Red-hot trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing brought up his 600th winner at Sha Tin on Saturday, but you would not have guessed it judging by his body language.
Racing is often a numbers game but Shum was not fussed by the achievement, saying he was more motivated by results for his owners and staff.
In fitting fashion, Shum brought up the milestone with first-starter Fantasy in the Class Four Chevalier Aluminium Engineering Handicap (1,200m) before moving on to 601 winners an hour later with second-starter Lucky More.
Shum has an arsenal of talented young horses, but hopes he has not seen the best of them too early in the season.
“I have had some nice young ones this season, but I hope this isn’t the end of them now. I have used the best of them, I’ll need some more nice young ones to come in,” he said.
Pressed on the gravity of 600 career winners, Shum said he was more excited by the future than the past.
“Actually, I feel nothing, I only want to work hard. I want my owners to have lots of winners, I want my staff to get good pay because they deserve that, they work so hard so that is always my first priority,” he said.
“So when it comes to winners, 600, 700, 500, it doesn’t matter, it is just a number for me. It is my 16th season, so it isn’t really hard to get to 600, but it is nice.”
Fantasy’s win marked Shum’s third winner with Australian jockey Blake Shinn on board.
After a slow start, Shinn has begun to warm-up and Shum said he deserved a long-term future in Hong Kong as a result.
Shum revealed the pair connected via former Hong Kong-based jockey Nash Rawiller before Shinn’s arrival.
“He deserves the support because he works so hard,” he said. “He talked to Nash before he came to Hong Kong and Nash said ‘find Danny Shum, he is a good man and he will support you’.
“Before he had even come here, he had texted me and was talking about plenty of horses and why he would work on them, he really has a passion.
“He wants to stay here so I really love to support jockeys like that, that is the main point.
“He is a gentlemen, he doesn’t talk much and he works so hard. He is always on time and doesn’t complain, so he deserves everything he can get.”
Fantasy’s debut win was no mean feat for Shum, who said his task was made harder by being the heaviest horse in the field.
After bolting clear at the top of the straight, Shinn was able to hold out a late charge from fellow debutant Power King.
“I think if there was one more step in that race, he would have got beat,” Shum laughed.
“He is a very big horse, huge even. Usually for 1,300-pound horses, it is so hard to get a first-up win with them.
“Luckily the jockey did everything right, the horse is very easy to train. In this game you need some luck like this.”
His win with Lucky More made amends for his first start earlier this month where he was defeated as a $1.5 favourite.
“Last time horses got really close to him, he didn’t like it, he didn’t know what was happening and he got a bit tired,” he said.