Teacher takes on former pupil in BMW Hong Kong Derby

4 min read

By Alan Carasso

In the 1986 movie ‘The Color of Money,’ Paul Newman’s character ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson teaches Tom Cruise’s character Vincent Lauria all the tricks of the trade, only to have a falling out and later crossing paths as competitors in the pool hall.

The relationship between trainers John Size and Frankie Lor is far less adversarial and there is plenty of mutual respect between the two, as Sha Tin Racecourse serves as the pair’s green felt for the HK$18-million BMW Hong Kong Derby.

Between them, they will saddle up half of the 14 runners that will load right in front of the grandstand just after 4.30 local time Sunday afternoon. Size is fresh off his third win in the 4-year-old feature, having worked his magic with Ping Hai Star (NZ) (Nom du Jeu {NZ}), jumping him from 1400 metres in handicap company to a Derby success under masterful steering from Ryan Moore 12 months ago.

John Size

Waikuku (Ire) (Harbour Watch {Ire}) is cut from a similar cloth, having won over the metric seven furlongs two starts back ahead of a smooth score going 1800m Mar. 2. A shade of doubt was cast on his participation earlier in the week owing to a minor foot issue, but it’s full speed ahead, even if Joao Moreira will have to work out a trip from the widest alley, from which Ambitious Dragon (NZ) (Pins {Aus}, 2011) and the Size-conditioned Fay Fay (NZ) (Falkirk, 2012) managed a victory.

Apprentice taking on the master

As has been well documented, Lor was Size’s assistant for many years before striking out on his own for a record-breaking freshman season in 2017-2018. While Waikuku is clearly the pick of the Size quartet, the Lor trio is much more difficult to separate. Furore (NZ) (Pierro {Aus}), the promoted third-place finisher in last year’s G1 Rosehill Guineas, won the Hong Kong Classic Mile in January over a trip widely believed to be well short of his best, but stablemate Mission Tycoon (Aus) (Written Tycoon {Aus}), second at $205 in the Classic Mile, caused a massive boilover in the Hong Kong Classic Cup, defeating Lor’s third entrant, 2018 G1 Queensland Derby hero Dark Dream (Aus) (All American {Aus}), as a $92 pop.

"While Waikuku is clearly the pick of the Size quartet, the Lor trio is much more difficult to separate." - Alan Carasso

Furore stayed on for fourth. Mission Tycoon figures to vie for the lead with Classic Mile/Classic Cup third Ka Ying Star (GB) (Cityscape {GB}), but there are lingering doubts about the ability of those two front-runners to see out Sunday’s 2000m trip. There are no such queries about Furore and Dark Dream, though they would be suited by a more truly run race.

Frankie Lor

Harmony Victory (Brz) (Public Purse) will start at rough odds likely somewhere in the mid-teens, but an argument can be made that he hasn’t been able to strut his stuff to best effect in the first two legs of the Classic series. Like several of the runners in the Classic Mile, he was inconvenienced--perhaps more than any of his rivals--when Furore bulled his way out at the 300m, causing a chain reaction that also cost Dark Dream some momentum.

"The Brazilian Group 1 winner looms a solid each-way chance. " - Alan Carasso

A creditable fifth that day, he had no luck from a high draw in the Classic Cup, was asked for a middle move while without cover on the turn and flattened late to fill fifth position. He is much more favourably drawn in gate one this time and if Silvestre de Sousa can find the gaps, the Brazilian Group 1 winner looms a solid each-way chance.

The Derby, the richest domestic event on the local racing calendar, goes as the eighth race on a 10-race card program.

To view the TDN cheatsheet on the Derby field: