“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 21.52s for a complete winning time of 1m 08.32s. 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,” Moreira added. “He’s proven there that he’s a talented horse still rising up.”
Trainer Danny Shum will now point his exciting ward at the G3 Celebration Cup Handicap (1400m) on 1 October, as he plots a course towards the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.
“He’s a miler and that’s where we’re aiming, the international Mile in December,” Shum confirmed. “He’ll run next on 1 October, in the race over 1400 (metres).”
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 1800m 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 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.” Shum said. “The pace was fine for him, even at the 1200 metres today: those sprinters have speed but he showed that he’s the better horse.”
Blizzard, Japan-bound for next month’s G1 Sprinters Stakes, ran a fine second under top-weight of 133lb, 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 explodes from the blocks
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: he drew 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 five brought the turn of the 32-race maiden Yourthewonforme, a first runner and first winner for new trainer Frankie Lor, John Size’s former assistant. Moreira switched out from a midfield rail berth in the Class 5 Tim Mei Handicap (1200m), and conjured a grinding, momentum-building stretch run to victory.
“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.
“I saw last season that this horse ran second a few times at 1400 (metres) so this time I put him at 1200 (metres) to see if he could handle it, being a little bit fresh. Half-way down the straight, I still wasn’t sure, but Joao got the momentum going. I think he will be better back at 1400.”
So, meanwhile, was delighted with Top Beautiful’s four-length triumph in the season’s first race, the straight-track Class 4 Harcourt Handicap (1000m).
“He’s got a lot of potential,” the trainer said of the Nicconi four-year-old. “He showed us that last year when he arrived and we’ve done a lot of work with him since then. He still had his fitness from that work last season so we haven’t had to do too much with him; we didn’t have to push him to get him fit enough for today.
“He has a good character, his trial at the pre-season Owners’ Carnival was good and I like the way that when he’s asked to give, he gives. I think he’s a good horse and maybe he can progress further, we’ll see.
“Everybody wants to be the one to get that first win of the season but you need some luck for it to happen – I had the luck and the horse,” So added.
Tommy Berry clicked a win to kick off his new role as retained rider to the John Moore stable. The Australian hoop delivered Moore’s Hair Trigger late in the run to claim race seven, the Class 3 Cotton Tree Handicap (1000m).
Trainer Me Tsui and jockey Umberto Rispoli landed the eighth, the Class 2 Albert Handicap (1400m), with Mongolian King. The Peter Ho-trained Fifty Fifty took the penultimate prize, the Class 3 Drake Handicap (1200m), under Karis Teetan, and the finale, the Class 3 Garden Road Handicap (1400m), went to the Richard Gibson-trained Rattan under Chad Schofield.