Trainer Danny Shum Chap-shing is loathe to be throwing Happilababy (Mastercraftsman) in the deep end with a run in the Group Three Queen Mother Memorial Cup at his next start, but feels he has no choice after the emerging stayer’s impressive return to form at Sha Tin yesterday.
Happilababy’s two-length victory from last in a 2,000m Class Three puts Shum’s four-year-old in the 80-plus ratings band for Hong Kong’s only 2,400m handicap, but whether his horse will have the right lead-up preparation is another matter.
“I hate to put him straight in that race, but he has forced my hand,” said Shum, whose concern is not just the significant class rise for a still-developing four-year-old, but the lack of a suitable Class Two stepping stone to get there.
“There’s one 2,200m race on Sunday and that is too soon so we will have to go to the big race with one month between runs and without a proper test against those types of horses.
“It is not ideal, but he is obviously back in form, he will run the distance and he will have a light weight – so you never know. There are not many opportunities at that distance so we have to take it.”
“I think Zac might have the key to this horse,” Shum said. “He doesn’t push him early in races, I think that might be it.”
Purton said there was no secret to his affinity with the son of Mastercraftsman – just a case of right place, right time.
“When I’ve won on him, I have just sat quietly, but I don’t think there is any magical formula to it. It was good to see him come back and win like that because he had also won quite well on international day.”
The winner of two of his past four starts, Happilababy has now won in excess of $300,000 and is another successful graduate from the 2013 Windsor Park Stud Karaka Select Sales yearling draft where he was purchased by Phil Cataldo Bloodstock for $28,000.