The very talented Extra Brut was lost earlier this morning following a freak accident. Photo by HKJC.

Michael Cox’s HK Six-Up: Lor’s Derby contenders down after Extra Brut death

Michael Cox




Frankie Lor’s chances of winning a second Hong Kong Derby suffered a severe body blow with the shock loss of Extra Brut in a freak walking machine accident early on Tuesday morning.

The 2018 Victoria Derby winner was due to trial on Tuesday but was killed when his head collar became attached to a walking machine and the four-year-old suffered a leg injury.

Lor’s opinion of Extra Brut had turned around from the horse’s early time in the stable. The expensive import, formerly trained by since-banned Darren Weir, had shown little in his initial trackwork and trials, but produced a barnstorming run from the rear to finish third first-up.

The third year trainer – who won the 2019 Derby with Furore – still has a handy string aimed at the autumn classic, with Decrypt and Super Oasis (ex-Surely Sacred).

Super Oasis made his first local appearance with a sound fifth behind early Derby elect More Than This on International Day and Dercypt – a 93-rater owned by Albert Hung of Rapper Dragon fame – makes his debut in a 1400m Class 2 (105-80) this Sunday at Sha Tin.


Cruz bullish about Derby hopes

With International Day behind us, attention turns to the four-year-old series, and Tony Cruz had a spring in his step at trackwork on Tuesday after Private Secretary’s trial.

Cruz has won the Derby twice as a trainer (Lucky Owners in 2004 and Helene Mascot in 2008) and loves what he sees in the Siu Pak Kwan-owned colt.

Private Secretary won three from six for John Gosden, including a Listed win over 2240m in the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood, and was fourth behind Japan in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.

“I really like this horse and that trial was exactly what we wanted,” Cruz said after the 87-rater worked home for second in his third trial for the trainer.

With two of those trials forward efforts over 1600m on the turf, Cruz may elect to throw Private Secretary into a Class 2 over 2000m on December 21 at Sha Tin for his first local run.


Pingwu pushed into gates

Problem horse Pingwu Spark was back at the trials on Tuesday as Jockey Club staff and jockey Derek Leung attempted to coax the 1300-pound plus behemoth into the starting stalls at Sha Tin.

Massive grey horse Pingwu Spark is closing in on his final warning. Photo HKJC.


The massive grey is essentially on a last warning from stewards after refusing to load before last month’s Group 2 Jockey Club Sprint.

Not only will the seven-year-old face compulsory retirement if he fails a barrier test in three qualifying trials, he will face the Club’s Board of Stewards with a recommendation to be retired if he refuses to load at any stage in the future.


Pakistan Star restart

Paul O’Sullivan is philosophical about his short time in charge of Hong Kong’s ultimate problem horse Pakistan Star, who will soon depart for a fresh start in Dubai.

While Pingwu Spark wouldn’t start in the Jockey Club Sprint, Pakistan Star did start, then soon stopped at around the same spot as his infamous “Pakistan Stop” incident in 2017.

O’Sullivan trained Pakistan Star for four fair efforts – two fifths, a third and a fourth – before the gelding dug his heels in.

“He was a freakish talent, but he was like an athlete that had all the talent in the world but all he wants to do is sit around drinking beer all day,” O’Sullivan said.

“I tried everything I could and hopefully his new trainer can get the best out of him. Maybe the new environment will help.”


Rispoli restart

Credit to Umberto Rispoli for refusing to accept mid-table mediocrity and relocating to United States to continue his career.

Rispoli has five wins from 100 rides so far this season but with another mid-season shake up of the jockey colony looming as others consider leaving (see next item), he could have easily chipped away and made a good living at Sha Tin.

A two-time champion in his homeland of Italy, Rispoli’s biggest Hong Kong win came on Rulership at the end of his first stint in 2012, and he has 117 winners to date.


Umberto Rispoli bowed to the crowd after he won the QEII abroad Rulership in emphatic fashion in 2012. Photo by HKJC.


Rispoli may be languishing near the bottom of the championship but he has big race blood in his veins and will begin an exciting new era based out of Santa Anita.

The 31-year-old will arrive in the United States as early as next week and will be represented by agent Ron Anderson, who told American outlet Thoroughbred Daily News that it Rispoli comes recommended by Frankie Dettori.

“He said the kid wanted to come to the US and asked if I would be his agent,” Anderson told TDN. “He is a two-time champion in Italy, has an American style and has an unbelievable work ethic. He’s ridden all over the world. He’s a world-class rider, has no bad habits and is a real professional. I’m excited to go to work for him.”


Wanted: world class jockeys

The Jockey Club is facing something of a recruitment crisis as the mid-season licensing announcement approach after youngster Regan Bayliss revealed that he would return to Melbourne in February after struggling at Sha Tin.

Come February and the mid-season licensing period, that will leave the Jockey Club down three of its full-time roster spots after Aldo Domeyer’s, and now Rispoli’s, early exits.

After closing the door on veterans like Gerald Mosse, Douglas Whyte, Olivier Doleuze and Brett Prebble – as well as the banning of Nash Rawiller – in recent years, the Jockey Club’s gamble on youth has failed.

After cherry picking the most promising young talents from Australia and South Africa, it would seem the club are now in a tricky spot. Australian Blake Shinn was meant to be the rider to fill the void left by his countryman Rawiller but he is currently five from 119 and needs to turn things around. The situation for South African young gun Lyle Hewitson is dire with a zero from 102 record.

The question is, who has the right resume, but wants to come mid-season and try to break into a top-ten that looks set. If anymore riders leave it will leave the Club scrambling to find three or more suitable applicants to finish the season.




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