Danny Shum Chap-shing has debuted a host of promising young types this season but the veteran trainer has shown he is not afraid to be patient at the same time, with Romantic Chef returning to the races on Sunday after nearly two months off.
The four-year-old took a little while to find his way after his first start in October, finishing fifth, 12th and fifth in his first three outings before winning impressively in November and then adding a second placing in December.
It was after that runner-up effort that Shum decided to give the gelding a break and Zac Purton will ride him on his return to the track in the Class Four Lily Handicap (1,600m).
“He’s going fairly well, he’s a horse that improved quite quickly to be able to get the win on the board and then he plateaued a little bit so Danny decided to give him a little bit of time,” said Purton, who has ridden Romantic Chef in four of his five starts. “Now we’re bringing him back and he’s in pretty good shape.”
Purton trialled Romantic Chef over 1,200m on January 24, where he travelled nicely for third, and he was pleased with the feel the horse gave him.
“He trialled well enough, obviously he’s a miler or may even get a little bit further but I thought he travelled quite nicely in that trial,” Purton said.
“It’s always nice when you see them improve in the barrier trials to their earlier runs as they go along and he did that so we were happy.”
Purton has an unusually small book of rides on Sunday with only five but among them is Derby hopeful Tigre Du Terre in the Class Two Daffodil Handicap (2,000m), while he also partners first starter Prince Of Gems in the Class Four Cineraria Handicap (1,200m).
The Dennis Yip Chor-hong-trained four-year-old is a Private Purchase Griffin by I Am Invincible out of Rivers Secret and Purton believes the horse can show something in his first outing.
“He’s not a bad little horse, he was a bit slow out of the gates early on but he seems to have switched on a little bit more now, he’s getting out a bit better,” Purton said.
“In his last trial at the Valley he showed good speed, which was nice, and I’m sure that he can run a nice race. I’m hopeful that he can run a nice race.”
Purton also rides Bombay Blitz in the Class Three Rose Handicap (1,400m) and the five-year-old will come up against Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s smart type Right Choice, who has won two from three in his debut season and looks every chance to add to his record.
“Last time he was quite strong and he has kept his form so I think he should be a good chance,” said Lor.
Lor put blinkers on Right Choice for his last-start win and they remain in place for Sunday’s race.
“He’s more comfortable and concentrates better so I think it should help him,” he said. “At this moment, I can say later on he can go a little bit further, 1,600m or 1,800m, but for now 1,400m is a good distance for him.”