Lor mulls LONGINES HKIR tilt with Money Catcher, De Sousa posts four-timer
Frankie Lor will consider aiming Money Catcher at the HK$34 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) at Sha Tin next month after the import ended a frustrating string of near-misses with G3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse Handicap (1800m) victory at Sha Tin on Sunday (6 November).
Prevailing for the first time at his 13th Hong Kong start under a masterful Silvestre de Sousa ride, Money Catcher (115lb) belied his reputation as a perennial bridesmaid – he had accumulated four seconds, four thirds and a fourth before today’s triumph – by tenaciously fending off favourite Beauty Joy (135lb).
Pointing to the 20-pound weight differential, De Sousa crowned a monumental day with a four-timer, which also enabled the Brazilian to annex the 100-win milestone in Hong Kong.
“Money Catcher was obviously the best handicapped on the day and I was very lucky to pick up that ride with that weight and I thought Ka Ying Star would go on, but he didn’t want to do it so I just went along in front,” De Sousa said, after idling through the first 1000m in 59.98s before gradually increasing the tempo over the last 800m in 46.36s.
“The horse likes to be there (leading) and I knew with the weight he was carrying at the 800m, that something (good) would happen. I hope this win can build his confidence for next time. He’s had plenty of chances and hasn’t delivered but today he had a good handicap.”
Lor will decide over the next week what path to take with Money Catcher, who finished third in last season’s BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) behind Romantic Warrior.
“Maybe, maybe, but I'll still have a look over the next few days,” Lor responded when asked if the Ferlax gelding would be set for Group 1 duty next month.
“This horse (is) very unlucky always. Second, third, fourth. This time, I win the race for the owners. Really happy. We wait for the win for a long time. We planned, if no one wanted to lead, we could lead by ourselves. I don't know, maybe he (Ka Ying Star) jumped a bit slow, that's why we could lead by ourselves. It was really good for him.”
Beautyverse emerged as a potential G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) contender after Tony Cruz newcomer’s produced a stunning debut victory in the Class 2 Neogence Handicap (1600m) under Zac Purton to deliver a HK$2 million PP Bonus, plus prize money of HK$1.653 million for an overall windfall HK$3.653 million.
Beautyverse, who was rated 82 pre-race, earned the HK$2 million bonus for winning his first Hong Kong race at Class 2 or above before reaching five years of age while rated 80 or higher.
Bought after his G1 South Australian Derby (2500m) win at Morphettville in May when he raced as Jungle Magnate, Beautyverse rolled forward from barrier 14 to lead – against his typical Australian racing pattern – to defy the opposition.
Cruz indicated the 2023 BMW Hong Derby (2000m) was Beautyverse’s more likely feature target at this stage.
“It was very impressive. He's got class and I was expecting to win this race. We still ran him a bit short of his best distance, next time we're going to run him at 1800m or 2000m.
“This horse has a bright future - he's got a lot of ability and quality. The Derby is the main goal, he is a Derby contender but I haven't planned how he will get there yet,” Cruz said.
Purton now has 35 wins for the season – 20 more than closest pursuer Vincent Ho (15) – and was equally taken with Beautyverse.
“It was an impressive effort, wasn’t it? Horses sort of don’t do what he did in that grade first time in Hong Kong unless they’re pretty smart. That wasn’t his racing pattern in Australia to race like that and Tony said to me earlier in the day that he expected the horse to lead,” Purton said.
“I didn’t think he would have the speed to do it and, to be honest, he didn’t have the speed early but because we drew out wide and there was nowhere to get in, I just kept him rolling. He’s got a really nice action when he’s moving along like that and I thought he showed a lot of heart.”
Purton also piloted John Size-trained Erimo to a comfortable win in the Class 3 Suisse Programme Handicap (1400m), having earlier kick-started Chris So’s three-timer atop Smart Leader.
De Sousa reached the Hong Kong 100-win mark in spectacular fashion. He first combined with Tony Cruz to land the Class 4 Grace One Handicap (1200m) aboard Brave Dreams before bringing up the century with Turquoise Alpha in the Class 4 Ahava Handicap (1600m) for Pierre Ng.
Ng and De Sousa later successfully teamed up in the penultimate race with Science Patch, who narrowly defeated Good Buddy and a luckless Beauty Eternal to clinch the Class 3 La Estephe Handicap (1200m).
“It’s great and thanks to Pierre, he’s been giving the opportunities and kept me on his horses who are running well and it’s nice to achieve that goal,” De Sousa, a three-time British Champion Jockey, said.
Chris So enjoyed a stunning afternoon, slotting a treble inside the first four races.
Eight-year-old Smart Leader bolted in with the Class 5 L’Oreal Paris Handicap (1200m) for Purton, giving So the first leg of the three-timer before Matthew Chadwick extracted the best from Flying High in a short-head victory over Baby Crystal in the Class 4 Kate Tokyo Handicap (1000m) proved decisive.
Angus Chung then produced a wonderful ride aboard Young Victory in the Class 4 Canmake Tokyo Handicap (1400m) to seal So’s treble.
“To have three winners today, I’m a bit surprised. It feels good, of course, and I’m very happy. The training ranks are very competitive but I’m not going too bad,” said So, who has nine winners for the campaign.
Frankie Lor will attempt to build A Pal’s rating in a bid to contest the HK$48 million Four-Year-Old Classic Series after the gelding’s striking victory under Derek Leung in the Class 3 Eleanor Handicap (1400m).
“His rating today was 66, so maybe he might get 10 points, but he would still need to win again to get into the Four-Year-Old Classic Series,” Lor said after the More Than Ready chestnut earned a HK$1 million PP bonus for Lee Sheung Chau, who raced BMW Hong Kong Derby winner Furore in the same colours.
“He’s a nice horse but he still needs to relax more.”
A Pal formerly raced as Oughton in Australia, winning a 1400m maiden race at Sandown, when trained by Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes.
Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (9 November).