Trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing was keen to downplay the debut win of Lightning Storm on Sunday, but the four-year-old entered an exclusive club with his performance at Happy Valley – and it bodes very well for the future.
Very few horses can win over 1,000m at the iconic city track in their first trip to the races but history says there is a lot of upside for those who are able to handle the intense pressure and successfully negotiate the tight-turning circuit without the benefit of experience.
Prior to Sunday, just three horses had achieved the feat since the start of the 2012-13 season – Mr Stunning, Moment Of Power (both 2015-16) and Snap Fit (2018-19) – and all three made it to Class Two.
Mr Stunning went on to become one of Hong Kong’s best sprinters – a three-time Group One winner – but the other two also enjoyed plenty of success.
Moment Of Power won eight of his 46 starts, reaching a peak rating of 94, while Snap Fit was able to salute in four of his 10 starts (also placing four times and hitting a mark of 82) despite being dogged by injuries.
Of course it is hard to predict the future, but the early signs suggest Lightning Storm should progress through the grades.
It’s the second Happy Valley meeting in a row that Shum has enjoyed a debut winner after Romantic Warrior was super impressive when saluting over 1,200m on October 20.
Despite what the records books say about debutants winning over 1,000m, Shum revealed he is keen to target the Class Fours at the Valley with his new horses.
“If they’re not as good as Nervous Witness I can bring them to Happy Valley. If they’re not big enough or I think they need a little bit more time I bring them here because the fields are a bit weaker,” he said.
“Then it all depends on luck – if you’ve got a good draw you’ve got a chance.”
Lightning Storm had the good draw for the Dongguan Handicap – he jumped from the inside alley – but his effort was even more impressive given he was slow out of the gates.
Jockey Zac Purton didn’t waste any time to address that little inconvenience, hustling him up to take the lead and hold out Super Commander and Dragon Kingdom.
Danny Shum and Zac Purton.
But while those two horses dropped out to finish second-last and last respectively, Lightning Storm kept fighting under pressure, holding off Fabulous Eight and Turbo Power in the run to the line.
“He missed the start a little bit, but he’s a trier this horse – as you can see,” said Shum, while confirming he will give the son of Per Incanto a break before finding his next assignment.
“He’s not a big horse, only 1,054 pounds, so I’ll give him a little bit of time off, freshen him up a bit and see how he goes.”
While pleased to get the result with Lightning Storm, Purton knows a few things had to go right for it to come to fruition.
“He’s a bit inexperienced – a bit light and immature. If I didn’t have barrier one it would’ve been a different story today,” the Australian said.
“He was a bit slow to step and it took him a bit of time to get into his rhythm but having his first start at Happy Valley, I think he did a good job. He was out on his feet late but he did enough.”
It was the first of a double for the Australian, he also tasted success aboard Francis Lui Kin-wai’s Keep You Warm, moving him to 28 winners for the campaign, 11 in front of rival Joao Moreira, who returns from a two-meeting suspension on Wednesday night.