The faultless debut of Dancing Flames kicked off a double for Danny Shum Chap-shing at Sha Tin yesterday and the trainer said he never had any doubt the forward-looking youngster could overcome a tricky gate on the straight course.
Barrier one presented Dancing Flames with an extra degree of difficulty, but the mature youngster stepped well, showed nice speed and dominated the season's first race restricted to three-year-olds.
"He is a star," Shum said after his exciting prospect held off the race-fit Diego Kosta, with a big break back to the rest.
"He is a very professional horse. He was already strong when he got to the stable from Australia, but after the first trial, he improved, and he got better again after the second trial. We will go to 1,200m next time and later in the year look at 1,400m and the Griffin Trophy."
Winning jockey Chad Schofield has his father, former Hong Kong-based rider Glyn, to thank for gaining the ride on Dancing Flames.
"Glyn advised us to buy the horse out of a trial in Victoria," Shum said. "So we wanted Chad on him from the start and he has ridden the horse in a lot of trackwork."
Schofield, who now has six wins for the season, had known Dancing Flames had ability from that Cranbourne trial win with the form out of it stacking up strongly.
"In that trial he beat a horse called Kinglike, and he has turned out to be one of the better three-year-old sprinters in Australia," Schofield said, adding that Dancing Flames would come on for the comfortable three-quarter length victory.
"He was still pretty big today, he will be better for the run today, so that is exciting. He is very quick and he can quicken again off a good speed - only pretty good horses can do that."
Dancing Flames was well backed to start 3.0 favourite and Shum's second winner, Triumphant Jewel, was similarly swamped with support, the sprinter's odds squashed from as much as 25-1 to jump 10-1.
Shum put Triumphant Jewel's win down to a better draw on the straight course after the five-year-old had been burdened with inside gates at his last two starts over the trip.
"He has been stuck out running against the bias, so I was confident he would race a lot better with a nice run from gate 12," he said.
Triumphant Jewel gave apprentice Kei Chiong Ka-kei a second career winner one week after her first, and the 10-pound claimer had to avoid colliding with riderless first-starter Red Marvel, who had dislodged Joao Moreira at the start.
Shum said he would endeavour to use Chiong more now they had gained a breakthrough win together.
"I've already seen that she can ride, plus the 10-pound allowance makes a big difference," he said.