Four days out from the much-anticipated return of Golden Sixty’s attempt to post a 12th consecutive triumph, the champion galloper’s trainer Francis Lui continued an excellent season with a Happy Valley treble.
Igniting wins the nightcap to seal Lui’s treble, photo Hong Kong jockey Club
Proving adept at opposite ends of the age and potential scale, Lui logged a trio with veteran Winston’s Lad, emerging sprinter Stock Legend and the talented Igniting to move into outright fourth on the trainers’ premiership with 29 wins for the season.
Lui’s tally is bettered, after the 39th of 88 meetings, by only Caspar Fownes (39), Frankie Lor (32) and John Size (31).
Typically measured in post-race analysis, Lui was delighted with Stock Legend’s success in section one of the Class 4 Sam Chuk Handicap (1200m), predicting the Sidestep gelding still has plenty of scope for improvement given sometimes costly racing manners.
“Last time even when he won the race, he had a really bad habit of missing the start and he had his head turned on the side, doing all the silly things,” Lui said.
“We took the time to educate him and also Joao (Moreira) is a big help - he helped teach him.”
Nine-year-old Winston’s Lad notched his ninth win in Hong Kong, boosting his earnings to HK$7.67 million. The Churchill Downs gelding arrived in Hong Kong on a rating of 67, eight months before his debut win.
“He also took a long time to pick up his first win, but now he’s really honest,” Lui said before addressing questions about Golden Sixty ahead of Sunday’s G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m).
“He’s Ok, everything is good - he’s ready.”
Lui rounded out the program on a high when Igniting sped to the lead in section one of the Class 3 Sheung Hei Handicap (1200m) under Zac Purton – and was never headed in a striking performance.
Lui said Hong Kong Classic Mile contender Lucky Patch was on the improve and confident the four-year-old would have no trouble getting 1600m.