Horses that arrive in Hong Kong carrying high expectations often take time to reach their best, however Ricky Yiu Poon-fai believes Shining Gem may be able to buck that trend at Sha Tin on Saturday.
The smart three-year-old, who has won at Group level in Australia, runs in the Class Three Sha Tin Racecourse 40th Anniversary Handicap (1,000m) this weekend and Yiu is looking forward to seeing what his gelding can produce.
“He’s a nice horse. He’s had a few trials and had looked promising in each one of them. He’s a genuine type of horse. To start with I’ll run him over a 1,000m and he should run well,” Yiu said.
Formerly trained by Tony McEvoy when named Run Naan, the gelding took out the Group Three Maribyrnong Plate (1,000m) at Flemington in November last year before finishing well back in the field in this year’s Group One Blue Diamond (1,200m) at Caulfield.
Shining Gem has trialled twice since arriving in Hong Kong in August and Umberto Rispoli will ride the horse on Saturday after partnering him in both of those hit-outs, with Yiu confident his charge will hit the ground running.
“He won’t need a few starts [to reach his best] but he definitely needs a run, but in saying that he will run well,” Yiu said.
“He’s not far from winning. He’s so forward and he has acclimatised really well since coming to Hong Kong.”
Shining Gem jumps from barrier seven in a race that features two other first-starters, with Zac Purton riding Benno Yung Tin-pang’s Happy Victory and Danny Shum Chap-shing wheeling out two-year-old Reel Bizzy, who raced twice in France for a first and a second.
Happy Victory is a four-year-old who won twice from three starts in New Zealand but has proven tricky for Yung since arriving at his stable in October last year, with leg injuries delaying the colt’s Hong Kong debut.
Saturday’s meet has been scheduled as a replacement to the one lost because of Typhoon Mangkhut on September 16 and the final race on the card is poised to be a willing contest, with a host of Frankie Lor Fu-chuen-trained up and comers stepping out.
Lor is assembling a strong hand ahead of the four-year-old series, which kicks off with the Hong Kong Classic Mile on January 27 and culminates with the prestigious BMW Hong Kong Derby in March, and he has Superich, Kings Shield and Glorious Spectrum in Saturday’s Class Two Shek Mun Handicap (1,400m).
Glorious Spectrum and Kings Shield are having their second starts after finishing back in the field on debut, while the progressive Superich is looking to build on an impressive record that includes three wins and a further four placings from seven career starts.
Purton jumps aboard Superich on his return from a three-meeting suspension after partnering the four-year-old at his three other starts this season.
Purton has nine rides as he looks to build on his advantage at the top of the jockeys’ championship, which sits at nine.