Moreira kicks off with a big bang
Three-time champion jockey takes half the card on opening day of new Hong Kong racing season
SEASONS BLOOM's impressive victory in the Class 1 HKSAR Chief Executive's Cup Handicap over 1,200m at Sha Tin's season-opener on Sunday reinforced jockey Joao Moreira's belief that the talented gelding can make a splash in the top grade.
"That tells you why I've been thinking about him for the internationals," the three-time Hong Kong champion beamed as he walked back to scale.
Moreira enjoyed another red-letter day, winning the afternoon's first five races. Seasons Bloom's display came in the third.
The 3.9 second-favourite blitzed the home stretch, quickening from the tail through a swift closing 400m split of 21.52sec for a complete winning time of 1min 08.32sec.
Such was the power of the five-year-old's charge that Moreira was able to relax through the final 50 metres.
"He's a lovely horse and he's done that in a very good way," said Moreira.
"He's proven there that he's a talented horse still rising up."
Trainer Danny Shum will now point his exciting ward at the Group 3 Celebration Cup Handicap over 1,400m on Oct 1, as he plots a course towards the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.
Seasons Bloom was one of Hong Kong's star four-year-olds last term, thanks to placed efforts behind Rapper Dragon in the Hong Kong Classic Mile (second) and the 1,800m Hong Kong Classic Cup (third).
The Australian import rounded out his first campaign here with an impressive two-length win at a mile in Class 2. That was in June.
“He’s a lovely horse and he’s done that in a very good way. He’s proven there that he’s a talented horse still rising up.”Jockey Joao Moreira, on Seasons Bloom
"He's a really nice horse. He showed his quality when he won at the end of last season, and, coming here from that win, he's kept his good form." said Shum.
Blizzard, Japan-bound for next month's Group 1 Sprinters Stakes, ran a fine second under top weight of 133lb (60.45kg), a concession of 16lb to the winner.
Fabulous One (110lb), the seven-runner contest's hare, faded late to an admirable third, just a neck behind the runner-up.
Moreira's domination of the first half of this afternoon's card was reminiscent of the day, last March, when the "Magic Man" set a Hong Kong record of eight wins in a day.
That benchmark was not threatened, as it transpired. Moreira's streak ended at the mid-point, drawing five blanks in the back half.
The Chris So-trained debutant TOP BEAUTIFUL gave the Brazilian an easy win in the opener and the Michael Chang-trained JE PENSE closed from deep to claim the second.
After Seasons Bloom's performance, Moreira steered another first starter to a cosy success in the fourth - the Shum-trained HOUSEHOLD KING, top lot at the March 2017 Hong Kong International Sale.
Race 5 brought the turn of the 32-race maiden YOURTHEWONFORME, a first runner and first winner for new trainer Frankie Lor, champion trainer John Size's former assistant.
"I'm very pleased with this start but I'm still looking for more winners," said Lor, for whom Yourthewonforme was a sole runner on the day.
"I have 55 horses in the stable now, so I have a lot of thanks for the owners for giving me such good support. That has given me some confidence, but also I have confidence in my team - they have worked very hard in the off-season." - HKJC