Hong Kong Jockey Club
By Leo Schlink
Danny Shum celebrated his 700th Hong Kong winner in typically understated fashion when exciting talent Romantic Warrior won the second section of the Class 4 Murrayfield Handicap (1200m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (24 November).
A protÃ©gÃ© of Ivan Allan and famed by Little Bridge’s 2012 G1 King’s Stand Stakes victory at Royal Ascot, Shum is one of the most respected horsemen in the sport and the milestone victory leaves him in elite company in Hong Kong.
Of the current trainers in the jurisdiction, only Tony Cruz (1,361), John Size (1,341), Caspar Fownes (974), Ricky Yiu (851), Dennis Yip (782) and Francis Lui (760) have trained more winners than Shum, while John Moore holds the overall record of 1,735.
Shum, 61, was characteristically modest about personal achievement as he contemplated Romantic Warrior’s future.
“It means I have to work harder, it's not bad - but it's not great for 18 years. It's about 40 winners a season, I need to do better actually,” he said.
“He's (Romantic Warrior) got a good turn of foot, he's just very easy to control this horse - he's very good. I'll send him to Sha Tin now, I have to talk to Joao to see whether we got to 1200 (metres) or 1400.”
Joao Moreira, who notched a double on the programme but was eclipsed by Zac Purton’s treble, is bullish over Romantic Warrior’s prospects after producing a rail-hugging ride on the Hong Kong International Sale Graduate.
“It was very nice win. We expected him to be much closer, but he dashed home. He’s got a lot of ability. I think the handicapper will need some time to stop him winning races,” the Brazilian said.
Purton boosted his seasonal tally to 40 after John Size’s Scores Of Fun breezed to victory in the Class 2 Bruntsfield Handicap (1200m), adding to Purton’s earlier successes on Yee Cheong Warrior and Run The Table.
Alexis Badel guaranteed his place in the LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 8 December by driving Cheerful Days from last-to-first to snare the Class 3 Inverleith Park Handicap (1650m) for Francis Lui.
“That’s very cool, I knew I was in good form and I had the momentum, so it’s good to be ride in the competition (IJC) again and I am looking forward to it - it’s great,” the Frenchman said.
Badel, with 19 wins for the season, and Ho, the leading home-grown Hong Kong rider with 16 victories, join defending IJC champion Zac Purton, 2019/20 Hong Kong champion Joao Moreira, Britons Ryan Moore, Tom Marquand and Hollie Doyle, Frenchman Mickael Barzalona, Japan’s Yuga Kawada, New Zealand’s James McDonald and Australian Damian Lane in the HK$800,000 challenge.
Moreira and Frankie Lor combined with We The South, who again demonstrated a devastating affinity with the city circuit’s speed course with his sixth triumph over five furlongs — a two-length victory in the Class 3 Colinton Handicap (1000m).
“He likes it here over 1000 metres,” Lor said. “The track suits him and he seems to enjoy it.”
Lor celebrated a double — and his fifth winner from 11 starters — when Flaming Passion launched late to claim the first section of the Class 4 Murrayfield Handicap (1200m) for Matthew Chadwick.
The win left Lor with 23 victories for the campaign.
David Hall and Purton continued a productive liaison when the pair combined for a third win in two meetings when Yee Cheong Warrior snared the first section of the Class 4 Stockbridge Handicap (1650m).
“He ticked a lot of boxes tonight — the jockey and the barrier (gate one) - he had everything going for him tonight and he got the job done,” Hall said. “He’s rated well enough (45) that he can do it again.”
Riding in supreme form, Purton quickly notched a double when he piloted Francis Lui’s Run The Table from barrier 12 to one off the fence in fourth place before claiming the Class 5 Myreside Handicap (1650m).
Luke Ferraris credited his father David for Charizard’s slender victory in the Class 4 St Andrew’s Challenge Quaich Handicap (1650m) after the seven-year-old defied race-favourite Loyal Baby under Joao Moreira by a short head.
“All credit to Dad, he’s freshened him up really well. The horse is difficult to train. You’ve got to keep him fresh while keeping him fit without making him too flat — so, it’s a real balancing act,” Luke Ferraris said, noting the unique challenge of Hong Kong racing.
“Winning makes it all the more enjoyable, but it is one of the toughest jurisdictions to do well in. I’m pretty pleased at the way things are going. You always hope things could be better, but it’s nice to get a win.”
Hong Kong racing continues at Sha Tin on Sunday (November 28).