A menacing force on the surface Kings Shield is looking to stamp his authority as Hong Kong’s unofficial dirt course kingpin in Wednesday night’s (29 December) lucrative Class 1 Fo Tan Handicap (1650m, dirt) at Sha Tin the second race of the midweek fixture’s no-nonsense all-dirt programme.
Eyeing a fifth course and distance win in the HK$3.15 million feature, the American-bred son of Scat Daddy bossed opponents first-up by two and a half lengths on the dirt under Derek Leung before – as usual – failing to fire on the grass at his second outing.
“He won well two runs ago, he has quality on the dirt and he is quite a straightforward horse,” Leung said, referencing the six-year-old’s all-the-way success in October.
Kings Shield (133lb) steps away from gate four in tomorrow night’s quality-filled feature, squaring off against six others including Will Power (130lb), Californiadeepshot (126lb), Telecom Fighters (123lb), Silver Express (122lb), The Rock (120lb) and Red Desert (116lb).
“This time you can see a few horses may go forward to sit handy but if I can control the pace in the beginning it will be an advantage to him – let’s see how he jumps and settles over the first 200 (metres),” Leung said of the 106-rater.
Leung has partnered the dirt expert in two of his wins on the surface, while Zac Purton has been in the plate for the other two.
“The horse seems more mature, he was relaxed in his latest trial because he used to be quite aggressive in the gates, now that he’s getting older he is getting more relaxed, but at the races he still knows what he’s doing which is good for him,” Leung said.
The galloper crossed the line seventh in a recent trial on a rain affected dirt course at Sha Tin, clocking 1m 12.95s over 1200m – untouched by Leung throughout.
Prior to import, Kings Shield was trained by John Gosden in Great Britain. He boasted two wins there – both times on synthetic surfaces at Newcastle and Kempton.
He also returned two midfield efforts on the turf at G1 level: sixth in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (1600m) and fifth in the St. James’s Palace Stakes (1594m).
Kings Shield is one of five entrants for Lor at the midweek card looking to enhance the handler’s strong record on the dirt this season.
“He looks like a different horse on the turf,” Lor said. “Only this distance and on the dirt track is good for him.”
Currently striking at 20% on the surface, Lor leads the dirt standings with four wins from 20 runners in total; he also boasts five runner-up efforts.
“Kings Shield trialled last week, he jumped and sat behind them – I was happy with that effort,” Lor said.
In the past, Lor has toyed with the idea of taking Kings Shield to Dubai for the G2 Godolphin Mile (1600m, dirt) on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan Racecourse.
“We don’t know with Dubai, we don’t know if we can go, even to get back it’s not easy,” Lor said regarding next year’s showcase event on Saturday, 26 March.
Later on the card, Lor saddles the ever-improving Infinite Power (120lb) for the Class 3 Sha Tin Hoi Handicap (1650m, dirt) in a bid for back-to-back wins over the course and distance.
“Infinite Power is really consistent, however unfortunately he has an outside draw (barrier 12), so it’s a bit hard but I think he can also go forward and be close to the leaders,” Lor said.
The Australian-bred six-year-old is a four-time winner in Hong Kong, each time from a forward position under jockey Matthew Poon, who retains the ride.
“He has a big stride and he’s able to keep rolling,” Lor said of the 68-rater.
Infinite Power faces a field of 11 others, including Chancheng Prince (133lb), Ultra Express (131lb) and Turin Redstar (121lb).
The 55-year-old Lor also saddles The Elites and Everyone’s Victory – both one-time dirt course winners – as well as When You Believe tomorrow night.
Wednesday’s (29 December) eight-race all-dirt fixture at Sha Tin kicks off at 7.15pm with the Class 5 Tai Wai Handicap (1200m, dirt).