In-form Shum on a revenge mission
Young guns Caspar Fownes and Danny Shum Chap-shing were the stars of opening day last weekend and the trainers may well quinella the feature race again at Happy Valley tonight in the Hong Kong Country Club Challenge Cup, 1,200m.
The pair of rising star trainers dominated on the weekend, with Shum's treble bettering Fownes' double, but he lost out in the key event when The Duke downed Town Of Fionn in the first feature of the season.
In an open sprint Cup tonight, Shum can gain his revenge with Kalimantan to down Fownes' Fifty Fifty, with their vital inside draws giving them an edge over some of their rivals.
Formerly with Shum's long-time boss, Ivan Allan, Kalimantan had a patchy season in 2003-04 when clearly not 100 per cent in condition much of the time but did bob up on occasions including a strong-finishing second to Songs Of The Sun over this course and distance.
Although his last run last season was in May, he continued in work with Allan right until the final part of the season and so has not had as long a break as some of his rivals including the topweight, who did little after his last win until returning for the new term.
Shum's treble on Sunday showed just well his horses are firing in the early part of the season and although Kalimantan has not trialled, the trainer has probably given punters a lead to his readiness in the gear changes.
Kalimantan will wear blinkers for the first time tonight at the Valley - a change most good trainers are loathe to make with a horse which is unready for a serious race. Shum has also called on Shane Dye to ride Kalimantan in tonight's event as he did with Sunday's winner, Jolly Good Fortune.
Fifty Fifty looked a horse of some promise as a three-year-old last term and while his wins have all been at Sha Tin, he ran boldly on debut at Happy Valley for third in his only appearance at the track.
Also resuming for a new trainer is Progressing Times, which moved from Allan to John Size and is a query runner especially with Douglas Whyte booked for the ride. Three minor placings from 12 starts may not be over impressive but Progressing Times has shown excellent speed on occasions and with Size's magic wand he might turn it all around this season.
Similarly worthy of respect in a wide open race are omen tip Athletic Gold on the night when the Chinese Olympians will be at Happy Valley - his only run at the course was a second - and the Prince Of The Valley, Dennis Yip Chor-hong sends out 19 start-maiden Healthy Fruits, who has run his best races at Happy Valley and will also be tried in blinkers for the first time, but his wide draw presents a few headaches for Olivier Doleuze.