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Danny Shum’s Perfect Match chases a change of luck at Sha Tin

Any questions about Perfect Match being able to hack it in Class Two company were answered with a huge first-up effort, and he should enjoy a little more luck in Sunday’s Lukfook Jewellery Cup (1,400m) after drawing well in barrier two.

Danny Shum Chap-shing’s gelding enjoyed a sensation debut season, rocketing through the grades with four wins – including the Griffin Trophy – before finding things tough once he graduated to Class Two.

Given Perfect Match had won four and placed twice in the first six runs of his career, he could be forgiven two flat runs at the end of a long campaign and he certainly looks up to the task this season.

The four-year-old went enormous in the Penfold Park Handicap (1,200m) on November 17, travelling four-wide without cover virtually throughout after jumping from barrier 13, but he kept finding in the straight to eventually finish third, a length behind the winner Mr Croissant. With even luck he probably wins.

That run suggests Perfect Match has improved from his first campaign, still has some upside and can be winning races in this grade.

“He can handle Class Two no problem,” Shum said. “You could see his first run this season, he ran third and he didn’t have much luck.

“We just needed a good draw and we got it.”

Alexis Badel replaces the suspended Grant van Niekerk in the saddle and is likely to settle just behind the leaders from his inside draw.

The other help should be a step up to 1,400m – Perfect Match has had four starts at the course and distance for three wins and a narrow second.

Taking all that into account, he should get all the favours in running and prove very hard to beat.

There are not a lot of in-form horses taking part in the contest, with John Size’s Beauty Rush (Joao Moreira) looking the biggest danger.

After performing well in Australia and winning at Group Three level when known as Tin Hat, the four-year-old kicked off his Hong Kong career with two pretty plain runs over 1,200m.

He showed some more improvement last start at 1,400m, running an honest third behind leading Classic Mile contender Golden Sixty.

That augurs well for this event and after landing barrier one, Beauty Rush should also enjoy a nice run in transit.

The unknown comes in the form of Decrypt, another four-year-old series contender who makes his Hong Kong debut for Frankie Lor Fu-chuen with Zac Purton jumping aboard.

Decrypt is the highest-rated horse in the race at 93, which comes courtesy of his short but stellar career in Ireland.

When trained by Paddy Twomey, the colt won two of his first three starts (he finished second on debut) before running third to Phoenix Of Spain in the Group One Irish 2,000 Guineas at The Curragh. The horse who finished second? John Gosden’s star youngster Too Darn Hot, who has three Group One victories to his credit.

Decrypt has looked solid in two trials and while he clearly has ability, it is always tough for any private purchase to win their Hong Kong debut, particularly while carrying top weight as a three-year-old when taking on the older horses in Class Two.

So while he faces a tough task on Sunday, he is definitely a horse to watch going forward.

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