Lor's Mission Tycoon defies distance query in Classic Cup

5 min read
Is there anything Frankie Lor can't do? The second year trainer produced another masterpiece when Mission Tycoon was stretched to 1800m to win the Classic Cup at massive odds

By Michael Cox

The Frankie Lor phenomenon continued in Hong Kong when the sophomore sensation again trained the first two home and produced a blowout result when Mission Tycoon (Written Tycoon) beat hot favourite Dark Dream (All American) in the HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Cup.

The lure of Hong Kong Derby glory leads many owners to push horses better suited to sprint races into the 4-year-old series and despite a second at 204-1 in the Classic Mile, Mission Tycoon's presence in the 1800m second leg wasn't taken seriously by punters.

Clearly the Sha Tin faithful felt Lor was simply ceding to overzealous owner's wishes by entering Mission Tycoon in the feature and he went around unwanted at 92-1.

But once Mission Tycoon's jockey Derek Leung stole a cheap lead from a tricky draw and proceeded to jam the handbrake on down the long back straight, with Zac Purton taking a cautious sit back off the leader's hip on the odds-on favourite, the chances of another Classic Cup upset grew.

The slow sectionals meant it was far from a staying test and turned into a sprint home from the final turn, leaving Dark Dream flat-footed and fellow Australian import and Lor-trained charge Furore (NZ) (Pierro) an impossible task from back in the field.

"We didn't have a good draw but we were able to go forward without any pressure," Leung said. "He switched off very well, and that's why he was able to finish at the end."

Derby distance queries

For all of Written Tycoon's success as a sire, most of it has been with sharp sprinters, but now the Woodside Park Stud has himself a Hong Kong Derby hope.

There is a big difference between Sha Tin's 1800m starting point, with it's long run from a chute down the back straight, and the rough-and-tumble tactics of a two-turn, 2,000m Derby though, and Leung admitted to some serious distance queries ahead of the big one on March 16.

At 2000m he would need to be more mature, he needs a good spot, that would be better for him." - Jockey, Derek Leung

"The (Derby) distance would be a big concern for him," Leung said, adding that he would be likely to take a hold and not try and lead up in trip. "This was 1800m and he was switched off, and all of the race he was good and behaved himself, but I think that might be too far for him. At 2000m he would need to be more mature, he needs a good spot, that would be better for him."

Mission Tycoon was a $50,000 purchase from the Phoenix Broodmare Farm draft at the 2016 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale.

Mission Tycoon as a yearling

Training sensation

The win continued a sparkling second season for Lor, who has backed his record of turning around tried horses transferred to his stable with an ability to get the best from top liners.

The popular handler was second to his former mentor John Size in his rookie season with 65 wins but has followed that by maintaining his place in the top five of the trainers' championship and a clutch of feature wins.

Lor won two of the four G1s on International Day late last year with Mr Stunning (Exceed And Excel) taking the G1 Hong Kong Sprint and Glorious Forever (GB) (Archipenko {USA}) won the G1 Hong Kong Cup.

Lor followed that with a Hong Kong Classic Mile quinella and appears to hold most of the aces heading into the HKG1 Hong Kong Derby.

Trainer Frankie Lor

Zac Purton tactically supreme

Earlier in the day Zac Purton brought up a G1 double when Beauty Generation (NZ) (Road To Rock) stretched his winning sequence to seven straight and Exultant (Teofilo {Ire}) benefitted from a brilliant tactical ride by the top Australian jockey.

Beauty Generation won a second straight G1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup as a step back in distance at Sha Tin proved no barrier to the monster miler's dominance.

As usual in the Hong Kong sprints, Australian and New Zealand-bred horses dominated the field, and placing’s, with nine of the 10 runners bred in Australasia and the first eight across the line.

Beat The Clock (Hinchinbrook) had come off a breakthrough last-start G1 win in the Centenary Sprint Cup and while he was brave, he could only battle away for second, just ahead of Conte (Starcraft {NZ}).

Beat The Clock came within a head of Beauty Generation in last year's Queen's Silver Jubilee but the bigger margin 12 months later, this time John Moore's horse strolled in by 1.75-lengths, showing the type of progression the current horse of the year has taken this season.

Travel for Beauty?

Beauty Generation didn't have to improve much given the dominance he already held over the mile division but the import has returned for his 6-year-old season in mind-bending form. The John Moore runner has won all six of his starts this season and three in a row at G1 level.

The question will continue to be asked if or when Beauty Generation will head overseas, but early indications from Moore were that he would stay in Hong Kong and chase the all-time prizemoney record.

The current record stands at HK$83,197,500 won by Moore's former champ Viva Pataca (GB) (Marju {Ire}) and Sunday's win took beauty Generation to HK$72,087,500, nearly A$13 million.