Seasons Bloom for Danny Shum
HK trainer's first four-timer culminates with the Group 1 Stewards' Cup victory
Seasons Bloom completed his Group 1 germination in the HK$10 million (S$1.7 million) Stewards' Cup over 1,600m at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday.
The victory was jockey Joao Moreira's first in the top grade since last April's Audemars Piguet QEII Cup.
For trainer Danny Shum, the wait stretched back to Little Bridge's triumph in the 2012 King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
"It's a relief," said Shum, after the maturing talent had sprinted clear of the best milers in town.
Seasons Bloom's turn of pace carried him to a half-length verdict over rising star Fifty Fifty, with Werther a head away in third. The winning time was 1min 34.74sec.
Freshness was the vital factor. Seasons Bloom had not raced since finishing fourth in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile seven weeks ago.
"He loves to race fresh, this horse," said Shum.
"He was a little bit disappointing on International Day, even though he ran a good race.
"Joao had to use him a lot that day and it made it hard for the horse. He came back with blood in his throat, so we gave him some time off and freshened him up.
"We trialled him and there was no problem. He won first-up this season over 1,200m, so all of that gave us confidence he could win today."
That confidence was manifest in the five-year-old returning the 4.1 second pick.
And the Australian import's supporters had few concerns as Moreira settled his mount midfield on the rail and angled out into clear ground turning for home. The winner whistled past the post, clocking 23.08sec for his final 400m.
"He jumped very well today, better than before, and that allowed him to race closer than he has been in the past," said Moreira, whose only previous Group race win this season was achieved on the same horse in November's Group 2 Jockey Club Mile.
"When I obtained a clear run in the straight, I was full of confidence that he was going to go past those horses in front of him.
"With 200m to go, I was already in front, maybe a little bit too early. But he's proven that he's one of the best horses - even though he was in front a bit early, he was strong enough to win.
As for future plans, Shum is considering multiple options, including a step-up to 2,000m, a distance the son of Captain Sonador attempted last term when fourth in the BMW Hong Kong Derby.
"We'll talk to the owner and Joao about whether we go to the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup (1,400m) or just go to the Hong Kong Gold Cup (2,000m). I'll see in a few days how the horse has pulled up. We'll see - we could try the 2,000m," said Shum.
Shum, who suffered broken ribs when a horse trampled him in a stable accident a week-and-a-half ago, enjoyed a red-letter day all round as he saddled a career-first four-timer.
Good Days, Everest and Baltic Whisper preceded Seasons Bloom's standout effort.
"First time," said Shum.
"In Chinese, they say 'If you don't die this time, luck follows you."
Trainer John Size once again showed the depth of the top-line sprinters in his stable as he prepared the first three horses home in the HK$10 million Group 1 Centenary Sprint Cup over 1,200m.
This time, however, it was emerging star D B Pin in the spotlight, with the five-year-old claiming his maiden Group 1 win under Olivier Doleuze.
D B Pin had finished a neck second to fellow Size trainee Mr Stunning at his first attempt at the big time in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint over 1,200m last month.
On this occasion, though, D B Pin had a neck to spare at the line over Mr Stunning and another stablemate Beat The Clock, who dead-heated for second. - HKJC