Perfect Match is destined to go far
But trainer Danny Shum is quick to downplay his five-time winner's prospects in the Hong Kong Classic Mile
Perfect Match showed he is a four-year-old going places with a smart victory in the Class 2 Lukfook Jewellery Cup Handicap over 1,400m at Sha Tin on Sunday.
The Not A Single Doubt gelding bagged a fifth win from 10 starts to push his rating (83 for this test) into Four-Year-Old Classic Series territory.
But, with the first of three legs - the Hong Kong Classic Mile - just six weeks away, trainer Danny Shum was quick to play down those prospects.
"The mile could be a problem," he said of the 2.2 favourite. "If you look at him, he's a 1,400-metre horse. The pedigree says the mile even might be an issue and, if we push him to the 1,600m and he runs no good, it wouldn't be ideal.
"But I'll talk to the jockeys and the owner, and then we'll make a plan what to do.
"His last run was good. He'd been off for a few months and had no cover in the run but he still finished third, so it was an amazing effort actually, and he's shown that today.
"There's no talk of the Derby for this horse."
There was plenty of BMW Hong Kong Derby ( 2,000m) talk about third-placed Decrypt leading into the race, though.
His classic prospects were not diminished by defeat.
The Hong Kong debutant emerged as a threat to Perfect Match with 300m to race but faded on his run, as Joyful Trinity swept by to press the winner and take second spot.
"It was encouraging," said champion jockey Zac Purton of Decrypt, this year's Group 1 Irish 2,000 Guineas third who is now in the care of Frankie Lor.
"I thought he did a good job. He travelled a bit keenly through the early-mid stages but he came out to win and he just ran out of gas at the end."
Lor intends to race the grey again on Jan 5, before stepping into the Hong Kong Classic Mile on Jan 27.
Perfect Match scored by 3/4 lengths. He stopped the clock at 1min 20.79sec to give jockey Alexis Badel some silverware.
"It's very good to win a trophy race," said the Frenchman. "I like Danny, he's been great with me so far and he always gives me good opportunities, so it's good to win for him.
"This was my best ride today and he gave me a good feeling.
" He's obviously a good horse, he's very smart and he listened to what I was communicating to him.
"He's happy whatever you want him to do and he responds well."
Badel was of a similar mind to Shum regarding the Australian-bred's ability to stretch out over a mile and beyond.
"I suppose the pace was fast enough and he might stay a mile but he's shown me good speed at seven furlongs (1,400m) today."
Caspar Fownes was delighted with the effort of the once top-class veteran Joyful Trinity in pressing the winner with a trademark deep-closing charge.
The seven-year-old was talented enough in his pomp to make the frame in Group 1 company and bagged a Group 3 win too, but has not tasted victory since October 2016.
"It's wonderful to see him do that," Fownes said.
"It's a challenge to bring these horses back. In the past, he's had a suspensory problem, a heart irregularity, and then he's gone and put in a massive run like that at his age.
"Hopefully, he can snag one after that run but we'll see how he is race by race. If everything's smooth, he's going to be competitive at 1,400 to a mile." - HKJC