Hong Kong Racing News: Danny Shum and Lucky Wan Feng
Trainer Danny Shum scored an eventful double at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (21 June), with the handler jokingly suggesting that his winners Sparkling Talent and Lucky Wan Feng should swap names to better describe the manner of their victories.
Shum won the opener with Sparkling Talent in the Class 5 Po Toi Handicap (1000m) before later adding the Class 3 Manawatu Racing Club Challenge Trophy Handicap (1200m) with Lucky Wan Feng – but the trainer was in a laughing mood after the latter’s victory.
“Lucky Wan Feng, he’s the talented one, while Sparkling Talent, he’s the lucky one tonight,” Shum said after Lucky Wan Feng scored a strong half-length victory as a 3.8 second favourite in the night’s feature event. “He’s got plenty of ability, Lucky Wan Feng. He’s a talent, that’s for sure. You only need to look at his second start when he won at Sha Tin, or his wins in New Zealand or even his trials. If the real horse turned up, he was going to be hard to beat, but there’s always a question with Happy Valley first time.”
Lucky Wan Feng won a Class 3 over 1200m at Sha Tin in late January, but injured himself in a trial soon after, as Shum recalls: “He hurt his right hind, it wasn’t anything major but it was two months before he was able to trial again.
“After his injury, he ran over the 1000m and lost but I didn’t mind, he was still progressing. The second start back, he got beaten, but I thought he was still a bit soft so I thought he’d just come on for it. Last start, though, he was very disappointing, so I thought I’d try Happy Valley and a fairly quick return to the races to see if it would sharpen him up.”
Shum said much of the credit belonged to Purton, the Australian jockey positioning Lucky Wan Feng on the heels of leader Thor The Greatest before presenting the Darci Brahma four-year-old at the top of the straight.
“Zac gave him a perfect ride for the horse’s first time here at Happy Valley,” the trainer said. “It was exactly what you’d want.”
As for Sparkling Talent, he was second past the post in his 1000m scamper, charging home to finish a short-head second to Gary Ng-trained Highland Dragon. However, Highland Dragon was relegated to third for interference caused to minor placegetter Rugby Diamond in the home straight, meaning that Sparkling Talent was promoted to first.
“As I said, he was lucky,” Shum said. “He won to start the season but he needs his races to be run just right. Hopefully he can win again next season.”
For Shum, it catapulted the handler into fifth in the trainers’ championship with 47 wins for the season as he leapfrogged Tony Cruz.
Sparkling Talent provided a timely third winner for South African rider Callan Murray, who had not tasted success since his shock G3 Sha Tin Vase Handicap (1200m) win on Lucky Year. The young ace, who only has five meetings left in his short-term stint, is hoping that he can end his contract with a bang.
“It was a bit of a surprise, especially because I wasn’t first across the line,” Murray said. “But it’s always a thrill to win a race here, no matter the circumstances.”
Murray was not the only South African Jockey Academy graduate to salute the judge, with Karis Teetan taking the Class 3 Cheung Chau Handicap (1650m) on David Ferraris-trained Kiram.
The expected story heading into the night was John Size’s chase of Cruz’s record for most winners in a season for a trainer.
Size equalled Cruz’s 2004/05 season of 91 wins after Nashashuk won the Class 3 Ninepin Group Handicap (1200m) under Joao Moreira, but the Australian handler will have to wait until Sunday’s (25 June) Sha Tin meeting to take the record for his own.
Moreira made it a double on Paul O’Sullivan-trained Imperial Gallantry in the Class 4 Crooked Island Handicap (1650m) to take his season’s haul to 162, six short of the 168 wins he accrued last year with six meetings left this time around.
It may have taken Po Ching Treasure 38 starts to break through, but the Caspar Fownes-trained six-year-old took his Hong Kong record to two-for-40 as he doubled up under Umberto Rispoli in the Class 4 Grass Island Handicap (1800m).
“It’s funny how racing works like that,” Fownes said after Po Ching Treasure produced a grinding victory in a four-way finish. “I said to the owner the other day, sometimes, all that is needed is to get a hint of victory and then they go on with it. He did make tough work of it, though, didn’t he? It’s never an easy watch.”
Racing returns to Sha Tin on Sunday, where the final two Group races of the season – the G3 Premier Cup (1400m) and G3 Premier Plate (1800m) – headline the card.
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