Seasons Bloom flourishes to win the BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Mile
Seasons Bloom gave the established order a shake with a signal triumph in the Group 2 BOCHK Wealth Management Jockey Club Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday afternoon.
Danny Shum’s charge was a leading player in last season’s Four-Year-Old Classic Series and took today’s step up to open company with aplomb under Joao Moreira. The Captain Sonador gelding steamed past the two-time G1 winner Helene Paragon for a half-length success and is now a leading candidate for the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) on 10 December.
“He’s a very nice horse and I really think he’s going to be right there with them on the big day,” said Moreira, whose previous win in the race came atop Able Friend in 2014.
Seasons Bloom sprinted through a closing 400m surge, timed at a race-fastest 22.55s. The result looked solid, with another protagonist from last season’s four-year-old crop, the in-form Beauty Generation, a length back in third of 12, and last year’s LONGINES Hong Kong Mile hero Beauty Only a further head away in fourth. Helene Paragon and Beauty Only shouldered 5lb G1 penalties; the winning time was 1m 34.13s.
Seasons Bloom and Joao Moreira (black and white) go away from the field racing in the middle of the track, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
“Based on what he’s done today, you would think he’d be able to run well in the Hong Kong Mile next time because he beat some of the best horses in Hong Kong today, and he had to make it tough, being exposed three wide,” Moreira said.
“Danny left the tactics in my hands; he didn't give me specific instruction, I was happy to help him to get going because he doesn't have much early speed. I was able to cross a few horses and get to a position three off the fence, obviously it wasn’t ideal but at least he had cover and I got him to relax in a position just better than midfield.
“Once we straightened up, I held my nerve a little bit and he used pretty much everything he had in the last furlong, and he gave me plenty. Danny gave him a break and that paid off today.”
Seasons Bloom, returned the 3.7 joint-favourite with Beauty Only, had not raced since a fine second to Beauty Generation in the G3 Celebration Cup Handicap (1400m) on 1 October. That followed a first-up win in a Class 1 handicap over 1200m on the season’s opening day.
“I did think a little break would help the horse be more successful into the big races, so I’m happy the owner supported my decision,” Shum said, after welcoming his first Jockey Club Mile victor.
“He’s not the biggest horse, so I’ll try to keep him fresh and happy now. He has a big heart and I think he’ll run a good race in December – we’ll try our best.”
Helene Paragon battled to a narrow lead over stablemate Beauty Generation with 100m to race but had no answer to Seasons Bloom’s late swoop.
“As I said to everyone before he ran, he was definitely going to need the run,” Helene Paragon’s jockey Tommy Berry said. “I think that showed today. He peaked at about the 100 (metres), he had a decent blow when he pulled up so I’m very excited for December now.”
Beauty Generation, third to Seasons Bloom’s second in last term’s Hong Kong Classic Mile, continued the fine form that had already snared G3 and G2 handicap wins this season.
“He was very honest, he ran well. He got bumped at the 600 metres but he still fought back. That was good,” rider Derek Leung said.
Seasons Bloom and Moreira win the Mile, picture Hong Kong Jockey Club
Selected runners for all four of the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races – the HK$25 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m), the HK$23 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m), the HK$18.5 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) and the HK$18 million G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) – will be announced on Wednesday, 22 November.
Hong Kong racing resumes at Happy Valley on Wednesday, 22 November.