Seasons Bloom completed his Group 1 germination in the HK$10 million Stewards’ Cup (1600m) at Sha Tin Racecourse this afternoon, Sunday, 28 January.
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!” Shum said 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 further head away in third. The winning time was 1m 34.74s.
Freshness was the vital factor: Seasons Bloom had not raced since finishing fourth in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile seven weeks ago.
“He loves to race fresh, this horse,” the handler said. “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 1200 metres, so all of that gave us confidence he could win today,” he said.
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, angled out into clear ground turning for home, and whistled past the post at the end of a final 400m clocked at 23.08s.