Danny Shum Chap-shing’s very decent Private Purchase Seasons Bloom took the spoils on Sunday at Sha Tin but don’t be surprised if the horse who chased him home turns out the better proposition.
Seasons Bloom was identified in this space – and plenty of others – as an obvious black booker after his debut eighth at Sha Tin when he had dreadful luck getting clear running in the straight behind Western Express.
He was fit and ready for his first appearance in Hong Kong but simply had nowhere to go and produced that potential energy on Sunday, suited by a very fast pace, and ran on to take the 1,400m Class Three in visually impressive style.
Still very lightly raced, Seasons Boom has good upside but the black booker from this race is California Whip, trained by Tony Cruz.
He won only one race in the United Kingdom under Richard Hannon but California Whip comes with a Britannia Stakes placing to his credit and that has proved to be golden form for Hong Kong in the past.
Beauty Flame, Hawkes Bay, Born In China, Harbour Master all arrived with performances of varying worth close up in the Britannia Stakes run at the Royal Ascot, to name but a few, and all have measured up as very worthwhile purchases, and up to Group level.
California Whip had been given a very thorough preparation by Cruz going into Sunday’s race, yet the view from the parade yard was that he did not yet look on song.
For all that, he was able to camp fairly handy on the back of a hurtling speed set by A Beautiful, then move into the race like the winner under 133 pounds halfway up the straight.
He conceded 13 pounds to the fitter Seasons Bloom, tried briefly to fend off his finish then succumbed but still clearly beat the remainder of the field.
A rising four-year-old, California Whip has surely been purchased with an eye to the Group One series for that age group and it won’t surprise if he quickly makes it clear that he is not going to be out of place among them.