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  • Writer's pictureAlan Aitken

There's a new Lor in town - is the title out of reach of exciting new trainer?

Not since John Size came from last to win the the trainers' championship in 2001-02 has a new trainer caused the stir that Frankie Lor has this season in Hong Kong.

After 163 races - just over 20 per cent of the season - Lor has 18 wins and a lead of 6 over a group headed by Chris So with Me Tsui, Ricky Yiu and Dennis Yip close behind.

It's an unusual look for the championship, even at this early part of the season as we'll see.

Lor is a protege of Size (together left) after winding up 4 years as his assistant to take up his own licence this season and he was also assistant to John Moore for many years, so he has had a great grounding. Like all new trainers, Lor walked into a team of horses that would mostly be described as a 'renovator's dream' if they were houses but has been exceptional at rejuvenating or improving them, no matter which stable they came from.

In many ways, his job is just about done as anything north of 25 wins in a trainer's first season is a sound result and he looks home and hosed for that, but forget about that: many are looking at Lor and wondering if he can do what his old boss did and win the title.

Probably the first thing to consider is whether being a clear leader, at this early stage, leads to championship wins.

Size himself has been quoted as saying the trainers' title is a "leader-biased contest" but his own experience at this early point of the race is somewhat different. The point he is making is that the top trainers find it hard to keep producing wins from the same horses in the final months of the season and it is difficult to peg back the leader, so the winner is usually close to the top by March.

But being in front in October? Well that doesn't look quite as important. The accompanying table shows the top five trainers after 163 races in each season since the Jockey Club moved to 83 meetings in 2009-10 season and last year, when there were 88 meetings for the first time although a similar number of races to the previous year. The first thing you notice is that Size has come from outside the top five 3 times in 8 years to win but only he and Caspar Fownes - in the year when they dead-heated - have done that.

But Size is also the only trainer to lead after 163 races and win the title, twice if we include 2013-14, when Size and Fownes dead-heated for first, but Fownes was recognised as champion after the Jockey Club used the tie-breaker of second placings.

No other leader at this stage of the season has run in the first two and Fownes even missed the first 3 despite having an 8-win lead at this point in the season 7 years ago. In fact, he led by even more than that at one stage.

So Lor deserves all the kudos he is getting for a brilliant start but history suggests that he will not win the championship - unless he really is the new John Size.

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