Hard-working Shum tops trainers' table
Danny Shum Chap-shing's hard work in the mornings has paid off, with the horseman reclaiming top spot in the trainers' title with a treble - thanks in part to a couple of perfect rides by Zac Purton.
Wins to Fionn's Treasure, Lucky Follow Me and Scarlet Carmellia took Shum to 14 wins, equal with John Size, with his nine second-placings making him outright top.
Shum's comparative lack of numbers mean he isn't a contender for the title, but it is an impressive record two months into the season, especially given some of the extenuating circumstances. The trainer has lost two trackwork riders in recent weeks and the 51-year-old has taken to riding eight horses himself every morning. The results are certainly showing, not only did he grab a double but Shum's other two runners - Planet and Iron Hawk - were also placed.
'My stable team are working very hard and doing a great job,' he said. 'I have to ride a lot of horses in the morning and I am very tired. I'm riding from 4.40am to 8.30am, non-stop.'
Purton himself snared a treble- but it was the two rides for Shum that stood-out for the in-form jockey, who has won two of the last three Jockey Challenges.
First it was an aggressive but intelligent ride on Fionn's Treasure and then a difficult assignment on the widely-drawn favourite Scarlet Camellia in a Class Three Handicap (1,600m).
Shum will suggest a six-week break for the four-year-old, who extended his record to three wins from four starts with the narrow victory.
'He got used up a lot and I'm worried about him,' he said.
What made the grinding win so tough was barrier 12, which Purton managed to overcome with a briliant ride. The Australian had the horse one-off the rail, just worse than midfield, before the turn and then managed to save ground all the way when he was boxed in - which made a difference as he held on by a head to the fast-finishing Finezza.
Purton called Scarlet Camellia's performance 'a good, solid win'.
'At the 650m he got nabbed on his heels and it stopped his momentum and put him on the back foot,' Purton said.
'From there he had to work hard to pick himself up and chase the pack again, he really toughed it out.'
Earlier in the day, Purton put Fionn's Treasure right outside leader Glory Horsie in the Class Four (1,200m) and simply ground him into the turf.
He then clicked up a couple more gears in the straight and scored by a convincing 21/4-length margin.
'He was in the right spot, I was able to sit outside the lead in a soft run race,' Purton said.
'I pressed him to get outside Glory Horsie to intimidate him, him being a bit green and vulnerable, I thought I could put him off his game.'