Hong Kong


Francis Lui claims Hong Kong trainers’ championship lead with double

A pivotal double with two emerging talents at Sha Tin on Saturday (15 June) has catapulted Francis Lui into the 2023/24 Hong Kong trainers’ championship lead, setting the scene for an intense battle with long-time leader Pierre Ng across the final seven meetings of the season.

Ng, who had led the standings since 5 November, 2023, now trails Lui 63-62 after his former mentor struck with Karate Express and Call Me Glorious on a day of fluctuating fortunes as the championship lead changed hands three times after the pair started the meeting with 61 wins each.

Call Me Glorious with Zac Purton caps a Francis Lui brace at Sha Tin, photo Hong Kong Jockey Club

Karate Express gave Lui the ascendency with victory in the Yan Chau Tong Plate (1000m) for Griffins before Ng reclaimed the lead with Captain Win, who scored his first win since November, 2021 with success in the first section of the Class 4 Kau Sai Chau Handicap (1200m).

The see-sawing tussle continued when Lui edged ahead with Call Me Glorious’ runaway victory in the Class 3 Clear Water Bay Handicap (1200m) under Zac Purton.

“It's only one win and there are still plenty of races to go. Hopefully we can have some more winners coming,” Lui said of the championship battle.

Ng was philosophical about the title, declaring: “I counted from our last 10 meetings, we had three winners and nine seconds, which is not too ideal. Luckily, we got a winner today. I think we'll fight to the end and hopefully won't be far off Francis. Maybe it will take until the last day to decide.”

Ridden quietly by Lyle Hewitson, two-year-old Karate Express speared through a gap late to claim Ka Ying Resilience.

“I think he's got potential. He's only two years old and the gap was very narrow. When it opened, he fought. It's a good sign,” Lui said. “I think the main thing is in the off-season, hopefully he can grow up and he'll have a good future.”

Ridden by Karis Teetan, Captain Win returned to the winners’ list after a string of near-misses, including six seconds and two thirds since his last victory.

“He (Captain Win) has been running well. Sometimes he faces races with slow pace, which isn't ideal for him to finish off. He still gets prize money and now he's down in class, it's much easier for him,” Ng said.

Purton was impressed with Call Me Glorious, who could be set for next season’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series after the No Nay Never gelding scored by six and a half lengths – the largest winning margin of the season.

“Obviously it was a good performance, he’s an improving horse but he got it very easy in the first and second sections and he might have loved the ground as well,” Purton said. “He seemed to accelerate through it quite well, he did a good job, but he could have been flattered by the conditions.”

Glory Elite continued a rich vein of form with victory in the second section of the Class 4 Kau Sai Chau Handicap (1200m) under Derek Leung. The Russian Revolution three-year-old surged to a comfortable two and a length victory on soft ground to give Jimmy Ting his 11th winner of the campaign.

Mark Newnham’s Tactical Command relished the afternoon’s conditions in overhauling Colonel to win the Class 5 Port Shelter Handicap (1200m) under Alexis Badel before Michael Chang’s Casa Legend overcame a poor start under Matthew Poon to land the Class 5 Chung Chau Handicap (1600m).

Badel completed a double when David Hall’s Aca Power finished powerfully in the straight to crown a fine season with victory in the Class 4 Kiu Tsui Handicap (1200m, dirt).

“Before the race I said ‘I don’t know much more he’s got to give’ because he’s just run so well throughout the season,” Hall said. “You think at some point, they might come to the end of it, but he’s just a very honest, genuine racehorse.

“He’s turned up every time he’s been at the races and to reel off a performance like that, we might give him a rest now.”

Caspar Fownes and Ricky Yiu matched Lui’s feat in completing doubles.

Capital Delight notched his third win this season for Fownes with success in the Class 3 Grass Island Handicap (1200m, dirt) under Vincent Ho. Fownes and Ho also combined in the meeting finale when Karma swept to victory in the Class 3 Kat O Handicap (1600m).

Yiu enjoyed a race-to-race double when Sunlight Power notched his third course and distance victory of the campaign in the Class 3 Hoi Ha Handicap (1400m) under Jerry Chau before Antoine Hamelin guided All Riches to an easy win in the Class 4 Mirs Bay Handicap (1400m).

Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday (23 June) after the completion of the Royal Ascot meeting, which runs from Tuesday (18 June) until Saturday (22 June).