Shum's favourite faces his biggest Sprint Trophy test

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 January, 2008, 12:00am

Even Scintillation's greatest fan, trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing, admits the old warhorse faces an uphill battle in his third tilt at the Group Three Bauhinia Sprint Trophy (1,000m) on Sunday.

Since the race reverted from a Group One terms race to a Group Three handicap three seasons ago, Scintillation has lined up under top weight and performed brilliantly.

He was just touched off by Billet Express in 2006, giving the winner 26 pounds in weight, and giving almost as much to Absolute Champion in third place, before winning his first Centenary Sprint Cup.

As a six-year-old last year, Scintillation was an impressive winner of the Bauhinia under 133 pounds before taking another Centenary Sprint Cup at his next run.

That he is lining up again for the race once more is a great credit to the International Sale graduate's talent and courage.

But it's also a tribute to Shum's fine handling of the horse handed down to him as a budding star by Ivan Allan when his former boss retired in June 2004.

'I hope I have done a good job for Scintillation, but I know Scintillation has done a fantastic job for me,' Shum said yesterday.

'He still keeps racing so well, he is an amazing horse. He is very tough and having a lot of ability helps him to keep running as well as he is, but it isn't becoming any easier for him.

'Again he has 133 pounds and has to give nine pounds to a good young sprinter like Friendly Gains - actually, I will be quite happy if he runs in the first three.'

Despite leg problems and a bleeding attack, Scintillation has won six races under Shum's care from 1,000m to 1,600m - three of them Group Ones - and has continued to race well in the very best of company even this term.

Most recently, Scintillation was fourth to Sacred Kingdom in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint, running on well at the finish after getting shuffled back towards the rear early.

And, while he concedes the horse faces a tough job on Sunday, Shum's mind is still a long way from any thoughts that the gelding is nearing retirement.

'He is still doing well and has already won $1 million in stake money this season just from minor prize money,' Shum said of the HK$22.9 million career stakes earner. 'There's no reason why he shouldn't keep on racing as long as he is sound enough. And anyway, Scintillation is my favourite horse and I like to see him every day.'

The Caspar Fownes-trained Victory Treasure is an early scratching from the sixth event due to a fever.