Shum gets his reward for speedy trip to NZ
'I only got [Island Super] because I moved so fast'
Island Super's handsome triumph in the Kowloon Tong Challenge Cup may have been his first local victory, but trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing had to win a race in his own right to make that success possible.
After Island Super ($47.50) landed a solid betting move to win the trophy race at the fifth time of asking, completing a treble for the affable trainer, Shum spoke about the rushed trip he made earlier in the year to secure the promising galloper in New Zealand, beating a number of other top trainers in the process.
'Tommy Cheung [bloodstock agent] told me about the horse, and I straight away rang my travel agent to go to New Zealand to see him,' Shum said. 'I saw him win, and I bought him straight away.
'I only got the horse because I moved so fast and Tommy told me there were a number of other trainers here who were upset they didn't get him.'
This race, at least, did go to the swift.
Island Super formerly raced as Bono, and was trained at Cambridge by Richard Collett. He was beaten at his first start and then won his next two over 1,200 metres at Ellerslie - the first by 23/4 lengths and the second by 31/2 lengths.
Shum bought the gelding for Ng To, who has had a buoyant year with his 'Island' horses. Ng's Island Sunrise won a Class Five at Sha Tin on November 11 at his first start for the Tony Cruz stable, while Island Speed won four Happy Valley sprints between February and June.
Despite being an ideal Hong Kong horse, Island Super's outstanding New Zealand form didn't translate into a local victory immediately. But he never ran poorly. 'He ran fourth to Booming City first time out, and then was a bit unlucky not to finish closer when second to Warrior up the straight [1,000m] at his second start for me,' Shum said.
With Anthony Delpech, who rode Island Super initially, being sidelined by suspension, Shum called on Eric Saint-Martin to ride the Volksraad gelding last start.
'He had the big weight [131 pounds] again there, and I was thinking about putting blinkers on him,' the trainer recalled.
'But Eric advised me to leave the blinkers off and put him in something longer. Today was 1,400 metres, but Eric believes he'll get a mile no problem.'
Saint-Martin has enjoyed a fruitful association with the Shum yard, including the Group One Centenary Sprint Cup on Scintillation, and once again the Frenchman handled his assignment to perfection.
Rival jockeys, to a man, will tell you how tight Saint-Martin can play it when he makes his winning run and once again he kept the opposition compact as he whistled past on the Island Super, ultimately running out a three-quarters length winner from Douglas Whyte on the John Size-trained Congratulation.
'I think this is a nice horse, very genuine and with a nice turn of foot,' Saint-Martin said. 'In my opinion, the only reason he was getting beaten before is that he was finding these races a bit too short. Today, over 1,400 metres, you have seen he has too much finishing speed for them and that would be even more telling if we stretched him to 1,600 metres.'
The three-timer took Shum to 12 wins for the season, with the former assistant to champion Ivan Allan feeling both delight and relief.
'It's nice when the results fall like they did today, because it's not easy here,' Shum said. 'The competition is very tough and you have to earn every win that comes your way.'
On the rise
Danny Shum's three-timer takes him to 12 wins after this many starts this term: 127