Master Eight is shaping up as one of Hong Kong’s rising sprint stars and trainer Frankie Lor is hopeful the speedster can intensify his development in Saturday’s (1 January) HKD$3.7 million Group 3 Bauhinia Sprint Trophy Handicap (1000m) – his toughest test to date.
“It’s his first time at Group 3 level but the horse is in good form and he has a light weight,” Lor said. “He looks like he can step up – I think he is another good sprinter.”
Debuting last season in May, the unconquered son of Oamaru Force has risen from Class 4 to Class 2 across only four runs – swiftly enhancing his rating from 52 to 95.
Last outing Master Eight (118lb) made his first start down the straight at Sha Tin, downing seven others with relative ease in a slick 55.42s, including Nervous Witness and Hong Kong Win (114lb), the latter he faces again this weekend, while Computer Patch (133lb), Super Wealthy (131lb), Sight Success (127lb), Voyage Warrior (122lb), Keep You Warm (113lb) and Valiant Dream (113lb) make up the field.
“Last time he ran well down the 1000 metre straight at his first try, so my only concern is that this is his first run at Group 3 level,” Lor said.
Joao Moreira will again take the reins atop the prodigious talent and the pair will step away from gate five.
Frankie Lor also saddles Healthy Happy for his seasonal return in the HKD$3.7 million Group 3 Chinese Club Challenge Cup Handicap (1400m) this weekend.
“I think he’s ready to come back, I’ve given him three trials already and every time he has kept improving. He can only run at this level with his rating, so we cannot change that,” Lor said.
Initially entered to run in the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile against Golden Sixty, Lor opted against the almighty challenge for the 109-rater.
“Last time I thought it was just too hard for him against Golden Sixty in the Hong Kong Mile,” Lor said. “First-up this season, the 1400 metres should be better for him.”
The five-year-old is a three-time winner in Hong Kong from nine starts, including last season’s HKD$12 million Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m).
“After the last trial, Alexis (Badel) told me that the horse is much better than his last two trials, that he jumped fast and kept wanting to go in front,” Lor said.
The Frenchman Badel takes the reins again this weekend with 132lb allotted from gate seven against Champion’s Way (133lb), Buddies (131lb), Lucky Express (128lb), Duke Wai (127lb), Excellent Proposal (125lb) and Master Montaro (117lb).
“He’s won over 1400 (metres) before, so first-up over this distance should be no problem for him,” Lor said.
The Zoustar gelding boasts wins in Hong Kong over 1200m, 1400m and 1800m, while prior to import he won twice (1100m and 1400m) in Australia when under the care of Peter & Paul Snowden.
“I will see how he goes (this Saturday), if he goes good, maybe he can run in the Stewards Cup (Group 1, 1600m),” Lor said, referencing a possible clash with Golden Sixty on Sunday, 23 January.