TRAINER Danny Shum will have all his fingers crossed when his progressive galloper NORDIC DRAGON makes his seasonal reappearance in the HKU Foundation Handicap (10.45am) over six furlongs at Sha Tin in Hong Kong on Sunday.
Shum publicly stated that he believed he had a potential superstar on his hands after the four-year-old made a winning debut at the Valley last November and followed up with another resounding victory the next month.
Shum’s comments would have been music to the ears of his connections, who had to pay a whopping £720,000 for the son of Starspangledbanner at the 2022 HK International Sales and would be hoping for further glory in the months to come.
Unfortunately, the wheels came off at the beginning of this year, when the Dragon tasted three consecutive defeats and, with nothing unusual coming to light, he was rested for nearly a month before resuming activities.
Since then, he has never looked back. A hat-trick of emphatic and impressive victories, all at the Valley, has seen his official rating rise 22 pounds, and must have his connections dreaming of making it to the HK International Races in December.
Sunday’s race is a good starting point, with plenty of battle-hardened handicappers and one or two former Group class gallopers in opposition, plus the fast-improving light-weight Bundle Of Charm in opposition.
Nordic Dragon is going to have to win, or at least go close, for all these lofty aspirations to come to fruition, but he does have plenty going for him.
Shum’s stable has already struck gold four times since the season started, while jockey Hugh Bowman is riding at the top of his game, and leading the jockeys’ title race.
Adding the fact that Nordic Dragon has had a couple of encouraging trials as preparation for this contest, it will be disappointing if he doesn’t go close.
Nordic Dragon 10.45am Sha Tin