Frankie Lor's Hong Kong Derby dream comes true
Bowman steers Furore to beat the favourite Waikuku at Sha Tin
When Furore won the BMW Hong Kong Derby over 2,000m at Sha Tin on Sunday, it fulfilled Frankie Lor's dream of becoming the first "home-grown" Hong Kong trainer to land the race for 11 years.
"I can't express my feelings," said the handler, after claiming Hong Kong's most prestigious local prize in only his second season with a trainer's licence.
Lor, 53, whose father was a stableboy, was born into racing. He grew up in Happy Valley and came through the ranks , rising from stablehand to jockey to assistant and now trainer.
"To have one horse to even run in the Derby - now I've won the Derby, so it's a dream come true," he said.
Tony Cruz was the last "local" trainer to win the race. He did it with Helene Mascot and Lor's Furore emulated that horse in winning the Derby after first claiming the Hong Kong Classic Mile, but failing in the Hong Kong Classic Cup in between.
Lor has advanced rapidly to where he is now. He has saddled three of the blue riband's four top-rated gallopers. But his Derby breakthrough came in no small part as a result of an astute ride from one of the world's great exponents of jockeyship - Hugh Bowman.
Bowman charted Furore's path from a wide starting point, rolling his mount forward and slotting neatly into a handy berth one spot off the rail, all before the field of 14 had made it through the first turn.
"Although Furore drew poorly, I was confident he could do the job if I could get him in the right position," said the Australian ace.
"As it turned out, I was able to get a lovely run three pairs back."
That proved to be the perfect position for the Australian import as Ka Ying Star and Mission Tycoon shared the lead in pedestrian style.
That tempo seemed to foil the chances of favourite Waikuku, taken back from gate 14 to sit second-last under Joao Moreira.
Waikuku was 11 lengths off the lead down the back straight and, when Moreira asked for progress approaching the 1,000m point, the Irish import was slow to respond.
Zac Purton, meanwhile, knew his chances on the stamina-laden Lor runner Dark Dream were being compromised.
"I was pleased when Zac pressed on with Dark Dream," said Bowman.
"It just gave me a dream cart into the race and my horse was able to get the job done as he did over the mile two starts ago."
Waikuku did produce a crowd-raising late challenge, though.
He came to life on the turn for home as he discovered a rhythm, entering the straight with momentum flowing but a steep task to surmount.
Lor will now point Furore towards FWD Champions Day at Sha Tin on April 28, with the FWD QEII Cup at the course and distance the likely option, although the handler is going to cover his bases.
"I think I will enter for the QEII Cup because there's plenty of time to that race next month," he said.
"But I will probably enter for the Champions Mile as well and then decide later." - HKJC