He is only two starts into a promising career but trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing believes his sprinter Regency Legend could compete with Hong Kong’s best in a year’s time.
The three-year-old backed up his phenomenal debut Hong Kong performance last month with another eye-catching win at Sha Tin on Tuesday, putting in one of the wins of the day in the Class Two Tai Mo Shan Handicap (1,200m).
While many are cautious about over-racing three-year-olds in Hong Kong, Shum said he was happy to push on with his New Zealand import as he continues to turn in strong performances.
“It’s OK, just keep going with him is the plan at the moment,” he said following the win. “I think he can get bigger, he is about 90 per cent fit at this stage.
“I won’t rush him or push him, it comes naturally to him, he is four next year so he should get better.
“On January 27, there is a Class Two over 1,200m, he will carry some extra weight there but I don’t have any other option really, if he goes well there we put him in Class One then we can go to the four-year-old series where he will be stronger no doubt and hopefully go to the international races.”
After copping a 12-point handicap rise following his first-up win, Regency Legend is all but certain to be on the receiving end of another solid penalty from the handicapper, which will see him forced to prove himself while carrying weight against seasoned horses.
Shum, who was not impressed with the 12-point handicap jump after the horse’s debut, said his options would become limited the further he goes through his preparation.
“I thought 12 points was a bit much for a three-year-old having their first race in Hong Kong, but it turns out he is good enough,” he said.
Jockey Zac Purton, who rode the horse for the first time, said he was impressed with how the gelding was able to switch on for race day.
“He’s only small, there’s not much of him and he’s not impressive in the mornings at all, he’s an ordinary worker on the dirt, you wouldn’t think he can step onto the grass and do what he does,” he said.
“He fell into a nice spot today, the speed was on, he had a bit of a lightweight, so he had a lot of things go his way but he’s a young horse who I think will continue to develop and he looks like he’s got a bright future.”
Purton has sat on some of the best young horses in Hong Kong recently and he believes that Regency Legend has not yet given him the feel of some of those, but time will tell as he is only in the infancy of his racing career.
“Not yet he doesn’t, because he’s small and he hasn’t fully developed he doesn’t give me that feel at the moment but it’s only his second start in Hong Kong and he is extremely unexposed. I will let him show us if he’s going to keep taking the necessary steps,” he said.
While running a 1,200m time comparable to Mr Stunning’s recent Group One Longines Hong Kong Sprint performance on debut, Regency Legend managed to run quicker again on Tuesday, storming home to run the last 400m in 21.82 seconds – the fastest of any horse on the day.