David Hayes-trained Sunny Baby to land the Class 5 Paterson Handicap (1800m), ending a 18-ride run of outs.

“It was good to see Zac get a good winner but I’ve been watching him around Happy Valley and he’s had a lot of bad barriers recently,” Hayes said. “When this horse got a good barrier, I was very relieved – the horse has been really good, he’s been genuinely unlucky at his past two starts but he got a good barrier tonight and a good run and he won easily.”

Purton boosted his tally to 74 wins – 36 ahead of Vincent Ho – by closing the meeting successfully atop Jamie Richards-trained Armour Eagle in the Class 3 Causeway Handicap (1200m).

Handsome Bo Bo returned to the winners’ list for the first time since May of 2021 and posted his seventh Hong Kong victory by clinching the Class 2 Cannon Handicap (1000m) for Danny Shum after a brilliant Hugh Bowman ride.

“He had a blood problem last start, so we sent him to Conghua and left him for a little bit and he could take it easy, but the most important thing tonight was that Hugh Bowman rode a great race on him – he’s riding with confidence. It’s amazing.”

Shum vaulted into the fifth position in the Hong Kong trainers’ championship after Lyle Hewitson’s patient display enabled Happy Soul to land the first section of the Class 4 Great George Handicap (1200m) as Jimmy Ting registered his stable’s 10th win of the season when Derek Leung drove Prime Mortar to victory in the second section of the Class 4 Great George Handicap (1200m).

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday (15 January).

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