Lui closes in on HK title

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Lui closes in on HK title

FRANCIS LUI

Luke Middlebrook: Racing remains at Sha Tin on Wednesday for a mixed turf and dirt 10-race day meeting.

Trainer Francis Lui is in serious contention for a first trainers’ premiership after a timely double at last Saturday’s meeting, bringing him within one of current leader Ricky Yiu.

After a four-timer at Happy Valley last Wednesday, Lui’s double at Sha Tin on Saturday put himself right in contention for his maiden championship. In fact, the three-way tussle between Lui, Yiu and Tony Cruz continued as they all enjoyed winners, but it was Lui who came out on top for the day as the only one of the trio to have multiple successes.

The double takes Lui to 61 winners for the term – 15 clear of his previous best from 2018-19 – with Yiu on 62 while Cruz sits in third on 58. Should Yiu and Lui tie on a win count, the latter looks well-placed to win on a countback, as he boasts five more second place finishes than Yiu – 43 to 38.

The battle for the Hong Kong jockeys’ premiership took a backseat to the trainers’ title, but Joao Moreira was able to pull one win back on Zac Purton.

The Brazilian rode a double to Purton’s single score, but that still left the Australian six wins ahead with five fixtures left, one of which Moreira will sit out due to suspension.

Moreira hit the mark on the Manfred Man-trained E Star in the Class 3 Handicap (1200m) before capturing a satisfying victory on this column’s best bet Heza Beauty in the Class 4 Handicap (1400m).

It is thriving local jockey Vincent Ho to whom we turn to boot home one of the better bets on the card in Winning Dreamer in the Class 3 1000m in Race 10.

The three-year-old lived up to expectations with an impressive debut victory at this track and distance in late May, comfortably putting away well-performed Class 4 rivals in the process.

The three-year-old was heavily backed into $2.40 favouritism from a $4.20 high, and followers barely had a nervous moment as he stretched out nicely inside the 200m for a facile 1.75-length winning margin.

Winning Dreamer stopped the clock at a sizzling 55.59 seconds with race-day jockey Ho full of praise: “Hopefully he’ll be in Group races in time,” he said.

Trainer Frankie Lor has trialled Winning Dreamer in between runs and the up-and-comer finished powerfully late to take out his 1050m heat in very likeable fashion. He looks more than capable of handling the rise in class and should be remaining unbeaten.

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