Fresh from celebrating Romantic Warrior’s fabulous first-up Group Two victory at Sha Tin on Sunday, Danny Shum Chap-shing is preparing to introduce another high-priced Hong Kong International Sale (HKIS) graduate at Happy Valley on Wednesday.
Nordic Dragon, for whom Edmond Yue Kwok-yin paid HK$7 million in July, is set to make his debut in the Class Four Ngau Chi Wan Handicap (1,200m), lining up against a full field of rivals, which includes last-start winner Melbourne Hall and five gallopers who placed on their most recent outings.
A three-year-old son of Starspangledbanner and two-time victor Rely On Me, Nordic Dragon’s only loss in his three trials occurred when he crossed the Happy Valley finishing line half a length behind subsequent Sha Tin debut winner Big Me in September.
“He’s a good horse. He’s trialled well, but he’s only 80 per cent fit – I didn’t push him too hard,” said Shum, who also opined Romantic Warrior was only 80 per cent fit after his class record-breaking run in dominating the Jockey Club Cup (2,000m).
How good could he still be!? 💫— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) November 21, 2022
Romantic Warrior was all class at Sha Tin yesterday leading home a one-two finish for Danny Shum in the G2 BOCHK Jockey Club Cup. @mcacajamez | #HKIR | #HKracing pic.twitter.com/XnrFeW2ztw
Shum was an active participant in Yue’s acquisition of Nordic Dragon, but he did not think the gelding would realise HK$7 million in the sales ring.
“He’s quiet, he has good manners and he won his breeze-up on the grass quite nicely,” Shum said.
“I talked to Mr Yue. I said, ‘for the sales, he’s one of the best, but he isn’t worth a lot of money. HK$4.5 million is OK’. He went for HK$7 million.”
Just Nordic Dragon’s fellow unraced stablemate, Denfield, attracted a higher bid at this year’s HKIS, auctioneer Clint Donovan knocking down the attractive son of Deep Field and Bousquet to Yue Yun-hing for HK$7.8 million.
While Romantic Warrior has repaid his HK$4.8 million purchase price nine times over and the HKIS Hall of Fame also houses the likes of Billion Win (HK$1.1 million), Good Ba Ba (HK$1.7 million) and Pakistan Star (HK$6 million), the record of gallopers sold for at least HK$7 million is mixed, and that is being kind.
Of the 19 HKIS graduates sold for at least HK$7 million, the 16 raced horses have won 34 races between them, with Jing Jing Win attaining the highest rating of 84.
Jing Jing Win won three of his 21 starts, including each of his first two and three of his opening five, before finishing no higher than third in Class Three grade prior to his 2019 retirement.
The most expensive HKIS buy, HK$11 million acquisition Circuit Number One, retired as a 25-start maiden, banking HK$944,845 in prize money and never getting closer to winning than his half-length second in a 2020 Class Four contest.
There are eight races on Wednesday’s Happy Valley card, with the highlights being three Class Three events – two over 1,200m and one over 1,650m.
Jumbo Legend is set to race in Class Three for the first time as the Caspar Fownes-trained sprinter seeks to complete his course-and-distance hat-trick after posting Happy Valley 1,200m Class Four victories on October 12 and October 30.